Navigating a Food Allergy

With the New Year brought a suspected milk allergy to my family. The advice from our doctor is to avoid milk until we see the allergist. So of course when you think about avoiding milk you think of the usual suspects...milk, cheese and yogurt. But in actual fact it is so much more than that.
Milk is often used as an ingredient in many different types of food. In baked goods like bread, cookies, crackers and cereals. Hidden in foods like sausages and lunch meats or used as a flavouring think anything butter or caramel flavoured. And than don't forget chocolate!

What to know about allergies.
  1. Allergies can develop at any time in your life. People can develop allergies to foods, insect bites, medications, and other substances like latex. 
  2. Allergic reactions can cause a wide variety of symptoms like:
    • hives or swelling of the face, lips or tongue
    • wheezing or shortness of breath or trouble swallowing 
    • nausea, cramps, vomiting or diarrhea
    • dizziness or loss of consciousness.
  3. If you suspect an allergy see your doctor. 
What to do?
  1. Read food labels for everything. 
  2. Know other common ingredient names that also mean milk. Avoid foods with ingredients like:
    • Beta-lactoglobulin
    • Casein, rennet casein
    • Caseinate
    • Lactalbumin
    • Lactoferrin, lactoglobulin
    • Whey
What to know?
  1. If your food allergy requires you to avoid a whole food group like milk become familiar with the nutrients you are missing and what other foods provide them. 
    • Milk provides calcium, vitamin D and protein. A great alternative is a fortified soy beverage. 
      • Other milk alternatives like rice or almond beverages do not contain the level of protein found in milk or a fortified soy beverage. 
    • Sources of calcium are: kale, spinach, soybeans, white beans, and canned salmon (when you eat the bones)
    • Sources of vitamin D are: fatty fish like mackerel and salmon and egg yolks.

What can you eat?
Instead of focusing your energy on worrying what you can't eat. I find it helpful to look at all the things you can. Here is a list of our favourite recipes we have been enjoying that are milk free.  Also many recipes can be made with an alternative type of milk like a fortified soy beverage.


Coconut Farro with Mango

Baked Oatmeal - made with a fortified soy beverage

Buddha Bowls

Moroccan Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup


Tangy Thai Peanut Salad

Egg Roll Stir Fry

Chickpea Tikka Masala


Whole Wheat Gingerbread Raisin Muffins 

Hummus - with your favourite veggies

For more information check out Health Canada's information on milk and other common food allergies.

Shannon RD
Registered Dietitian