For anyone who’s chosen to eat a dairy-free (DF) diet, whether by choice or by necessity, the first reaction is often a negative one; we start focusing on the foods we CAN’T eat and start making a long list of items we can no longer enjoy. Honestly, how depressing is that list?
Focus on the foods and recipes you currently enjoy that are naturally DF or can be made that way with a few minor adjustments. You’d be surprised just how many of your favorite recipes are already DF or could be made that way.
When you’re flipping through food magazines, blogs or websites start marking recipes that are DF and sound good. It may seem like all the food magazines out there have tons of butter, cream and milk in their recipes, but in reality they do have a number of recipes we can prepare.
More than likely, your physician has given you a list of foods you shouldn’t eat; it’s now time to create a list of foods you CAN eat. Organize it in the order your grocery store is laid out so it’s easy to follow along when you’re shopping.
When you’re shopping, be sure to check the ingredient list of ALL items you pick up, even if you’ve previously purchased them. Sometimes manufacturers adjust their formulas/recipes but don’t say anything on the packaging. So what used to be DF may not be anymore. For example, Cool-Whip used to be dairy-free but they recently changed their formula and started adding small amounts of cream. So it’s always good to double check labels no matter how many times you’ve bought them before. (BTW, if you're looking for a dairy-free version of Cool-Whip, try Truwhip. If your store doesn't carry it, print out this flyer and bring it to the store manager.
When going to a restaurant, especially with a group of people, for many of us the last thing we want to do is call attention to ourselves and make a fuss about finding things on the menu we can eat. If you know where you’re going ahead of time, something I will occasionally do is call the restaurant and find out which dishes are DF or can be made that way.
If you’re at a restaurant, take a look at the menu and identify dishes you think you could eat. Then talk to the server and tell them you have an allergy. Being lactose-intolerant isn’t an allergy but most restaurant staff understand the importance of food allergies. Something as simple as "I'm extremely allergic to dairy and can't eat anything made with milk, butter or cheese. Could you please tell me or ask the chef if this dish would be safe for me to eat?"
The age-old adage of catching more flies with honey is very true in this situation. If you’re extremely friendly and respectful, you’ll find most restaurants will bend over backwards to accommodate you.
You’re Not Alone
Lactose intolerance is on the rise and DF websites, blogs and organizations are popping up all the time. Find people to share stories, successes and recipe failures with. You’ll pick up some great tips and recipes if you can expand your circle of DF friends.
T-Shirt pictured above can be found at zazzle.com.