Help – my child can’t have dairy!

 


So I thought after all my blogs on research it was time to get back to food again.

I frequently get people tested for food intolerances and whilst its good to know what the child is reacting to its not always easy to change the diet.

The most common issues I am seeing in clinic at the moment are wheat, dairy and surprisingly egg. So what do you do when you need to cut these foods out and how do you find easy replacements?

In this blog I want to look at dairy. The first thing people freak out about is that cutting out dairy means that the child won’t get enough calcium. Actually they haven’t been getting enough calcium because they couldn’t digest the milk so it probably is better that they remove a food which was affecting them and start having foods then can actually digest.

old wooden typesetter box with 16 samples of assorted legumes: gThere are lots of food sources of calcium – nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils – you know all those things that kids really love to eat (ok well they might when you cut out the stuff that’s been making them feel average).

Many processed foods use milk or dairy as cheap fill and flavouring , often when you don’t expect it. My children both went down an entire aisle of biscuits trying to find one they could have.  They found just one brand – this was a few years ago and now there are a few more options . Often food that is vegan is quite dairy free friendly since they don’t include anything from animals. Just watch out for words in processed foods like casein, whey and rennet – these are all dairy based.

Usually when I see someone who has to cut our dairy I spend a bit of time focussing on alternatives.  Easily available are soy, almond, coconut and rice milk. Each of these has particular uses and almond and rice milk can also contribute to calcium intake (rice milk 110mg of calcium per glass).  I am not keen to replace a significant intake of dairy a day with a direct substitute as variety in food is really important. However I do find it handy in cooking to always have the substitutes easily available.

Soy milk works better in savoury dishes – so if you need a little milk for scrambled eggs or a quiche. Rice milk is sweeter and I find substitutes easily into baking muffins or cakes.  Either works well as a substitute for milk on the morning cereal as well.

Coconut milk is a great way to add a creamy flavour to a curry or stew. One of my favourite breakfast dishes is easy chia pudding – which basically is 1 cup of coconut milk to 1/3 cup of chia seeds and half a cup of frozen berries. Stir and leave overnight and top with flaked almonds to serve. Filling and delicious. The chia absorb most of the liquid but still have a nice little crunch to them as well.

Coconut oil and fresh coconutDepending on how intolerant your child is you may need to stop using butter as well – again use some good oils in its place. Olive oil is great to dip bread in or drizzle over vegies and coconut oil has a higher melting point and is good for longer slower cooking. With coconut oil just make sure you use the extra virgin one or it can have quite a strong odour.  Remember fats are important as they help us take up minerals such as calcium so adding a little fat to your steamed vegetables will help with absorbing as many nutrients as possible (and make it taste a lot better).

 

Christine Pope is a practising homeopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives, Sydney. She is also the Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College where she lectures in Homeopathy and supervises Nutrition clinic.

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