Showing posts with label dairy-free. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dairy-free. Show all posts

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance seems to be a buzzword in today’s world. Most of us know the term means some type of issue with milk, but what is it exactly? Does it vary in intensity? And how do you know if you have lactose intolerance?

Lactose is the sugar found in milk and dairy products and can cause problems when the body does not produce enough lactase to digest it. When you are unable to properly process lactose in your body, you can experience a host of symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Discomfort and/or gurgling in your belly

The best way to be diagnosed is by a doctor – not self-diagnoses! But if you notice that you have digestive issues when you consume dairy, it’s worth monitoring your symptoms until you are able to see a doctor.

If you discover that you are intolerant of lactose, it can feel like the world – at least, your eating world – is coming to an end. And truthfully, those with severe lactose intolerance may have to limit their menu. But food intolerances often span a spectrum. So if you discover that you are lactose intolerant, don’t count all as lost just yet.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to allow some time for your digestive system to heal after exposure to lactose. But once you are feeling well, you can start to experiment with your tolerance to lactose. For some people, you can have a small amount per day. Other people can have a serving or two per week without symptoms. Lactase supplements may help with your tolerance.

Foods like hard cheeses and Greek yogurt often digest a bit easier, compared to milk and ice cream. Be patient, and try a few foods at a time. If you have a severe reaction to a trial food, give your system time to heal before trying another food. You might also consider diary products from animals other than cows. Goat yogurt, milk, and cheese is often tolerated by those with lactose intolerance. 

If you discover that your reaction to dairy is severe – or you simply want to avoid it – there are plenty of alternatives! From coconut milk yogurt, to rice-based cheeses, you do not need to feel deprived. Insider tip: eat soy and rice-based cheeses as part of recipes, rather than alone. Remember that they are made of different ingredients, so there will be some taste/texture differences. But with some trial and error, you’ll find the ones that work best for your tastes and recipes. (For example, check out this dairy free macaroni and cheese recipe!)

If you are game to try to heal your intolerance, some medical professionals believe you may be able to cure it. With time and persistence, you may find relief, or perhaps, just higher tolerance.

So, if you find yourself facing a dairy intolerance, take one step at a time. It’s an opportunity to find new toppings for your burger, play with new pizza recipes, and explore flavor combinations you’ve never experienced. And as you explore, keep us posted on your progress!

What dairy-free recipes have you tried that you’ve loved?

Contributing Writer

Friday, November 1, 2013

Preparing Dinner for Those with Food Allergies

Ah, the joys of entertaining: theme selections, menu decisions, decorating elements…with it comes the pleasure in creating an ambiance for your guests that will not only compliment the menu and occasion, but also show your care and consideration for their tastes. I've yet to host a get together, even the most casual, that didn't take at least a few hours of preparation.

Dinner party preparation

It can get even more complicated when one of your guests has a food allergy or limitation. How on earth do you prepare food for someone who can’t have soy, corn, dairy, and/or gluten? And if they have an allergy that could lead to a severe anaphylactic response, it is of utmost importance that special care be taken. If you are or will be faced with the task, here are some basic steps to take to make the event your hosting a success for everyone.

Ask questions. People with food allergies are used to the way they must eat and are often experts on the topic. Not to mention, they usually enjoy instructing others in the finer elements of making a gluten free meal, for example. So if it is someone you are close with – such as a family member or friend – don’t hesitate to ask how you might best prepare food to ensure his or her health. They may ask you not to bother, that they will bring their own dinner. If so, trust that they have their reasons. Some people are extremely sensitive, and they recognize that no one can be as careful or as knowledgeable about their condition as they are.

Keep it simple. While you may wish to make a special dish that involves a complex recipe, say, dairy-free macaroni and cheese or gluten-free bread, when cooking for a specific allergy for the first time, stick with the basics that don’t need to be altered, like basic meat or fish dishes with a side of vegetables. If serving appetizers that require bread for dipping and you are having a gluten free guest, gluten-free crackers or corn chips are easily purchased at almost any grocery store.

Separate everything. For those who are sensitive, it’s imperative that foods be kept separate. For example, if someone has a corn allergy, make sure any corn products are kept in a separate bowl, away from the vegetable tray. I once attended a function where the hostess had gone out of her way to purchase a fruit tray so I could partake in the refreshments, only to unload a container of cookies into the middle of the fruit, getting crumbs all over the fruit. For someone who has celiac disease and cannot eat even a crumb of gluten without an immediate reaction, this made it impossible for me to eat the fruit. When in doubt, put things is separate containers, and keep the offending items off to the side, so guests have easy access, but cannot drag crumbs over other foods. Also, use serving spoons in dips and spreads, so your guests will not use a crust of bread or the edge of a corn chip to dig out their serving, thus contaminating the dish for the allergic.

Be detailed. Keep the labels from ingredients and make sure you check each and every label for the offending food issue. Allow your guest with the allergy to review the labels to be sure the foods are safe. Few people guess that soy sauce has wheat in it, or that chocolate bars can contain soy. Some folks with food allergies are hyper sensitive, and cannot eat foods made on the same grill or pan as the offending food.
Dinner prepared for friends

Don’t get offended. Despite your best efforts, the allergenic may fear eating your creations. Whether they worry you weren't careful enough, or are simply in the habit of avoidance, try not to take offense. For some of us, we've gotten ill despite the best intentions of our loved ones, and we are a bit shy to try anything. Because food allergies often affect digestion directly, your guest may be currently battling a digestive ailment, and simply not be up to risking any further illness.

Be honest. If you aren't up to preparing foods for a food allergy, or quite honestly, don’t have the time – they can be a bit complicated – don’t hesitate to tell your guest before the event. While I appreciate the effort friends make to ensure a gluten free option for me, I also know it may be more than they can offer. In the event that you can’t provide a specially made meal, but still want to offer something, check with local restaurants or caterers if they can provide a meal for your guests. Often, that is the easiest way to be sensitive, while still allowing for the other preparations you need to complete.

Preparing for a get together can be fun – and at times, stressful. When a guest joining you has a food allergy, it can complicate the situation. But using the above suggestions should help get you started down the right path to having a successful event. If you need some additional thoughts, here’s a great article by the Gluten-Free Girl about cooking for a gluten free guest, and this could be applied to almost any food allergy issue.

What tips do you have to share that have worked for your get-togethers?

Contributing Writer