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If you read my article yesterday, I wrote about the sources of calcium. So, we have established that there are fabulous alternatives to traditional dairy for our calcium sources. But if you’re trying to remove dairy completely from your diet, you might need to consider looking beyond the dairy case.

The three big “hidden” names for dairy are lactose, casein, and whey. Most of us are probably familiar with lactose or whey, but what is casein? Casein is the protein found in milk, and I never in a million years would have guessed all the places that it hides.

From the day we learned that my son needed to be dairy-free, we began immediately removing the obvious things like milk, yogurt, and cheeses. It has taken me nearly a full year to understand the complexities of where dairy hides. Surprisingly, dairy can hide in canned foods, bread, crackers, and baking mixes. Here are the top 12 places I have found hidden dairy:

  1. Lactose-free milk — still contains dairy in the form of milk proteins
  2. Vegetarian cheese — even the nut-based ones have hidden milk proteins
  3. Salad dressings — watch out for those creamy ones
  4. Deli meats — various forms of casein are used as a bonding agent
  5. Frozen yogurt and sorbet — ice cream isn’t the only dairy dessert
  6. Soups and chowders — watch out for milk proteins
  7. Canned tuna — many brands include hydrolyzed caseinate
  8. Instant potatoes — often include butter and/or milk before dehydrating
  9. Medications and vitamins — watch out for whey
  10. Granola mixes — may include butter
  11. Store bought crackers — may include butter and even milk
  12. Flavored potato chips — flavorings often contain milk

In addition to this list of 12 places dairy hides, here is a a great source for a dairy avoidance list. This might be of help in your journey toward better health.

Even if you wouldn’t say that you need to live a dairy-free life, you can benefit from learning this information. Most of us are actually healthier with a little less dairy in our diet. Even my 5 year-old, who is NOT dairy intolerant, is sick less often when he doesn’t drink milk and eat soft cheeses on a regular basis.

If you haven’t noticed, in America we have an obsession with dairy, and learning to live without it is definitely not fun. It means we have to give up pizza (thankfully we moved from Chicago 4 years ago, otherwise this would be more difficult for me…I love Giordanos!). I do miss my pizza with cheese, but maybe someday I can have a slice again. This time just one, and maybe once every 2 years.