Dairy Free Food Guide for PCOS

How to Know if a Food Contains Dairy

Dairy Free Food Guide for PCOS
by Tallene Posted February 2, 2022

“Tallene, I’m trying to eat dairy free… but what can I eat?!”

We get this question a lot. Especially with processed or pre-prepared foods, dairy can be hiding under multiple disguises. But don’t lose hope! Once you get familiar with the different names for dairy derivatives and relatives, you’ll easily be able to spot them immediately!

The difference between dairy-free & lactose-free

Whilst lactose is one of the proteins that women with PCOS may want to avoid, it’s not the only culprit of inflammation.

The difference between lactose-free products and dairy-free products is that lactose-free foods are still made from dairy, just the lactose enzyme has been removed.

Dairy-free foods, meanwhile, contain no dairy at all. They’re usually made from plants, like almond or coconut milks.

If it’s not clear if something contains dairy, check the label:

There are a few ingredients to scan the label for, if you’re trying to eat dairy-free for PCOS. 

Here are a few that pop up most often:

  • Casein and caseinates – (ammonium caseinate, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed casein, iron caseinate, magnesium caseinate, potassium caseinate, sodium caseinate, zinc caseinate). Casein is what makes milk white! And there are high levels of it in cow’s milk.
  • Ingredients that start with “lac” – Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactate solids, lactitol monohydrate, lactoglobulin, lactulose. These are all forms of lactose, the dairy protein.
  • Rennet – Often found in cheese, but used in other food products too, rennet is an animal product that’s found in a cow’s stomach.

What’s the difference between a dairy allergy, dairy sensitivity and lactose intolerance?

If you’ve ever asked for your food to be dairy-free in a restaurant, you may have been asked if it’s because you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.

People who are lactose intolerant simply can’t digest dairy and it gives them unpleasant side effects, a bit like some people with PCOS. A dairy allergy, however, is much more dangerous. Contact with dairy can cause a severe allergic reaction and even anaphylaxis!

As for dairy sensitivity, that’s the category where I and many Cysters fall under. That’s when our body see dairy as an invader and has an inflammatory response, resulting in cystic acne, bloating, moodiness, and the list goes on. Not to mention, dairy spikes insulin levels because it contains a hormone called insulin-like growth factor and us women with PCOS are already doing the best we can to keep our insulin hormone stable so it’s not very helpful! 

Are Eggs Dairy-Free

Eggs are completely dairy-free and a great source of protein! You’ll often find eggs as the binding ingredient in gluten and dairy-free foods, but don’t worry, they’re not symptom inducing in people with PCOS.

There are some surprising foods that actually contain dairy!

A while back, I discovered that Pamela’s gluten-free flour contains dairy! I forgot to read the label when I saw “gluten free flour”…woops! 

But that’s not all, folks! Dairy traces and ingredients can also be found in chewing gum, deli meats, breads, canned fish, chips and even alcohol

What can we do? Always read labels and look for the part that says “Contains: Milk”

But don’t get overwhelmed, Cyster. We can help!

If going dairy-free is something you’re planning on doing for your PCOS… then you can find support from The Cysterhood!

Not only will you learn about the impact of dairy on PCOS in our 5 Stage Success Path, but you’ll also get access to some delicious dairy-free recipes like our dairy free chicken Alfredo recipe, and 14 Products to Help Heal PCOS.

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