CASEIN-FREE DIET

WHAT IS CASEIN?

Casein is a protein found in all milk products and milk derivatives.

Why Would Someone Eliminate Casein?

Casein is found in all all dairy products. Dairy products can cause adverse food reactions including intolerances, sensitivities and/or food allergies that can provoke unwanted symptoms such as bloating, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, mucous production, and/or abdominal cramping. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be worth investigating if casein/dairy foods are playing a role.

A casein-free diet is also used in combination with a gluten-free diet for children with autism. Research has shown evidence that a Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GFCF) diet improves symptoms of autism such as hyperactivity, temper tantrums, problems with eye contact and speech skills, and physical ailments such as skin rashes and seizures. Kids that had digestive issues before attempting the diet and those who followed the diet closely for longer periods of time found the GFCF diet to show the most improvement. The theory is that children with autism have trouble digesting these large proteins (casein and gluten) and they leak through the walls into the bloodstream and travel to the brain where they interfere with behavior, speech and social skill mechanisms. The diet doesn’t help every single child with autism and requires patience and diligence. Contact your physician and dietitian to provide much needed guidance with this difficult dietary modification. 

Do I Have a Dairy Allergy/Intolerance/Sensitivity?

Intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies are often used interchangeably, which is confusing and incorrect. Visit our Food Sensitivities page to determine the differences. If you believe you may be suffering from one of these ailments, be sure to contact your physician or a dietitian who can provide more information.

Diagnosis

As with any symptoms you are experiencing, you should relay these to your physician. Your physician will base the diagnosis on medical, family, and diet history, including medical tests if necessary. Your physician may likely tell you to eliminate all dairy foods from your diet for at least a couple of weeks and evaluate your symptoms. Your physician will also provide guidance and recommendations on the GFCF diet.

LABEL READING MADE SIMPLE

Federal law has made label reading a bit simpler for us shoppers with food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies. Milk is one of the top eight allergens required to be labeled either in the ingredient list OR in a separate contains statement.

RULES

1. Check the contains statement and look for the word “milk.” If it is there, the item should not be consumed. It will contain casein.

2. If you have checked the contains statement and did not find the word “milk,” move on to the ingredient listing and look for the word. If you did not find the word “milk” either in the statement or the list then it does not contain milk products.

3. Don’t be confused by the terms dairy-free, lactose-free, and non-dairy. These terms do not all carry regulatory definitions and can be very misleading. For example, non-dairy allows caseinates, which is a milk protein and needs to be avoided on a casein-free diet or dairy-free diet.

Exceptions to this labeling law:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs 
  • Food regulated by USDA, including meat, poultry, or certain egg products 
  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • Fast foods, street vendors, festival foods and local foods 
  • Kosher labeling 
  • Pet foods and personal care items such as cosmetics, mouthwash and toothpaste. 
You will need to call the manufacturer of these products to find out if they contain dairy in any form.

WHAT ABOUT CALCIUM?

When you are going dairy free, you do risk not getting enough calcium and vitamin D. It is important to replace what is lost with fortified milk substitutes such as almond milk or acceptable vitamin and mineral supplements. Ask your doctor or dietitian for advise on proper supplementation.

Be sure to check out Price Chopper's selection of dairy free milk alternatives!