Healthy Living on March 3, 2011 by

My Story: Food Allergies

Matt, Cassidy and Dennis pose with our lucky toucans at the 2010 World Porridge Championships.

Yes, this is a Bob’s Red Mill blog, but I wanted to share something about myself with you because part of being Bob’s Red Mill is helping people deal with food allergies, celiac disease and other diet-related health conditions and providing delicious foods to make eating fun again.

Something that I’ve only mildly hinted at on this blog and covered up well in my daily life is that I am allergic to dairy products. Yes, I said it. Gasp! I know I’m not alone and many of you are thinking “me too!” No, I am not lactose intolerant, but thanks for asking. I have an allergy. My body reacts the same way to cow’s milk as many other food allergies. My reactions are fairly mild compared to those with severe food allergies. I don’t go into anaphylactic shock, in fact I can pretty much move on with a good dose of Benadryl. Fortunately, my reactions are pretty much limited to any direct ingestion of dairy products like milk, ice cream, white sauces, etc. My body doesn’t really notice on the surface when I eat baked goods with milk products and hard cheeses. That doesn’t mean I’m not reacting, it just means that I cannot detect the reaction.

My resolution this year was to stay clear of all dairy, which has been very difficult, let me tell you! Not only is it hard to avoid dairy when eating out and about, but it’s hard to remember to check the ingredients in things I normally buy- like cold cereal or bread. I resolved to just do my best a few weeks ago. Sometimes, a little bit gets in and goes unregistered in my system. This is what works for me and a few people I know with allergies similar to mine. I absolutely do not recommend it for anyone with severe food allergies or celiac disease.

Fortunately, over the years there have been better and better products made to help those of us with food allergies eat well. There are endless options for dairy-free ice cream and milk made from everything from nuts and seeds to rice and oats! I’ve been lucky to have grown up learning how to eat well with my food allergies. Yes, I miss some things, but there are so many wonderful other things that I haven’t spent more than a fleeting moment thinking on what I miss.

When I received a copy of Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies, I dug right in. I was sure that it would help me navigate my world a little better and did it ever deliver! Sloane has inspired me to take my allergies more seriously and to be a better advocate for myself. She has helped me realize just who is an ally in my life and who just “doesn’t get it.” This book is full of great tips for dating and traveling, as well as, eating out with your boss and eating well at celebrations. It has sample letters for prospective students to share with colleges and tips for navigating a buffet line without a reaction. We’re giving away a copy of her book here. For anyone who has a food allergy or is dealing with celiac disease, this book is endlessly helpful and inspiring. I don’t say it often, but this book comes with my highest recommendation.


Thanks for the review of the book. Cassidy, I had no idea you had a milk allergy. I react to soy very similarly to what you described, but I can’t have it in things either. Oh the hives and anxiety it would give me…ugh. I will definitely check out Allergic Girl’s book! It sounds like a great reference!

I have the same dairy issue but never thought about Benadryl for anything except seasonal allergies. I plan meals and menus without dairy (and other food allergens), but, like you said, eating out and about can be challenging. I’m glad I read this! : )

Lisa Miller says:

I’m allergic to wheat, corn and milk and as you can imagine, life is a little worse and in many ways a whole lot better than many people may imagine. One of the things I find a little challenging is when someone says, “Oh, just have a little of this and take an antihistamine and you’ll be fine.” Well, no I won’t. One thing that makes figuring out food sensitivities is that your body can take 3 days to fully process food. Who knows what caused what symptom? And certainly the effects of the allergy will be felt for some time. Benadryl can be helpful to make you more comfortable, but won’t ‘fix you right up’.

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