Grocery Store Surprises: Dairy-free Shopping

I recently worked on an article for The Huffington Post about the Top 10 Surprising Foods That Contain Dairy. To prepare for this article I took a special trip to the grocery store to do some research on packaged goods and their ingredients.

The trip to the grocery store left me feeling exhausted and brought back some strong emotions and difficult memories. I remembered the days and weeks after being newly diagnosed. I spent hours at the grocery store, slowly walking through the grocery aisles looking and hoping to find something … anything … that could be easily prepared and safely consumed by my son. I remember how painful it was to realize that he would never be able to eat a lot of the things that I ate regularly because they contained dairy in the form of cheese, milk ingredients or modified milk ingredients.

Many people who mean well can be easily tricked by labels that can imply that foods are dairy-free. Just this week, a family member prepared a dish that they thought was completely dairy-free, because it did not contain butter or cream, and the tomato sauce used was the “Original” flavor and easy to assume that it only contained tomatoes with spices. Luckily she still had the labels, and when we checked the ingredients, the tomato sauce contained Romano cheese. This happens more often than people realize!

The biggest takeaway is that you must read all ingredient lists carefully. Don’t make assumptions about items being dairy-free, because dairy hides in many places.

Top 10 Surprising Foods that Contain Dairy

1. Baby Cereals – I listed this one first, as my son had an anaphylactic reaction to the skim milk powder contained in Rice Cereal when he was 5 months old.

2. Potato Chips – I was shocked that Dill Pickle chips, which happens to be my favorite flavor (don’t judge me!) contains milk ingredients! Luckily, I had friends that used to cross the border to the US and buy me some dairy-free Dill Pickle chips from the US.

3. Tomato Sauce

4. Fish Sticks and Chicken Nuggets – and most things that are breaded or battered

5. Nutella

6. Granola and breakfast bars – even the ones that don’t contain chocolate chips or that are dipped in yogurt likely have dairy in it

7. All Beef Hot dogs – It’s easy to assume that these would be made with only beef, but many brands use modified milk ingredients in their “all-beef” hotdogs

8. Vinaigrettes – just because it’s not creamy doesn’t mean that there is no dairy

9. Canned pasta in tomato sauce

10. Crackers

Read the Top 10 Surprising Foods that Contain Dairy on The Huffington Post.