Diary-free eating is more simple to do than gluten elimination diets. This is an integral part of nutritional orthomolecular therapy for mental health. There is a huge misconception that by lowering dairy we severely risk lowering much needed calcium. Most all Naturopaths will agree that calcium is found in great supply in non-dairy foods as well and the risk for lowering calcium is insignificant. That being said, there are conditions and life stages that put greater calcium demands on the body but this occurs from our findings in 20% or less of the population. In such cases dairy can be helpful but it can do more harm if you are intolerant and eat it daily. Popular dairy manufacturer advertizing has great monetary incentive to promote this misconception.  

Regarding bone strength/density/porosity:  by increasing calcium in the 80% of the population that is not calcium deficient you run the risk of adding calcium to the bone exterior (cortex) and creating an outer core that is much denser than the inner core (matrix).  This can provide the optimal conditions for brittle bones and greater fracture potential. We should remember that the inner core (matrix) is not calcium dependant but rather relies on magnesium and protein.  If you are taking supplements that are higher in calcium than magnesium you may be increasing fracture potential which is a serious concern in osteoporosis or osteopenia.  High quality protein diets are therefore very important for the maintenance of bone structure throughout life.  Women can not make new bone after age 35 but require maintenance of bone structure, the demands of which can be met again by eating a full food variety with or without dairy.  Lactating or pregnant moms, and growing children have greater calcium demand and again, these demands need not be met by including dairy as the main calcium source.

Dairy is cow milk products but similar proteins exist in other milk providing species so intolerance to cow milk products can in some cross over to include goat or sheep milk intolerances but this is not always the case. Dairy by-products in yoghurt are also sometimes tolerated to some degree in people with mild dairy intolerances; these people are usually those that can rotate dairy products by including them every 3-4 days. 

Food intolerances are associated with all sorts of reactions including fatigue, digestive conditions, mental imbalance, brain fog, depression, anxiety, ADD, OCD, and schizophrenia. the affinity for dairy allergies is often seen in digestive complaints of all kinds and sinusitis or allergic rhinitis with head congestion, facial head pain, and congestive headaches.


Here is a simple dairy-free diet approach:


Milk substitutes (coconut milk/rice/almond/soy milk); Margarine; Non-dairy chocolate, yoghurt, cheese, and frozen desserts.


Whey and Casein

These big proteins found in dairy products elicit immune responses with toxic by-products. Read all food labels. Note that some dairy-intolerant people tolerate whey isolate proteins. Avoid calcium or sodium caseinate. 


Includes: evaporated, condensed, or sweetened condensed milk; raw, fortified, homogenized, lactose-reduced, pasteurized, ultrapasteurized, organic, guernsey, or jersey milk; buttermilk; chocolate milk/drinks; goat milk; shelf-stable, or dry milk powder/solids; CoffeeMate; and acidophilus milk.


Used in sautes, flavoring cooked vegetables, and in many sauces/toppings. It is found in cookies, pastry dough, pie crust, icing, and some candy (cream/chocolate). It is used in dishes that are poached, grilled, or broiled (fish, meat).

Cream Cheese

 Used in dips, spreads, baking, cheesecakes, and fruit tart filling.

Cottage Cheese

Sour Cream

Used in spreads (dill, cucumber), dips, toppings, sauces, pie (pumpkin), cakes (cheesecake), soufflés, and beef stroganoff.

Dairy By-Products

Found in yoghurt, etc. Note that some dairy-intolerant people tolerate dairy by-products.


Includes fondues, grated cheese, cheese sauces, curds, etc.

Ice Cream

Especially the non-yoghurt based ice creams. Again, some people with mild dairy intolerance tolerate yoghurt every 3-4 days.

Miscellaneous to Avoid: Cold cuts or luncheon meats such as bologna; creamed/scalloped foods, baked goods (pancakes, muffins, biscuits, crackers, cakes, and some baking mixes); curds; dry cereals with milk powder (some granolas); malted milk; some patties and meat loaf; milk sherbets; some gravies; ovaltine; some puddings; some sausage and wieners; and some white sauces. Be sure to read all food labels. At Restaurants, if you’re not sure about a menu item, ask! Avoid au gratin foods – i.e. foods topped with cheese or bread crumbs and butter, then broiled until crispy.

For more information, recipes, and eat-out ideas, try the “Go Dairy Free” website.