When Dairy isn’t an option

How do you get enough calcium when you don’t eat or drink dairy?

We just had this conversation at our pediatrician’s office at my Cecelia’s last physical.

 

Doctor: How many glass of milk does she drink?

Me: None

D: Does she eat yogurt?

M: No

D: Well she needs to get more calcium in her diet.

M: What other sources can I give her?

D: I’ll go find my handout.

 

Does this seem familiar to most with allergies or food restrictions? As soon as there is an allergy or an intolerance for dairy most doctors aren’t sure where else to get the daily recommended amount of calcium in your diet. We all strive for a well balanced diet but when you can’t have certain foods or avoid them, things can get a little skewed...

Yes calcium is found in many vegetables but can we really expect our children to eat one full cup of cooked spinach or turnips to get even close to the daily requirements? With food allergies certain vitamins and minerals can be lacking from their diets. They look like they are growing healthy and strong they can still be missing these key nutrients.

So what can we do to increase calcium in our diets when she is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, avoid soy and she isn’t a fan of dairy products? We find alternatives.

Fortified flax milk not only has calcium but a good amount protein. Good Karma brand is top eight allergen free and my daughter is now obsessed with drinking her “milk”. She says “it is super yummy” and asks “to drink it at every meal”. Hemp milk is another good option that has healthy fats and just as much calcium but not as much protein as flax milk. Tempt hemp milk is certified gluten free and top eight free and I use this in most of my baking. Both of these I feel are great options and taste really good!

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So where can you get the required calcium without the dairy? Here is a quick list of non-dairy foods:

Seeds- poppy, sesame, and chia, hemp hearts

Sardines and Salmon

Beans and Lentils

Dark, leafy greens- spinach and collard greens

Rhubarb

Fortified Cereals

Edamame

Tofu fortified with calcium

Fortified drinks- orange juice, soy milk, flax milk, hemp milk, and nut milks

Figs


Always remember though that in order for our bodies to absorb calcium easily vitamin D needs to be in your supplements regiment or if that’s not the case it’s a great excuse to go outside and enjoy the sunshine!

This is my own opinion and does not come from a health care professional. Please do your own research and talk to your primary care physician.