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Saturday 13 February 2021

CMPA | Milk Allergy | What Can I Eat?

My youngest child, Charlotte, was diagnosed with CMPA – cows milk protein allergy – at 4 months old. In hindsight, I believe that my eldest child also suffered with the same allergy but back then I had NO idea it even existed! Even after countless trips to the GP for severe colic and reflux, and numerous calls to the health visitor – it was never even mentioned as a possible allergy. Only after searching through facebook groups and reading advice online did I come to realise, and eventually diagnose, Charlotte with a milk and soya allergy.

CMPA Milk allergy how to test what can you eat

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I was breastfeeding at the time, so this meant I also had to cut out the allergens from my diet as they can be passed on through breastmilk. At first it was a very steep learning curve working out what I could and couldn’t eat! In this blog post I’m going to talk you through the process of testing for allergies, and how to adapt your diet to make sure you are eating safe foods which are allergen free.

If you’re short on time and you’d like a quick debrief of our favourite dairy free treats, then have a watch of this YouTube video I filmed a few months back – but don’t forget to come back and find a full list below: https://youtu.be/eLoCVNk586U


Testing for a milk allergy:

Confirming a cows milk protein allergy is the first step along your allergy journey. If you are an adult and you aren’t sure exactly what allergen you are reacting to, then it is a good idea to start keeping a food and drink diary to pinpoint your reactions. If you are over the age of 12 and testing alongside an adult you may wish to try an at home allergy kit to help with an IgE allergy (allergies which bring about more immediate symptoms such as swelling, or hives). Symptoms can also be non-IgE with delayed reactions such as an upset tummy.

If you are hoping to confirm a CMPA in a baby your first step is to remove all dairy from their diet. For a breastfed baby this means removing all dairy from the diet of the breastfeeding parent. It can take approximately 3 weeks for the dairy to leave the mother’s body and another three weeks after that for the baby to be completely clear of dairy – BUT – many people notice an improvement much sooner than this (us included!)

It sounds tricky but don’t panic! Removing dairy from your diet isn’t as hard as it sounds. Yes, you will have to check the food and drink labels for everything (even beer and wine can include milk!). Milk and dairy will be mentioned in bold in the ingredients, but can also be called butter, buttermilk or yoghurt too! Make sure you check properly. The key to success with this is to make sure you get a list of ‘safe’ treats and have them available at home so that you aren’t tempted to sway.

NB: Always re-check the ingredients on your safe list items, lots of supermarkets change their ingredients regularly and ingredients can vary depending on where in the country you live!

A list of Dairy Free foods and treats:

  • Tesco Sugar waffles
  • Aldi caramelised biscuits
  • Tesco bourbon creams
  • Aldi jaffa cakes
  • Aldi Oaties
  • Tesco Intense dark 85% dark chocolate
  • Aldi fruit loaf
  • Farleys rusks
  • Bagles
  • Most crumpets
  • Jackson’s bread
  • Booja Booja truffles and ice cream (a luxury treat!)
  • Green & Black 85% chocolate
  • Tesco raspberry sorbet
  • Oatly milk, vanilla custard, crème fresh and cream
  • Marshmallows
  • Nakd bars
  • Frusili bars
  • Betty Crocker cake mixes and frosting
  • Nush yoghurts and yoghurt tubes
  • Aldi and Tesco value garlic bread baguette
  • Pizza Express dough balls (minus the butter)
  • Vitalite spread
  • All vegan food is dairy free

Eating out tip – McDonalds food is largely dairy free and a quick, affordable treat.

Dairy free meal ideas top tips!

We make an awesome carbonara using Oatly cream or oatly crème fraiche, bacon lardons, egg and seasoning mixed in with spaghetti – its much healthier than using full fat cream and this is a substitute we will definitely be keeping even if we are able to eat milk in the future.

Similarly with lasagna, you can either make this without a cheese sauce, or switch the cheese sauce for white sauce without the dairy.

These dairy free chocolate brownie bites are also a delicious treat to have in the fridge ready.

Oat milk makes a brilliant milk substitute and can be used to make pancakes, Yorkshire puddings and chocolate mug cakes easily.

Sources of calcium:

It’s really important to make sure you are including enough calcium in your diet from other foods. Here are some ideas, but it’s a good idea to contact your dietician for a more tailored plan:

  • Tinned sardines
  • Calcium fortified substitute milk such as Oatly barista
  • Almonds
  • Tahini
  • Kale
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified bread
  • Tofu
  • Dried figs
  • Chia seeds
  • Broccoli

Reintroducing dairy as an allergy test:

Once you have been dairy free for over 6 weeks and have seen some improvement and continued to keep a record of symptoms, you can attempt to test the allergen using what is usually referred to as the ‘yoghurt test’. This involves the breastfeeding parent eating something high up on the milk ladder such as a milk yoghurt and then noting any reactions for up to 72 hours. If no reaction is noticed, it is worth continuing the test because sometimes reactions can occur due to a ‘build up’ of the milk proteins in the system rather than just a one off, small amount.

Allergy reactions to look out for:

  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Reflux
  • Colic
  • Diarrhoea
  • Green poops
  • Mucous in the nappy or slimy poops
  • Congestion, mucous (our daughter used to get s congested her ear drums would perforate and she would choke until she was sick)
  • Anaphylaxis

This list is not exhaustive and you may notice other reactions reappear in your child.

It is also worth noting here that soya is a common allergen alongside dairy. This is because the proteins are very similar and so react in a similar way. We ended up being soya free and dairy free to start off with. Eventually we were able to reintroduce soya within cooked food but not items such as soya milk and soya yoghurt.

Once you stop breastfeeding a child with CMPA:

We stopped breastfeeding at the end of last year. My daughter is still dairy free. We started the milk ladder with her but a recent eczema outbreak has put this on pause. One thing I didn’t realise was that as an adult who didn’t have a milk allergy but gave up milk to breastfeed, you may end up temporarily lactose intolerant. Rather than use the milk ladder to reintroduce milk into your own diet, you actually need to reintroduce lactose via the lactose ladder. Breastmilk contains its own form of lactose so if you want to avoid this later on, perhaps help yourself to some dairy free breastmilk along the way instead… no?

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