First, we asked Baker to define what makes milk dairy or dairy-free. According to Baker, dairy milk comes from cows, while non-dairy milk comes from other sources like nuts, seeds, or fruit. But, she warns, it’s still not quite that easy. “You can’t just read the front of the box and buy it if it says ‘non-dairy,’” says Baker. “Some products, like milk or creamer, say non-dairy, but on the ingredient list there may be a protein derived from milk, like whey, which can be dangerous if you have an allergy or condition where you can’t consume dairy, like lactose intolerance.”
This led us to our second question: Are all those health bloggers snapping pics of their almond milk matcha lattes on Instagram lactose intolerant? Is the dairy-free trend just for those with an intolerance or allergy, or does it make sense for everyone? Baker explains that today, more than ever, we’re hyper-aware of what we’re consuming. On top of that, we’ve got more and more options. More awareness and options give us a better chance of figuring out what makes us feel our best.
“More individuals are discovering that they’re lactose intolerant or simply have a lactose sensitivity,” says Baker. Wondering if this is you? “Drink a cup of dairy milk and see if you feel like you just ate a can of beans,” says Baker. (We recommend trying this on a night you have zero social plans.)
But just because you may have dairy-milk sensitivity, that doesn’t necessarily mean other types of dairy are off-limits. “I, myself, have a sensitivity to milk, but oddly not feta cheese or frozen kefir,” says Baker. Ultimately, she advises testing various types of dairy to see how your body reacts.