Friday, April 11, 2008

Which GFCF/GFCFSF Milk Substitute Should I Use?

Great question! Unfortunately, there is no ONE "right" answer to this one. Each kid has different needs, issues, intolerances, and taste preferences. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure this one out, but here is some information that might be helpful to somebody just starting out on the GFCF/GFCFSF diet.

Milk Subs to Avoid
First, let's get this out of the way. Many parents avoid the following:

1. Rice Dream rice milk. It's NOT truly gluten-free even though it says it is. It's a labeling loophole that the company chooses to slip through. Many parents report that they weren't seeing good results on the diet on Rice Dream. They removed the Rice Dream and things got better. I have a very detailed post on this. Click HERE to read it.

2. Soy milk. While soy is GFCF, soy acts very similarly to gluten and casein, so many parents (like me!) go soy-free in addition to gluten- and casein-free.

3. Almond milk. Sounds GFCF and it is, but all brands currently have soy.

4. Other nut milks. Again, read labels and you'll find soy/soy lecithin.

Now for the milk subs that you could try...

OPTION 1: Rice Milk
Pacific brand rice milk is GFCFSF. However, somebody on the (very awesome) GFCFKids yahoo group recently found out Pacific rice milk has corn in it (many kids seem to have issues with corn). Another mom on the GFCFKids yahoo group posted that West Soy Rice Milk is GFCFSF, even though the word "soy" is in the name. I've never tried this one so I can't say anything about it one way or another.

Things to Consider with Rice Milk
Rice milk is pretty cheap, but it's also not very nutritious. People just starting GFCF tend to use a lot of rice as their starch of preference at dinner, etc, so using a rice milk would give you MORE rice. This could lead to an intolerance. Rice can also be constipating, so if your child tends to get constipated a lot, you might want to avoid or tone down the rice milk. Rice also feeds yeast, which is a whole other problem for another day!

I have learned that Pacific Rice Milk is run on shared equipment with soy. Read my post about this by clicking HERE.

OPTION 2: Hempmilk
There are two brands that I know of: Living Harvest and Manitoba. Living Harvest seems to be the more popular of the two, most likely because it tastes sweeter. Living Harvest is also cheaper than Manitoba at our Whole Foods. Hempmilk has pretty good nutrition, with good calcium and essential fatty acids (EFAs).

Things to Consider with Hempmilk
There have been 3 concerns raised with hempmilk that I am aware of: (1) it's kind of high in sugars (brown rice syrup is the sweetener I think); (2) the company has only done 1 test to see if it was truly gluten free -- it tested GF (read more HERE), but some on the GFCFKids yahoo group have really sensitive kids and would like to see the company test more frequently; (3) some kids seem to have a hard time digesting the Omega 6s. A commenter on this blog raised an issue about this; read about it under the Comments section -- CLICK HERE.

I have learned (July 2008) that Living Harvest hempmilk is produced on shared lines with soy beverages and rice beverages. Click HERE for my post on this.

I have communicated with Manitoba Harvest, and I now think that they are the greatest company ever and make a damn good hempmilk. (They have a new taste formula.) Read my latest post about this HERE.

OPTION 3: Vance's Dari-Free
This is available online and is potato-based. It comes in a powder that you mix with water. You'll see Dari Free in some recipes in GFCF cookbooks. I got it once and thought it tasted the most similar to regular cow's milk than the others. Interestingly, though, this is the only milk sub my son HASN'T liked!

Things to Consider with Dari-Free
Because it comes as a powder, you have to take the time to mix it with water. I thought this was kind of a pain. But I also kind of thought it was cool to be able to just take out as much as you wanted and it wouldn't spoil once it was opened. Note that potato also is a yeast feeder, so watch out for yeast issues if you're hitting the Dari-Free! I've also been told by another GFCF mom that Vance's Dari Free contains corn (corn syrup), which is a problem for many kids.

OPTION 4: Coconut Milk
You'll hear a lot about coconut milk and coconut oil on the GFCF diet. Coconut is a natural yeast-fighter so lots of us like to use it in stuff. I personally like it for my son because it's high in good fats and my son is on the skinny side (this is common with SPD - low tone - and autism).

Things to Consider with Coconut Milk
The taste of coconut milk is strong -- like coconut, duh! -- and it's much thicker than other milk subs. My son hates the taste of it straight, and I think that's pretty common with others. So I mix the coconut milk in with my son's other milk subs. If I mix in too much, he can tell right away and gets mad! But if it's not too much, he drinks it. Also note that coconut milk usually comes in a can. If your child has had heavy metals testing done and has come back high in aluminum, this might be an issue for you.

OPTION 5: Make your own milk
Appparently some moms take the time to do this. I am totally not that cool. But word on the street is that you can grind up your rice, almonds, hazlenuts, or whatever and run water through it and strain it and you get milk??? It's an option but I'm not quite there... :)

OPTION 6: Don't use milk
We are raised to think that milk is so necessary, but really you can get calcium and other vitamins from other sources. Try to get your child to drink more water and save the milk subs for treats and for cooking.

OPTION 7: Breastmilk
(This one actually isn't a "milk sub" since it's really the ONLY milk a human is meant to drink!) If you are nursing (or want to re-lactate), note that YOU also need to be GFCF if you want your self-made beverage to be GFCF too!

What I Do
In the beginning of the diet, I didn't give any milk subs. My son loved his cow milk so much (due to the morphines) that I knew he would reject whatever sub I gave him. So I gave him anything but milk. I gave him water, lemonade, spritzers, juice, root beer, soda, tea -- whatever I could find that was liquid. Then after a week or maybe 2 I gave him a milk sub and he drank it with no problem. (I was SO relieved!) I think that break from cow's milk let his taste buds "forget" the taste.

I use a mixture of hempmilk (usu. Living Harvest original flavor) and rice milk (Pacific brand original flavor) for my son's drinks. By "mixture" I mean that I mix them about 1/2 and 1/2 in a little pitcher I keep in the fridge. And when I'm lazy or the pitcher is in the dishwasher, then I just give him hempmilk one time and rice the next. I do this because I don't want my son to develop an intolerance to something or, on the other hand, to develop a particular rigidity with either one. (And when I do the pitcher thing I sometimes add in some coconut milk for the yeast fighting and bulk-making of it.)

In cold cereal, my son prefers rice milk. For cooking stuff that calls for milk (pancakes, pudding), I use coconut milk or hempmilk.

One awesome thing about milk subs is that they are shelf-stable. So you can order them online in bulk, or you can stock up whenever you get a chance to go to the health food store.

Hope this helps! Good luck finding your perfect milk sub!


~M said...

I'm not cf or sf but what a great post! The formatting made it very easy to read, too. If you ever try making homemade milk (or cinnamonny horchata), please post about it!

GFCF Mommy said...

Great post! I like how you listed the things to consider with each milk substitute. We also tend to blend our milks now, or kind of informally rotate. I need to check out hemp milk, I have read good things about it but have not tried it yet. Also, in the past constipation has been a big problem at our house and DariFree added to that problem, but the stuff does taste good! We can't use it though.

Virginie said...

Wait... Almond Breeze is NOT soy free?

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DISCLAIMER. I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. I'm just a mom who has been implementing the GFCF diet since October 2007 (and soy-free about 5 weeks thereafter). Please do not rely upon my blog as your sole source of information or advice. I only offer my personal experiences for your consideration and can not be held responsible for any adverse reaction or experience you or your child may have should you choose to try something I have tried. Remember that every child is unique, and what works for mine may not work for yours.