Various dairy foods grouped together

Crohn's Disease and Dairy

For almost 9 years, dairy was an intense trigger food for me that I had to avoid. Before being diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I was a dairy feign. As a matter of fact, I had a glass of milk every single morning and gulped it up with total joy. I loved dairy.

Milk, cheese, and dairy deliciousness

One of my favorite desserts was Oreos dunked in milk. I would take the cookie and hold it under the milk until the bubbles stopped popping up, then hold it a little more until it was just about to dissolve in my fingers. Then I would throw it in my mouth and enjoy the pure magic of glorious flavors tickling my palette. And I wouldn't let the milk left behind go to waste, you better believe that was being gulped down soon after.

Cheese was also a huge love of mine. All types of cheeses: American, Swiss, provolone, brie, Manchego, asiago, muenster, mozzarella, and the list goes on. So as you can imagine, when I suddenly realized dairy was a huge no for me, my heart sank.

But Crohn's and dairy didn't mix

The onset happened almost immediately. Once I started to feel my first symptoms of Crohn's, I noticed too that certain foods were bothering me like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Yogurt was a bummer as well because I often had that for breakfast in the morning with toast and butter.

Then when I was officially diagnosed with Crohn's by my gastroenterologist at the time, he told me to stay away from dairy. No milk, no cheese, no yogurt, nothing with dairy. So I tried my best to avoid one of my favorite food groups and it was painfully hard.

I could get away with a bite or 2 from cheese but only certain kinds. Asiago and Manchego were always kind to me in small doses. Milk, however, always upset my system, and definitely yogurt too. For years, it was a no-dairy diet for me until about 5 years into my diagnosis, I tried dairy again and still, it was a no.

Dairy substitutes

About 7 years into my diagnosis, I read about the benefits of Kefir. So I tried to have some and found that it was very hit or miss. Firstly, I could only have small amounts and it was like Russian roulette. At times I was fine, and other times I had to go straight to the washroom and regretted having it.

Throughout all those years, I did learn that not all is hopeless if you can't have dairy because the amazing substitutes that are out there these days make being dairy-free much more tolerable. One of my favorite ice creams is made from coconut milk. It really feels like you're eating the real thing. 

Also, putting coconut milk in coffee tastes great. Almond milk in coffee is a hit or miss for me, it completely depends on the brand. For my yogurt fix, I grab So Delicious coconut milk yogurt, which tastes lovely.

After finding the right Crohn's treatment

Thankfully, I have to say once I did find the medication that worked for me, I was able to tolerate dairy again. Today, I can have milk and cheese with no problem, which is such a win!

So don't lose hope. If you were able to tolerate dairy before your diagnosis, there is the possibility to be able to enjoy it again! As long as you find that right treatment to control your Crohn's – at least this was my experience.

How about you? Can you tolerate dairy, or is it a big no? What are some of your favorite dairy substitutes? Share below, we love to hear from you.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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