Dairy-Free

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I got home from the gym on Tuesday of this week to find Michael making his famous (and amazing) pimento cheese. NOM! I love this stuff. It’s so good. Why do I bring this up? Because I’m thinking about dairy.

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One of the things I did not like about the Slow-Carb diet was that fruit was not allowed. I don’t care if there are sugars and carbs in fruit–it’s natural and healthy. Fruit is NOT a bad thing. Because of that, I disliked the Slow-Carb diet from the start. But a few years ago I gave it a try for a few weeks. The outcome: I gained weight and Michael lost 25 pounds. Of course!

That being said, I’ve been thinking lately that my diet needs a jump start. I’ve been in kind of a rut with my food, not seeing much of a loss on the scale, and feeling frustrated. While I’m not really trying to lose very much, I would like to see a few pounds off that scale.

A few months ago my mom went on a diet to address some allergy issues. Her doctor suggested she cut out dairy and grains for three weeks and then slowly add back one at a time to see which one was causing the issues. It turned out that cutting dairy and bread from her diet was a miracle. She lost like 14 pounds, lowered her cholesterol a few points and fixed her constant runny nose. While I am usually against any diet that is so restrictive or labeling certain foods as “bad” or “forbidden,” this intrigued me.

I don’t really need to lose 14 pounds and my cholesterol is fine. But I do have some inflammation in my body and allergy issues. I have a runny nose all the time. I blame my cats (allergies), I blame the toxic mold in my office (I know it’s there), I blame seasonal allergies…but I never associate it with food. And seriously, my nose is ALWAYS runny.

I was talking to someone on twitter who has been dairy-free for two years. She loves it! She said the results were immediate for her and it cleared up her skin. I would love a cure for my acne because what I’m currently doing does not work well.

I started to wonder: could something like this help me too?

Then I wondered: could I actually cut out dairy?

When I did the Slow-Carb Diet, I had no problem cutting out bread products. I found that once I STOPPED eating it, I didn’t crave it. Same with sugar. The problem was when I ate some–then my body wanted more and my brain would get super focused on it. Cutting out bread was easy because I don’t eat a ton of pasta, don’t really take sandwiches for lunch and our dinners didn’t include potatoes or rice on a regular basis. I didn’t miss it.

What did I miss? Besides the fruit (see above rant), dairy was the hardest to give up. I put flavored creamer in my coffee each morning. I may only have one cup of coffee but it’s necessary. I cannot drink it just black. Yuck. I also admit to being addicted to sour cream. I put it on everything I possibly can. I count the calories and use moderation, but I do put it on a lot of things. Also, I eat plain Greek yogurt as my pre-workout snack and it works great. I have no found anything else that works as well except hummus (but that sits in my stomach like a rock).

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Could I give up dairy entirely? My mom doesn’t even put butter on her vegetables. I could cut out milk. I could probably get over the sour cream thing. But the yogurt would be particularly hard for me.

I know the only way I’ll figure it out is if I try it but I’m dragging my feet. I told myself that I’d wait until all the dairy is gone from the fridge and then do it. Still, I feel apprehension and dread–like anyone about to start a diet. I’m not sure yet what I will do or when I will do it. It may just be for a week or maybe two to test the waters. I am still thinking it through.

QUESTION: Are you dairy-free or have you gone dairy-free? What was your experience?

36 Responses

  1. As much as I hate the taste of milk, I LOVE yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cheese, butter… and I don’t think I could do away with those things. Bread I’ve cut out for months (right now I’m on a bread kick though and just baked a loaf last night most of which I will probably freeze) at a time without a problem, that’s easy enough. But dairy? No thanks.
    Deb recently posted..Thursday Day 461 Food Diary

    1. I love it too, that’s why it’s going to be REALLY hard if I decide to do this. Sure, I can do it short-term. I can avoid all dairy (except in my coffee, that’s the one exception I’d make) for a few weeks but I’m not sure that I could do it long term.

  2. I’ve lost weight eating dairy so I don’t even try to give it up anymore. I do limit milk because it messes with my stomach. My mom has osteoporosis and has worked out her whole life so I figure I’d better get my calcium in. I wouldn’t even count flavored creamer as dairy, it’s all chemicals (you can put your fingers in your ears, that’s ok).

    I also think I’m sorta allergic to my cats and dog, but oh well. 🙂

  3. I have followed a vegan diet before and it is difficult. I recently cut out all meat, but have allowed eggs and cheese, but I do think of all the saturated fat that comes with cheese so I still try and avoid it. I love yogurt as well and they do make a coconut based yogurt along with milk, creamer, and ice cream. It’s delicious. Not sure if you have heard of the brand So Delicious, but that is the brand of coconut milk I use. You can find non dairy alternatives to most things. I don’t think I will go as far as the veggie cheese shreds or other processed items, but definitely try to coconut yogurt!

  4. I have seriously considered going dairy free, but decided against it. I have a very very VERY mild dairy allergy, but not enough for me to be forced to stop ingesting it. Husband has a bit of lactose intolerance, but he still eats it in moderation. I just love cheese too much to give it up entirely. But I can limit it, which I’ve done. I’ve gone from buying a gallon of milk a week to barely making it through a quart in a week. We don’t eat nearly as much cheese as we used to, except for when I make certain dishes (like a pasta bake or something). I don’t eat ice cream on a regular basis. And since I’ve stopped drinking coffee, I don’t need the flavored cream (which, in regard to what Carbzilla said above me, I only bought Coffee Mate Natural Bliss, which has nothing artificial in it and is 100% dairy). I’ve noticed that, just by cutting back, I feel better. I still get enough calcium, but it’s not OMGDAIRYOVERLOAD.

    That was long winded and provided no real advice, but there you go.
    Esther recently posted..Review – Bryn & Dane’s in Horsham, PA

  5. I am intrigued by the idea of giving up dairy but that is my main source of protein since I am trying to minimize meats. I don’t love beans, they are just OK. So I am not sure how I could get enough protein. What do you think?

  6. This post for me was like an epiphany! I too have a constantly runny nose. Years ago I smoked cigarettes and thought that was the cause and have also blamed it on allergies. I also struggle with acne. It hurts my heart a little as I too love sour cream. Like, seriously, love it, want it, have to have it! But for me it seems worth it. My trainer has mentioned cutting dairy to me before, but I couldn’t even fathom it. After all, I’m calorie conscious and always get fat-free versions! But if it could help with these issues it’s totally worth it!

  7. I have done different periods where I gave up grains, meat, and even caffeine (dear Lord that was awful!!). I would never give up dairy completely. I have reduced it some. I drink almond milk with my coffee in the morning most days, but I am so not interested in doing that with my lattes. I hate soy milk, so that’s not an option. I do find that my face stays clearer the less dairy I eat, but I don’t notice any other changes.

    My husband thought he was lactose intolerant and used the lactaid pills, but they didn’t make any difference for him (personally, I think he might have an issue with gluten, but he won’t give that up).
    Lori recently posted..An article on what research says about losing weight and keeping it off

    1. I’ve given up coffee too and did NOT like it! LOL

      I will try alternatives for my coffee. I will not eat soy products if I can help it. I know it’s in almost everything now but I won’t drink the milk or other products. I haven’t tried almond milk before so I will look for it. Good to know that your skin cleared up. Gives me hope…

      1. Hi Lisa,

        How come you avoid soy products? I don’t know much about them but I was thinking that maybe I could start lessening dairy by subbing in soy milk for cow’s milk.

        1. I don’t want soy products if I can help it because of the bioengineering that goes into it. In a perfect world I wouldn’t eat any processed foods but I know I’m not perfect. What I can do is make a strong effort to avoid soy.

  8. Last year I chose the month of February to try a vegan challenge. It helped me psychologically knowing it was the shortest month of the year (though it WAS a leap year last year). I learned it is almost impossible to eat out on a vegan diet without a fair amount of research/planning/selectivity. I learned that I would not seek out vegan mac & cheese, even at a nationally-famous mac & cheese restaurant. I learned that coconut milk ice cream is very tasty but eating it is not conducive to losing weight. I learned that I COULD drink my coffee with soy creamer.

    I had no intention of permanently changing my diet and was glad that I didn’t feel markedly different (I usually eat pretty healthily anyway). I wasn’t doing it to lose weight and didn’t lose any; I wish I’d had my blood tested before and after to see if/how it affected things like cholesterol.

    I’m considering trying to give up gluten but that seems so much more daunting to me. I have some developing arthritis issues and I keep hearing about various dietary cures for it, but I’m resisting it.
    bethh recently posted..Settling in

  9. I love dairy! Honestly though, I think it’s so much easier to give up now with all of the nondairy milks, yogurts etc out there. I would try it if I were you, especially after your Mom’s results. You can always go back if it doesn’t work for you.

    When years ago my husband went on Atkins, he lot a ton of weight. I ended up doing it too since we ate together all the time. I didn’t lose anything. Now, I know that he’s a fast oxidizer and I’m a slow oxidizer. You are probably slow too – we need some carbs (not necessarily bread but fruit, yogurt, etc. I eat bread though 😉
    Stacie @ Snaps and Bits recently posted..Avoiding Whine Country

    1. Yes! I was a vegetarian for about 10 years or so and back then when I was it was hard to find alternatives. I think the only product out there was that morning star stuff. Nowadays there are more options for alternate diets.

      What do you mean by a slow and fast oxidizer?

  10. I was always under the impression that pimento cheese was a southern thing and perhaps Michael has southern roots. My aunt, who lived in Portland when I was growing up, mentioned recently that pimento cheese is something she has a hard time finding on the west coast (but she may not be looking very hard for it) and she won’t make it from scratch. Since it is a higher calorie item, she only has pimento cheese when she is visiting her family in the south and then looks forward to having it again next time she comes to visit. Perhaps that is her secret to maintaining a healthy weight – refusing to enjoy certain foods unless she is near their origin.

    And I wrote all of that to tell you that I found it interesting that Michael makes homemade pimento cheese, which I agree is a delicacy when made correctly!

  11. An often viable alternative to giving up dairy is to consume raw dairy — if you have access to it. I have dairy problems, but I find that raw dairy causes relatively little damage.

    Of course, you have to find a good source. I live in rural Vermont — I can find 20 raw dairy farms within just 20 miles. But I have one just 5 minutes down the road from me so don’t need to go far.

    Raw dairy from hormone/antibiotic free cows contains all the necessary enzymes and lactic bacteria to help you digest the sugars and protein. Pasteurization and homogenization do loads of damage to milk and it’s byproducts, making it far unhealthier than raw.

    And the flavor of raw dairy is out of this world.

    It might be something worth looking into if you find you have a positive reaction to limiting dairy, but miss it too much to continue on.

    Cheers!
    Trevor recently posted..A Friday Night Kick in the Ass

    1. I have never had raw dairy. I’ve never even had whole milk before. I have no idea what it tastes like. I grew up in a house that drank 2% milk until my dad decided to lose some weight and we switched to 1%. When I was losing my weight I drank non-fat. Now I usually drink 1%.

      I would definitely try it, if I could find it. I live in Portland which is a fairly decent sized city but it’s surrounded by farm country so it wouldn’t be very hard to find something nearby.

  12. no way! I couldn’t go dairy-free. I love a glass of milk with dinner. I couldn’t go carb-free. I couldn’t go vegetable free. I couldn’t go fruit free.
    I could go protein free (it’s just not my favorite and a struggle to try to make sure I eat some every day! LOL)
    But alas, no one has invented the pasta primavera, eggplant parm diet yet.

    1. I laughed so hard at your comment! I want that diet too!!!!

      Why my “lifestyle” of everything in moderation has worked so well is because I don’t deny myself anything. I think when you start saying “I won’t eat ____ ever” it sets us up for failure. Just CONSIDERING going dairy free has me jonesing for DAIRY. So……who knows…

  13. I hope that you’ll try your dairy free experiment. I’ve had great success with being dairy free.

    My nose and sinus are more clear ( less inflammation) so I sleep better. I feel a lot better and I’m more productive during the day. Less acne. It’s all good.

    Plus, I figure if I’m reducing my inflammation, I put myself at lower risk for chronic diseases, too. It’s away to optimize both my health and how I feel and live day to day. I did not realize how crappy I felt by having dairy and how much it effected me day in and day out. The sinus inflammation and acne are all forms of inflammation- not so great for cardiac and stroke health- IMO.

    After the my whole30 this month, I’ll be trying to bring back whey protein (Designer whey protein- Trader Joe’s) ). There are some processed proteins with some of the casein removed so the dairy sensitive can still have. I’ll also be trying a little bit of clarified butter (ghee) to see how I feel. I will need to wait 3-4 days after trying to see if I react to it.

    Good luck. I hope you’ll give it a try. Giving up dairy doesn’t always mean giving up all forms, just the ones that make you feel worse. Totally worth the trial and error for an elimination diet. If you are having full fat dairy in your coffee and it doesn’t effect you- total bonus! I still do a little bit of blue cheese from time to time on a cobb salad and it works okay for me.

    Ps- I think it’s cool that your mom did an elimination diet and is looking at that stuff. I really think food, mind, and exercise are so key to optimizing your overall health. Feeling better day in day out adds that quality to life.

    Let us know if you try it. Could you retrain yourself to think of it as a wellness measure- just like exercise and weight control rather than restriction?
    Karen P recently posted..Updating my blog roll soon- we are stronger together

    1. I will definitely be giving it a try. I hope I can get my butt in gear to research and plan before Feb 1st. I like the idea of doing it for the shortest month of the year. 🙂

      I’m glad my mom had a good experience with it. She’s been raving about how much better she feels and she looks fantastic!

      Thanks for your insight!

    1. My boyfriend is on board for doing a dairy free and bread-free February. I think it will be easier with support.

      Thanks for checking me out! Did you hear the podcast on Half-Size Me?

  14. I love all things dairy. I worked at a law firm in Chicago that provided milk, orange juice, bagels, cream cheese all the time. I drank like 3 tall glasses of skim milk a day! Until one day it didn’t like me back. I think I overdid it on the dairy, and now I can have milk just once in a while.

    However, cheese is a different story – and Greek yogurt – those are two staples in my life I am just not willing to give up. Oh, and wine too! 😀
    Biz recently posted..They Love Hot Nuts!

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