So it Begins

I was wishy-washy on whether or not I wanted to try this whole dairy-free thing.  I started to feel like I was depriving myself of something I really wanted before I even TRIED it! That’s not a good mindset to have. A few readers suggested I try it in February because it’s the shortest month. Psychologically that worked for me. Sure it may only be like 3 days short of a typical month but mentally it feels like doing something like this in February is doable. Not only that, Michael said he was on board. That definitely made it easier to wrap my brain around.


So for February we are going to go dairy-free and try gluten-free. It’s sort of like the Slow Carb Diet we tried a few years ago, but I’m not giving up fruit. I refuse. There are a lot of similarities to the Four Hour Body Diet.

Have you ever Googled “What foods have gluten in it?” Let me save you the trouble: EVERYTHING. Apparently! 😛

I don’t know how diligent I’m going to be quite yet. I’m taking it one week at a time. I know that a lot of products have dairy in them. I will try my best to avoid those things but I know stuff happens. As for the gluten–I will not be eating bread products or pasta but I doubt I’ll get super focused on things that might have gluten in them–like soy sauce.

I’ve made up a meal plan for February for lunches and dinners. It was actually really easy and not much different than what we normally eat now. Where I saw a difference was lunches: no more sandwiches. Snacks will be the hardest for me because I eat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt before going to the gym. It works really well for me and I’m not sure how that will fair. I haven’t found anything that works as well as that for a pre-workout snack.

What Do I Expect?

Honestly? I don’t expect to lose any weight. Sadly, I gained a few pounds on the Slow Carb Diet. I have no idea why. Michael dropped about 25 pounds. It worked really well for him. I am expecting this experiment to go about the same. It would be really nice if I lost a few pounds, but I’m not expecting it.

My hope is that I see a difference in my skin. It would be awesome if my acne cleared up due to diet and I could stop taking the acne medicine I hate. I also hope it fixes my runny nose. Other than those two things, I don’t have any expectations.


In preparation for this, I made a grocery list of must haves. I won’t get super specific but to give you an idea here is the list:

  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Chicken
  • Pork chops
  • Seafood
  • Hummus
  • Nuts
  • Dates
  • Raisins
  • Almond Milk

We already have a lot of the stuff. We have canned veggies, peanut butter, frozen seafood (scallops, shrimp, salmon), a bag of Quinoa from Costco that should last the month and some other items. I’m going to look for some things like salad dressing that don’t have dairy in it. I need to find an alternative to the coffee creamer I use.

Like I said above, I’ve made a food calender for February. I don’t know how closely we will follow it, but it’s nice to have a general idea of what meals to expect. I plan on making a bunch of soups on weekends for the week’s lunches. I printed a bunch of easy, simple recipes to make.

What Will Be Hard?

Giving up the dairy will be the hardest. I love sour cream, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. I also eat a lot of it! It’s funny–we haven’t had ice cream in the house in over a month and yet knowing I won’t be able to eat it in February makes me want it more!


Going gluten-free means no beer. Or at least, not very much. Michael’s friend Mike is gluten-free due to a severe allergy and he’s mentioned that there are a few beers that are gluten-free but honestly I think I’d rather just skip the beer.


The hardest part for Michael will be giving up pizza for a month. He gets slices for lunch during the work week and his go-to dinner when he doesn’t want to cook is pizza. It’s a huge no-no having both gluten and dairy! Also, I know he’ll struggle with giving up cheese (I think it’s his favorite food).

Somehow I need to change my thinking away from “What I Can’t Have” and focus on what I can eat, otherwise this will never work and I’ll be a crabby mess for a month!


I’ll do a post about once a week with an update on that week. I’ll include the high notes (good recipes, etc), challenges, observations and thoughts.

QUESTION: Are you dairy-free or gluten-free? Please share any tips, ideas, or suggestions!

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

35 thoughts on “So it Begins”

  1. I am not gluten free but I am wheat free. I am not dairy free but I am down to only greek yogurt, whey protein and the occasional pat of butter or bit of milk in coffee when I am out and cannot get the almond milk.

    I have noticed a huge difference in less dairy and it is enough that I want to stay less dairy and even have a bit less than I do now – but not try the all or nothing route with it. I recently switched to egg white protein powder and brown rice protein powder instead of whey protein. I am dropping back to having the yogurt only three times a week. I have coffee out maybe twice a week. Butter is perhaps once a month.

    We shall see how it all works.
    Jane recently posted..Guarding Boundaries

    1. Honestly I think I’m leaning more toward wheat free than gluten free but I’m going to at least try to go gluten free to see what happens.

      Everyone I’ve talked to that has gone dairy-free noticed a huge difference. I’m so curious to see if I will notice anything. I really want my skin to clear up and my runny nose. But if I don’t see a drastic change, I may do what you do–just limit the dairy to once or twice a week.

  2. I never went dairy free, but I went completely grain free for 3 weeks. Surprisingly, it was not hard once I just assumed everything had corn in it LOL! My family even had ordered Chinese food for a picnic during that time and I got steamed broccoli and shrimp without rice and loved it. I didn’t feel deprived or anything. There is so much to eat that you have to not look at it as being restrictive.

    I have to say I think it is a lot to give up gluten and dairy in a month, but if you aren’t completely grain free, it won’t be so hard. Potatoes are a great starch item when you want that. I also did a lot of recipes with coconut flour for biscuits and things when I wanted something ‘bready’.
    Lori recently posted..Bagels and vanity ideas

    1. Yep! When we did the Slow Carb diet, I didn’t miss bread at all.

      We don’t currently eat a lot of rice or potatoes, so adding that stuff to our meals will be a change as well.

  3. Husband and I are going gluten free very shortly. I sort of forgot that tomorrow is February, so it won’t be for another week or so. Good luck!

    Oh, also, if you’re wanting bread and pasta, look into Udi’s GF bread and Trader Joes Brown Rice Pasta. I hear they’re the best.
    Esther recently posted..Weekly Instagram Roundup #7

    1. Good luck to you and the hubby!

      I am making a trip to Trader Joe’s this weekend to get some gluten and dairy free stuff. I didn’t find a dairy free creamer I wanted at my grocery store; I’m hoping TJ has that.

    1. I think this challenge would be a lot easier if I was doing this because I had some ailment. Like Michael has gallbladder issues and carbs and cheese aggravate that–so a diet like this will most likely help him. But me? It’s just the runny nose and acne. If dairy-free or limited dairy can fix that, I’ll be happy.

  4. My boss has been gluten-free/wheat-free for a year. What I’ve learned from including him in company meals is that this way of eating requires a knife and fork. Meaning that in a lot of cases bread is only used to hold stuff together, and it’s pretty easy to lose it and still get the overall flavor of a dish. It just takes a little creativity. For pizza, you can do the cauliflower crust and no cheese or just eat the toppings from a dish (I know that seems weird but you get the same flavor, sorta). Order a burger with no bun, no cheese. Have a taco salad, no shell, no cheese. No reason you can’t eat sandwich fillings with a fork. Once you get in the mindset, it’s actually pretty easy logistics-wise. Just remember, brown rice tortillas are the work of the devil.

    1. We do that often–make taco salads instead of using tortillas. Mostly because it’s just easier and quicker. Lately I’ve been going bun-free in order to save some calories. I’ve been using Bibb lettuce or Boston lettuce as a wrap for the turkey burgers. It’s messy but it works pretty well and saves me a good 250 calories from dinner.

  5. My niece is allergic to wheat and dairy! If you want carb-y things the bob’s red mill all purpose GF mix works well for making pancakes (I just use a normal recipe with the GF flour and soy milk) and cornbread (I use my normal recipe but again GF flour and soy milk)- I haven’t tried it with a lot else. And if you mix up 1 c peanut butter, 1 c sugar, and 1 egg, it makes for really good cookies!

    When she visits Portland her favorite places to eat are laughing planet (easy to do no gluten no dairy there!), pizzicato (GF pizza without cheese-I’ve tried it and while it’s not the same as normal pizza, it’s actually good), and anywhere with Hawiian food (no mac salad, and nothing with soy sauce unless they use GF soy sauce), and mexican food (corn tortillas, no cheese). Some burgervilles even have GF buns!

    If you search “portland gluten free” and theres a great site for GF places to eat. I’ve heard Crave in Lake Oswego is awesome for GF baked goods.

    Oh and Deschutes has a gluten free menu and at least one GF beer on tap-I tried one once out of curiosity (pre-pregnancy obviously!) and it was actually pretty good. Like, if I idnd’t know it was GF I would’ve thought it was just an average beer-didn’t blow me away, but didn’t stand out as being weird.
    kalin recently posted..Eugene Race Recap?

    1. Okay you rock! Thanks for all the ideas and local tips. I figured it would be fairly easy to find restaurants in Portland that are vegan/vegetarian/glutenfree etc. I will check out the places you suggested. Bob’s is a good one. We buy our flour there. I wonder if Dave’s Killer bread has gf bread? We don’t live too far from there.

      I love Laughing Planet. So good. In fact, I’m going to model some of their “Bowls” for my lunches in February.

  6. Never gone gluten free – I’m too chicken. However, except for ice cream on the weekends (can’t help it) I’m pretty much dairy free. It was for vanity’s sake – I have acne problems too. The no-dairy has really helped – I don’t fight constant bacne anymore and my face doesn’t break out as much. I still get the occasional hormonal cyst (or could it be the weekend ice cream? not sure) but I used to constantly fight whiteheads and they’ve pretty much cleared out. Sorry for the TMI but there it is. I also lost weight but this may have been because the no-dairy rule meant the end of my nightly Greek-yogurt-with-granola habit. I tried this because of a book (in case you haven’t already read it!): The Clear Skin Diet by Alan C. Logan. I think what was most interesting about it was how some scientists and doctors just seem to dismiss a lot of research about food and its relationship to acne. Frankly, I’m still surprised they haven’t found a cure for acne – maybe they’re not motivated? I’m not sure anyone who hasn’t dealt with acne understands how it impacts your entire life. Really.

    1. I’m glad you found something that worked for you. I agree, unless you suffer from bad acne, you don’t get it. It’s such a blow to self-esteem to have humongous hormonal cysts on your chin that stick around for a month sometimes!!

      1. Lisa, have you tried the oil cleansing method? It sounds weird, but lots of people have been able to clear up their skin using a combination of oils and then a few swipes of a hot wash cloth. Google it!

  7. After your previous post when you were considering this, I decided to see if drastically reducing my dairy intake would make any difference. I switched out cow’s milk for soy, cut out cheese, and allowed myself just 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt a day (love it in a smoothie). Anyway, weirdly, when I weighed in on Wednesday at Weight Watchers I had lost 6 pounds (each of the three weeks previous had been 2, 1.5, and 2 pound losses). I don’t know if it is the dairy or the swimming or a combo. So I think I am going to keep going on it for another week or two and see how it progresses. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Cheering you on for your experiment. Once I read about how low inflammatory being grain and dairy free could be AND it might be helpful for weight maintenance- I was sold. One year down and I feel younger and better than I did in my 20’s (I’m 46). Rarely ever sick! It’s amazing. My blood work has never been better. (I’ll be blogging about this soon…)

    I hear you on the acne. Holy smokes. Painful and not fun to deal with . Mine is not totally gone, but I don’t have the painful stuff since going grain and dairy free.

    Here’s some more good things about being grain free that I found, your experience may be different.

    – less snacky and bingy
    -fewer carbs so I can have more avocados, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil- this healthy fat made me lean out. Keeps my hunger at bay, too.
    -food tastes way better, including spices, and especially vegetables
    – I didn’t have as many cravings
    – I became fat adapted- basically I could work out or go between meals without getting shaky or sleepy. my body burns my fat when it needs energy. I got pretty lean this way.
    – less belly bloating
    -almost 0 gas!!! :0
    – much easier time with weight maintenance. +/- 2 pounds for a year!

    Here are the best things I found with being dairy free- your experience might be different
    -less bloating
    – almost 0 gas!!! :0
    – almost no cystic acne, very little regular acne
    – my sinuses are clear
    – I can sleep better, no snoring
    -better focused during the day due to the sleep
    – fewer allergies.
    -fewer headaches.

    Honestly, I did not realize how bad I was feeling day in- day out until I tried being gluten free. The rest fell into place. I can still tolerate a little bit of dairy now and then. Blue cheese on a cobb salad.

    Good luck, I found the first week or two to be the worst. You’ll be able to customize what works for you as time goes. I’m excited for you. 🙂
    Karen P recently posted..I finished my first Whole30! Whoot!

    1. I really appreciate your comments with your experiences and observations. It gives me some hope that I will, too, see some sort of change. It doesn’t have to be drastic…but something!

      Like I think I’ve said before, I don’t feel “sick” in any way eating bread and dairy as much as I do. But i’m sure it contributes to other underlining things I just may not notice.

      When I decided to cut out most processed foods, I also found that food just tasted better.

  9. I’m dairy free for the most part and grain free. I do still eat butter and ranch dressing maybe once per week. I’ve been eating like this solidly for 7 months. It has made a huge difference with my weightloss success! I also no longer crave sweets or carbs at all. I used to get acne during my moon, but not anymore. I used to also have stomach issues which are gone as well. I take probiotics since I don’t eat yogurt anymore. Instead of rice you can make cauliflower rice. Instead of yogurt you can make chia seed pudding. You can use almond flour and/or coconut flour to make low GI bread, cookies and bisquits. I use truvia baking blend or liquid stevia to sweeten any recipes that require sugar. Silk has yummy soy coffee creamers. There are also coconut creamers that work well. If you shop at winco, you can buy nut flours and all kinds of whole nuts for cheap out of the bulk bins. I find that eating the extra fat from the nuts doesn’t hurt my weight loss as long as I stay in moderation and eat plenty of low GI veggies each day. I also eat low GI fruit, poultry and fish.

  10. You’ve chosen a seriously ambitious goal by excluding both gluten *and* dairy. It may be tough, but like you say, it’s a short month. I’m looking forward to your updates.

    Good luck Lisa!

  11. Just curious if there is a reason why you are going dairy and gluten free? Neither is needed unless there is a medical reason. Hope you don’t mind my asking!

    Also, I loved Las Vegas! It was amazing! I went to the Bellagio fountains, the roller coaster on New York New York, walked the strip, and did way way too much shopping!

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