I love reading books about nutrition and diet. If you check out my reading list on Goodreads you will see tons of health books: Brain Maker, The China Study, The Bulletproof Diet, Grain Brain, Sugar Crush, etc. As I get older, I want to be the best version of myself and minimize future health issues as much as possible. I understand that not everything is in my control, but I can control what I put into my body so I like to read up on the different studies and opinions.
I have tried a lot of different eating plans in the name of health. I did a 3-day juice cleanse, which was a total freaking nightmare… and a 5-day detox, which was a life-changer. I have been watching my sugar intake ever since that cleanse which permanently rid me of my lower back pain. The 5-day detox didn’t have any dairy, but it was only for 5 days. I have read over and over again all the reasons why you should cut out dairy, but I have never been able to bring myself to do it.
Cheese and I are CLOSE, people. Like besties for life. However, I figured I owed it to myself to at least give it a try for a month. I wanted to see if it would help clear up my skin (I have more skin issues now than I ever did as a teen, go figure!) and I also read that cutting out dairy could help get rid of undereye circles and you guys know I was down with that.
10 things I learned by going dairy-free for one month:
- I eat a LOT of dairy. Like a lot, a lot. I didn’t realize this until I decided to cut it out. Half & half in my coffee, Siggi’s yogurt as a snack and tons of cheese. Since I don’t eat meat, cheese makes up the ‘savory’ element of a lot of my foods. (something I never paid much attention to before)
- Dairy is in EVERYTHING. Dairy is all over the freaking place. Besides the obvious, it is used in many baked goods. My Kind bars had milk in the chocolate drizzle it uses and Perfect Bars use milk powder. Since I am running around for work a lot, I like to keep these bars in my bag. I switched them out for vegan Lara bars and chia bars.
- Going out to eat is impossible. Besides ordering a salad without cheese, it was really hard to order items at restaurants. I didn’t want to be obsessive about this, especially during client lunches. There is no way to know if a splash of milk or cream was used in a sauce. Another tough one, butter! Restaurants throw that stuff in everything and sometimes it just wasn’t as obvious as I thought it would be.
- I felt like a pain in the ass. I had a number of family events during this month, and while I didn’t say anything at first, my changed eating habit became pretty obvious to those who know me. (I am the first one to devour a cheese plate) Everyone was asking me WHY I was trying this and I got a lot of, “Well you already don’t eat meat so what DO you eat?”
- There are some really good dairy replacements. I hate almond milk in my coffee, but I decided to try Califa Farms Better Half coffee creamer. It is half coconut cream and half almond milk and it is SO good. Like, I am not going back to half & half good. They have a no sugar version and one that has 1 gram per serving. Both are great. Another new food item I am now obsessed with is Kite Hill chive almond milk spread. This is so amazing, I put it on everything now.
- However, there are some things that you just can’t live without. Parmesan cheese, for example. I am surprised by how much I missed parm on my zoodles, sprinkled on top of soup, etc. The dairy-free parm replacements just didn’t cut it for me. Another big one I missed was sour cream. Again, no replacement for that one fit the bill.
- I was exhausted. I don’t know if cutting out dairy had anything to do with this, but the entire month I did this I felt tired. Noticeably tired. I have no idea why this was, but I know how I felt.
- I am apparently pretty dairy-tolerant. I am saying this because I didn’t notice ONE change after cutting out dairy for a month. I didn’t lose weight, my skin didn’t look clearer and the bags under my eyes… still there.
- I could NEVER do this permanently. Doing this confirmed what I basically already knew, I could never live a life without dairy. I know lots of people do it and are happy with it, but to me it felt like torture.
- I am still glad I did it. It was interesting to see how much dairy I had been eating. By doing this little experiment I am now more aware of it and want to eat a more healthy balance of dairy. I am going to stick to using the dairy-free creamer and will pay more attention to how much dairy I am eating. I was also really proud of myself for being able to stick with it. It also proved to me for the millionth time that my husband is awesome. He fully supported me and cooked dairy-free dinners for the month. I am always trying all sorts of craziness and he always has my back, no matter what I do.
Have you ever tried going completely dairy-free? Do you already live a dairy-free lifestyle? I would love to hear some of your favorite recipes and substitutions, since I am going to try to eat a bit less dairy from here on out.