A lovely friend and avid TFB reader asked me if, within my intermittent fasting lifestyle and general love of indulgent and diverse foods, there was anything I NEVER ate. Well, readers, while I can’t say there’s anything that I “never” eat (never say never, and I’m not a damn quitter) – there IS something specific I actively try to avoid.
About two years ago, I stopped eating (most, cow) dairy. I hadn’t realized how much dairy I was actually eating until I mindfully tried to eliminate it as part of The Plan (an eating program you can read all about here, should it interest you) – and once it was out of my life, I noticed some real changes.
What kind of changes? Glad you asked, peeps.
When I stopped putting cream in my coffee, getting cheese on my burgers, popping feta in my salads, ordering extra cheese on pizzas, pouring milk in my lattes, ordering the cheese plate at fancy restaurants, treating myself with ice cream and fro-yo, and considering plain yogurt my “healthy” snack, some amazing things happened:
- I lost actual, measurable weight
- My skin basically became breakout-proof (save an errant zit here and there)
- I stopped bloating after meals
- I pretty much eliminated any gas issues (much to the relief of my crop-dusted husband)
- I had more energy
- I discovered my long-dormant love for soy and nut milks (bonus!)
My cousin summarizes the non-dairy movement in one simple phrase: “not your mom, not your milk.” By that he means that if it’s not your “native” species’ developmental food (I’m definitely not about to hate on the magic of breastfeeding!), and if you’re already a fully grown adult, your need for any other animal’s milk is pretty much nonexistent.
The old wives’ tale about milk being the best source of protein and calcium has also been busted by – you guessed it – SCIENCE (eggs have far more protein without sugar per serving; sesame seeds, almonds, and spinach have more calcium by weight by far), and for most of us, we can absolutely do without the lactose sugars most dairy products have in spades (a single cup of skim milk, for example, has almost as much sugar as a 3/4 cup serving of Lucky Charms cereal – and if you combine both for your breakfast meal, you may as well be eating a McDonald’s McFlurry to kick off your day – it’d have less sugar).
There are studies that show that sheep and goat milk dairy have less of an impact on human digestion than does cow’s milk, and of course soy and nut milks are even more neutral (though they vary widely in quality, so make sure to do your research on these). There are enough coconut, almond, hemp, and soy products on the market to fill nearly any gap that taking dairy out of your diet may leave – and I for one have rarely had trouble finding nondairy alternatives unless I was way out in the boonies (damn it, Cambodia!).
If you are determined to maintain cow’s milk dairy in your diet by persistence or preference, cool – I’m not here to take your Taleggio or be libellous to your Limburger. What I would recommend is making the switch (for many of us, the switch BACK, after the non-fat craze of the 1990s) to full-fat dairy, limiting your cow’s milk dairy to special occasions (like a trip to Paris, for example), and making sure plain Greek yogurt is one of the dairy products you keep in your rotation (can’t beat the probiotic and protein double hitter).
Whether or not you choose to continue eating cow’s milk and other dairy products is of course a case of personal preference – but if you’re mystified about why you feel sluggish, bloated, fat, or are breaking out – it may be time to rethink the white stuff n your diet.
Are you a true-blue milk drinker or a nondairy convert? What’s your fave dairy alternative?