Did you know that dairy is the #1 food allergen for humans? Most of us don’t even know we have an allergy or intolerance to dairy.
Dairy is very pro-inflammatory so that means it kicks your immune system into high gear each and every time you eat it. And, an overburdened immune system means the resources are being used to fight off food allergens in the body so there aren’t many available for fighting real diseases. And inflammation leads to bloating and swelling so you feel puffy.
Dairy is also considered an expansive and build up food. Dairy as we know it today (aka pasteurized and homogenized) has been processed to increase its protein and calcium content which are building blocks for the body. And, if you put more building blocks together, you get something that is bigger; this is how dairy can make you feel puffy and gain weight. In addition to its building properties, dairy has been shown to block our pathways of elimination, so if wastes and toxins can’t be eliminated, our bodies become inflamed and we get sick.
If you suffer from constant sniffles, joint pain, acne, digestive disorders like constipation or embarrassing gas, or even mental fog, you may need to cut dairy right out of your diet. Now, I realize this is tough and your first reaction was probably “what?!!? No way – what will I have for breakfast? I love yogurt in the morning!” Or something along those lines.
Wait, before you completely turn around and leave, here me out.
I used to be like you – I had milk in my cereal, I ate a ton of Greek yogurt, and I would have a Babybel cheese at least once a day. My favorite meal was tomato soup made with milk and grilled cheese sandwiches. I loved shredding cheese and mixing it into my pasta. I ate a lot of dairy! However, I also had a lot of health issues and I was super frustrated with my weight and my skin.
I first started cutting out cheese slowly, then reduced my milk intake, and finally was down to just 1 cup of Greek yogurt once or twice a week. I saw a bunch of great results – clearer (but not perfect) skin, weight loss, more mental clarity, and quite a bit more energy. I eventually realized that even Greek yogurt hurt my stomach – I got these dull aches almost immediately after eating it – so I cut out dairy entirely about 3 years ago. My weight is quite stable, my skin is quickly cleared up with some liver-cleansing foods, and I rarely get embarrassing gas or bloating now.
If you’re convinced to swap your dairy, I’ll make the transition a little easier for you by giving you some great tips.
- While it’s best to go cold turkey, this can be tough. Cut it out slowly, starting with soft, mild cheeses. Switch to aged cheese for now and slowly cut back on how much you eat.
- Do you love yogurt? Try switching to kefir, which is highly fermented and can be more digestible for people with dairy allergies. Or, try the new types of non-dairy yogurts, like coconut milk or almond milk yogurt.
- Use coconut milk in place of dairy in most of your foods. From a can of full-fat coconut milk, you can use the liquid portion in smoothies or oatmeal; you can use the solid portion in place of cream in coffee or even whip it into whipped cream for dessert! You can also use it in recipes where it calls for dairy.
- Keep a bunch of healthy snacks on hand. When you cut back on a certain food, your body may trick you into thinking its hungry, making you want to fall back on old habits and grab something familiar. Stash raw nuts, fresh fruit or cut up veggies in your fridge, pantry or office desk for a quick, easy snack.
- Try Brewer’s yeast in place of cheese in pasta, soups, salads or other recipes. Brewer’s yeast is a bit different taste but gives you that creamy texture that cheese is known for.
- Swap out yogurt in parfaits or breakfast bowls for mashed bananas. You can even make dairy-free ice cream with bananas right at home too!
If you’re worried about calcium, don’t be. Calcium needs vitamin D to be properly absorbed and our standard meals doesn’t typically contain this perfect combination. Calcium is rich in other non-inflammatory foods anyway. Choose calcium-rich foods like broccoli, beans, nuts, sesame seeds and salmon instead.