I’ve gone dairy-free for a week and feel less bloated and more energetic – but my skin hasn’t changed

I’ve gone dairy-free for a week and feel less bloated and more energetic – but my skin hasn’t changed

I’ve gone dairy-free for a week and feel less bloated and more energetic – but my skin hasn’t changed

I grew up having a love affair with dairy products. There was none breakfast I loved how a buttered bagel fresh from the bakery (I was born in Brooklyn, where the best bagels are made) paired with a latte. And when I was out with friends, some of my favorite treats were macaroni and cheese, nachos, pizza, and butter-garlic mashed potatoes.

But over time I developed an increasing intolerance to dairy products that eventually ended Impact on my health and weight.

I knew this was coming – my mother had the same trajectory. Pizza and ice cream were among her favorite foods when she was younger, but as she got older, even using a little milk to grease the pan in which her egg-white omelet was fried gave her stomach problems.

When I hit my late 30s and noticed that a buttermilk biscuit or whipped cream was giving me a gurgling stomach and other side effects, I realized my love affair with dairy was probably coming to an end. I was still good with cheese, but products based on butter and cream were becoming more of an issue. This is common, research shows Many people develop increasing problems with lactose as they get older.

Fast forward to earlier this month: My birthday week saw me dining in style with various groups of friends, starting with a delicious dinner of buffalo mozzarella and cacio e pepe. The next day I enjoyed creamed spinach and birthday cake. It was all delicious and I don’t regret it for a second, but my body was screaming that it was time to seriously cut down on dairy. All dairy products.

So I promised to take a week off dairy. For years, I’d felt vague, bloated, and sometimes sick after weekend milk bouts—and I knew my body was being affected in other ways that I didn’t even realize. Here’s exactly how I eliminated dairy from my diet and the effects I’ve felt.

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My plan of action

Oat milk milk coffee

I didn’t intend to quit all dairy permanently. I know there are still dairy products that I can digest fairly well. But I realized that a week-long dairy elimination plan could help me pinpoint the exact reactions I was having to dairy. And by slowly reintroducing what few dairy items I thought I could still handle individually after the week was up, I could see if anything needed to be permanently left out and what could (at least for a while) remain.

I kept my diet pretty consistent and avoided dairy products.

Because I had long restricted many types of dairy products, there were certain aspects of my routine that I didn’t need to change. I’ve been using oat milk cream in my morning coffee for years. But my daily morning protein of goat cheese and spinach omelette has been replaced with plain old egg whites and spinach.

For lunch, I would typically have some variation of a mixed green salad that I would top with a protein like feta. This week I switched that out for avocado some days and air fryer salmon others. As for dinner, I leaned heavily into my love of sushi and poke bowls.

While my daily diet was honestly pretty consistent from the weeks before, the dairy element of those meals was gone. It was the ideal elimination diet in that sense.

I haven’t tried any plant-based, non-dairy substitutes.

An important part of a long-term plant-based diet is finding plant-based alternatives to these dairy products. There are some great non-dairy butters, cheeses, and milks out there. But since this wasn’t a long-term life change, but more of a week-long experiment, I didn’t want to introduce all these new items. Also, I carefully monitored my reaction to removing items from my diet, I didn’t want to confuse things by introducing new ingredients at the same time – I needed to know if any positive or negative body reactions were due to not eating dairy rather than some new things I ate instead.

While there are alternatives, many of them won’t taste as good as the “real” stuff, but sometimes they do. For example, I really like the Brown Sugar Oatmilk Creamer at Trader Joe’s – in fact, it tastes better than many “real” creamers I’ve tried.

my results

gas

gas

Well it’s a week later and I’m making my New Year’s Eve plans with a small group of friends. And yes, dairy will be involved! Giving up dairy taught me a few things about my body, which is that I’m definitely lactose intolerant to some degree, but the most shocking — and exciting — was that I can still tolerate some dairy.

I felt more energetic.

I didn’t come into this week planning to make any long-term changes unless I’ve noticed a huge difference in how my body and how I feel after the detox. But I’ve noticed some improvements. During the holiday season, with non-stop activity and eating out, I felt a bit sluggish. I feel a lot more energetic now. But I had also taken it easy over the holidays and not overexerted myself. Was it because of R&R or because of a healthier non-dairy diet that I feel this way?

I haven’t noticed a big change in my skin.

I’ve read in the past that dairy can make rosacea and other skin problems worse. I’ve had rosacea for years and was hoping that going dairy free this week would improve these skin issues – but my skin is exactly the same. Maybe I would see more of a difference if I had stopped dairy for longer. Also, it’s been incredibly cold and windy in New York this week, so it’s possible that the dry and cold air itself was a trigger, even with the milk trigger removed. In any case, the milk-related skin aspect of this experiment was fairly neutral.

I felt less bloated.

That was a big deal. After my weekend of dairy for my birthday I felt so uncomfortably bloated and bloated for days. After a week without dairy I don’t feel bloated at all. This is a sign that my body is having trouble digesting lactose, but also that eating too much of anything versus trying to control it and be healthy will make your body feel better . My body was absolutely uncomfortable with the milk, but better without it. Also, not once all week did I wake up with an upset stomach in the middle of the night after a sumptuous dinner — which, I shudder to share, had happened many times in the past.

I think we sometimes ignore intolerances, food or whatever, because we don’t want to give those things up. We know too many martinis give us a headache, but we still crave the good feeling of enjoying those martinis. I think by and large food intolerances are exactly the same. We can see what that food is doing to us, but at the same time, we enjoy experiencing those foods so much that we avoid accepting the reality that giving up those foods would benefit us.

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I was more creative in the kitchen.

Going dairy free was also an opportunity to be creative and try new ingredients in recipes. I’ve long had cans of coconut milk on hand for my curries, but when I was making tomato soup on a particularly cold Christmas Eve, I experimented with adding coconut milk to the recipe instead of cream. I discovered that it was just as creamy and delicious and lacked nothing! It was like my life was a living, breathing basket on an episode of Chopped.

I learned more about which foods contain milk components.

Milk is in a lot more things than we all realize. We may know that we shouldn’t butter our potatoes or add whipped cream to our fresh fruit, but chances are it’s hidden in many restaurant dishes that we don’t even consider. My dairy-free week forced me to ask more questions about ingredients and what was really in what I had been eating all along. Some things may surprise you – they did that for me!

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Limit my milk consumption in the future

Spinach salad with beets, beta and walnuts

Spinach salad with beets, beta and walnuts

I’m still planning feta on my salads, goat cheese in my morning omelettes, and grated parmesan on my pasta. Thankfully, cheese doesn’t seem to be a trigger for me right now. But all other dairy products are, so I no longer bend the rules for these butter- or cream-based sauces in the name of special occasions — no matter how fun or delicious they might look.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is all about moderation and I think that was the message for me. Too much dairy wasn’t good for me and my body felt sluggish and bloated as a result, but a complete detox from dairy in the long run is probably not necessary—at least not yet. In moderation, I’m okay with eating some type of dairy product. But do I have to use other types of dairy products? Or dairy at every meal? Absolutely not.

Lactose intolerance is incredibly common, but I think it’s important to remember that it’s also something that different people experience in different ways. While some cannot digest dairy at all – like my mother – some are only sensitive to certain types or large amounts of dairy. But if you’re in love with cheese and your body seems okay with it, give it a try. It’s a source of calcium, after all!

Eat this, not that

Eat this, not that

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