I’ve long been a fan of what I call the “Real Food Diet,” where I happily eat from all food groups with an emphasis on sustainable and organic foods. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of entirely cutting out a food group from my diet. But recently I have had enough of an inspiration to try to move away from traditional dairy products.
I don’t believe I am lactose intolerant, though the condition is extremely common in Jewish people of Eastern European decent. However, I suffer from serious congestion due to allergies, and those symptoms have evolved into unbearable sinus and ear infections during this pregnancy. My very traditional ENT suggested I cut out dairy. My acupuncturist suggested I cut out dairy. My friends in holistic health suggested I cut out dairy. I figured it was worth a try.
The vegan community and the Paleo community agree on almost nothing and actually look upon each other’s diets with some animosity. But they both do not eat dairy. There must be something to this.
Some of the reasons why dairy is considered “bad” by many people include its links to allergies, sinus congestion, ear infections, and irritable bowel syndrome. There is also evidence to show that it is not the great source of calcium and bone health that it is tauted to be in all those milk commercials.
I’ve avoided dairy about 90% over the past week and I definitely feel less congested. This may simply be coincidence – the weather has been beautiful and I am on yet another dose of antibiotics this week – but it’s certainly worth keeping up to see if I continue to feel good!
The easiest changes so far has been with actual milk. I swapped out the usual skim milk in my morning oatmeal with either almond milk or coconut milk and both are delicious. I am also a sucker for Starbucks skim lattes and have found that the soy version tastes even better! Butter has also been no problem to replace with Earth Balance spread.
For snacks I binge on vegan cookies and homemade ice pops with coconut milk, pineapple, and bananas.
The hardest switch has been cheese. I tried the Daiya mozzarella substitute but found it seriously lacking. Friends have recommended rice cheese, almond cheese, nutritional yeast which I will add to my shopping lists and try out in hopes of some improvement.
I certainly won’t be following this new lifestyle 100%. I will definitely go out for the occasional ice cream cone and order lasagna in a restaurant. And I am still giving whole milk and cheese sticks to my three-year-old on a daily basis. But, as with most things, I think a healthy dose of moderation in my daily lifestyle could go a long way.
Have you cut out dairy? Why? And what are your best tips for non dairy substitutes?
NOTE: Thanks to Stephanie at Good Girl Gone Green for bringing to my attention the danger of Carrageenan in many soy, almond, and coconut milk products. I went through my fridge and did find it listed on my coconut milk. I found this handy guide which lists the brands and products which do and do not contain carrageenan.