So why no dairy?
I’ve gotten this question a lot in the past month since I eliminated dairy from my diet. There are a lot of good reasons to do so: clear skin, healthier digestion, weight loss, stronger bones, and the most important for me; preventing dairy allergy reactions.
To give you some background, I’ve suffered from allergies for years (the congested, runny nose, watery eyes kind of allergies) off and on. I’ve always blamed it on cottonwood, dusts, and molds, and take allergy medicine every day during the times of the year those allergens are high. I even have nose spray to help combat the (only) allergies I thought I had. Each year they’ve gotten worse. This year, I’ve taken allergy medicine every day from the spring all the way until September. I hate taking medicine; so needless to say, popping allergy meds daily gets old quick. I also wasn’t excited about the mid-morning stomach-ache I kept experiencing every day I ate yogurt for breakfast.
I already don’t do gluten because of a previously diagnosed allergy, and since it’s common for gluten and dairy allergies to go hand-in-hand, I started doing some research to see what the symptoms of a dairy allergy even are. Turns out there are three outlets the body uses to react to a dairy allergy:
-The skin (red rash, hives, or swelling of the lips, mouth, face, etc.)
-The digestive tract (abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, etc.)
-The respiratory system (runny nose, congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, etc.)
That’s all I needed to read. I decided the following day would be my first day sans all dairy. Within the first two days I noticed a huge difference and continue to feel so much better. I wake up with none of the congestion I was previously experiencing. The headaches, sneezing, and watery eyes are gone and so is my need for allergy medicine. (Yay!)
So what do I use to replace dairy? Well, I use almond milk in my oatmeal & smoothies. I eat coconut milk ice cream when I want a treat. For cheese, I really like Daiya brand mozzarella-style shreds. Nutritional yeast is a big pantry staple too. I also make my own cashew cheese and cashew parmesan (recipes coming soon for both of those!) I use ghee instead of normal butter, which is actually just butter with the milk solids removed, so it doesn’t have casein (a milk protein) or lactose (a milk sugar) both of which are difficult for people with a dairy allergy to digest. With the minimally processed, gluten-free diet I already eat, I read the labels of any packaged food I do eat and make sure it’s free of dairy. Since dairy is a common allergen, it will be listed in bold at the bottom of the ingredients too, just in case label-reading isn’t your thing.
So where does that leave me? Am I anti-dairy? Not at all! Even though I’ve seen a huge difference in the way I feel myself, every person is different. Some people get along fine with dairy, others (like me) don’t. That’s okay. It’s important to always do what works best for you. However, I do think it’s important to get organic, minimally processed dairy if it’s a staple in your diet.
What’s your experience with dairy? I want to hear your thoughts!