Ready to go dairy free? Here are my best tips to surviving (and loving) being dairy free!
I’ve been living a (mostly) dairy-free life for the past year and a half and I’m still kicking. So, if you’re new to the dairy free lifestyle – it’s not the end of the world, promise! If you want to know my backstory with dairy – check out this post. While I’m not lactose intolerant – I am lactose sensitive. My stomach feels gross and bloated when I eat any dairy so I try to avoid it as much as possible. I do, however, live a cheese-free life. *tear*. It makes me break out in horrible cystic acne, so I avoid it at all costs. Now that you know my backstory, I’m here to share 5 tips on dairy-free beginners. If you’re been dairy free for a while, you may want to read this as a little refresher on why it’s so important to keep up dairy free lifestyle. Enjoy!
What The F Is Dairy & Why Am I Intolerant?
A quick reminder – dairy is any product that contains or is made from milk. Dairy contains lactose, which our body breaks down and digests using an enzyme called lactase. However, as we grow older, our ability to produce lactase diminishes and therefore leaves our stomach struggling to break it down. There are different levels of dairy intolerance – from an allergy resulting in anaphylaxis (when your throat closes up) – to a subtle intolerance resulting in bloating. Wherever you land on the spectrum, living dairy free will make your body feel best.
Tips For Dairy Free Beginners:
1. Oat Milk, Almond Milk and Soy Milk Are Your BFFS
I am a cup (or two!) coffee kind of gal. For goodness sake, I work from coffee shops most of the time! At first, I felt discouraged learning just how much dairy is in all of my favorite Starbucks drinks. And then I discovered almond milk and oat milk. Thank you Jesus! If you’re not a fan soy and almond milk are great alternatives! Side note: nuts are a great snack when you’re dairy free. For more information, check out this article on the healthiest nuts to eat.
2. Join A Cheese Addict Anon Group
Cheese, Please? (No). I’m not going to lie to you. The hardest part of this process is a lack of cheese in my life. I have a cheese-shaped whole in my heart. My cousin Ashley and I have regular conversations about how cheese is one of the finer things in life. So it was heartbreaking to give up. I couldn’t believe how many dishes have cheese! When I realized how much cheese I was consuming I was bewildered. It was a wonder I didn’t turn into a ball of cheese. Okay but seriously, I can promise you it does get easier saying NO! to cheese. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy the pain and discomfort that comes along with eating cheese just isn’t worth it. Remember, your overall health should come before the temporary (and oh so magical) taste of cheese. And if you just can’t deal – vegan cheese is a real thing. The majority of vegan cheeses I’ve tried are downright offensive to the traditional cheese family, however – cashew cheese it surprisingly delicious! I first tried it at Pure Kitchen in Ottawa, Canada. They serve it on hamburgers and…wait for it….. poutine. I had been craving poutine for months (if you’re a non-Canadian, Google it. Looks disgusting but tastes magical) so I tried their cashew cheese poutine and I swear it tastes almost exactly like traditional poutine, if not better. If you’re dairy-free and in Ottawa, Pure Kitchen is a must try! So, if you’re craving cheese.. vegan cheese is available to you.
3. Force Yourself to Learn How To Cook
If my mom is reading this she is sure to have a smirk on her face. Hi mom! She (like everyone else in my life) laughs at the thought of me cooking…well anything. I grew up in a household where my dad cooked healthy meals for us every night. Then I dated men who cooked for me (#queen). Then I…bought pre-made meals/ prepared the laziest meals you can imagine. Well, at 28 it’s about time I learn how to cook, I suppose. I’ve been learning/becoming accustomed to making healthy, dairy free meals at home. My favorite is salmon with vegetables and potatoes (hold the butter, cheese & sour cream). I’m also slowly getting the hang of this miracle worker that is the crockpot. Y’all invest in a crock pot if you haven’t already! You cut up a bunch of veggies, throw in some meat and it does all the hard work for you! Now that’s my kind of cooking. Lord, please bless me with a husband that cooks!
4. Track Your Progress
Eating dairy free can be totally frustrating at times. I find it most difficult when browsing through a menu when eating out. For this reason, the first month I took weekly photos of my skin to see a physical change. While I don’t believe in scales…you can also weigh yourself and see a couple pounds shed off. Buttoning up my jeans with room to spare always puts a smile on my face. You can also keep a diary of how your stomach is feeling after every meal. If you feel less bloated, or get sick less often after meals that is a sign this is working! And that is huge. It is our job to take care of our bodies. Listen to your body. Act accordingly.
5. Know You’re Not Alone!
Did you know approximately 65% of humans reduce their ability to break down lactose after infancy? As we reach adulthood, many of us reduce the production of lactase needed to break down lactose, a sugar found in dairy. This results in lactose intolerant giving us lots of not so pretty side effects (bloating, gas, abdominal pain, acne, nausea etc). Which makes me wonder why dairy is even offered in the majority of dishes these days. But, you’re not alone in this frustrating struggle.
Don’t forget to check out this post explaining why I dropped dairy in the first place.