For many people, dairy is a major source of digestive upset and other GI-related problems and symptoms, yet it seems to be in so many foods and beverages.
Luckily, there are a wide variety of dairy alternatives available nowadays that can make cutting it out easier than ever before. For example, many dairy alternatives are made of cashews.
Are cashews healthy for you? The answer is yes. They’re low in sugar and high in antioxidants and fiber, as well as good fat that helps your body function optimally without the irritation of dairy.
Aside from cashews, other dairy alternatives include things like oat milk and almond milk.
With that in mind, the following are things to know about why you should cut dairy out and how to do it.
Reasons to Eliminate Dairy
Many people feel that cutting dairy out of their diet made a tremendous impact on how they feel every day. For example, you might feel more energetic, have better digestion and you may have reduced pain and inflammation all from avoiding dairy.
When you stop eating dairy, you might notice bloating is eliminated as well as general stomach pain and gas. Your stomach can struggle to break down lactose, even if you aren’t technically lactose intolerant, and when that happens, it leads to the buildup of gas and acid in your intestines.
If you eliminate dairy, you might have more normal bathroom experiences and you may lose weight because lactose contains sugar.
There’s research that shows dairy consumption is also potentially related to an increased risk of developing acne and other skin-related issues like rashes and eczema.
Some research even shows that dairy can increase the risk of certain kinds of cancer, such as prostate cancer. Dairy consumption increases your level of insulin-like-growth factor or IGF-1, which is considered a promoter of cancer.
With those things in mind, the following are some tips to cut dairy out.
Define Your Whys
Anytime you want to make a major change in how you eat, you should define why you’re doing it. You might even write them down because this can be your motivation when you’re tempted to not follow through.
If you need a reminder at any time, refer back to your list of whys.
Make a List of What You Can’t Have and What You Can
There is dairy in so much of what we eat, and it can be a challenge to keep up and remember. To make it easy on yourself print out a list of what you can’t have when you’re dairy-free and another list of some of the best substitutes that you can have.
You might want a version of your lists at home where you can tape it up in your kitchen, as well as a smaller version to take with you.
For example, if you’re committed to not eating dairy, then you can’t have things like baked goods because they are usually made with milk. If you want to eliminate all lactose, that means you can’t have ghee, kefir, dry milk, or milk by-products either.
Make Sure You’re Getting All Your Nutrients
Dairy products do provide some nutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, and protein. If you’re used to consuming a lot of dairy, then you should have a plan to make sure you’re still getting these nutrients.
Dark leafy vegetables and fatty fish are good sources of calcium without dairy. Some types of plant-based milk are fortified with vitamin D and calcium. You may also want to increase your healthy protein intake.
Other foods that can provide some of the same nutrients as dairy are broccoli, tofu, seeds and nuts, and beans.
Anytime you cut out an entire food group from your diet, eating out becomes more challenging.
When you’re just starting, you might want to prepare your meals at home so that you can be sure of what’s going into everything.
When you’re at a restaurant, you need to let your waiter know that you aren’t eating dairy and ask what their suggestions are. A lot of restaurant employees are used to dealing with dietary restrictions and they can have creative ideas for ways you can tweak menu items to make them work for you.
If you aren’t sure about whether or not something has dairy, ask and also ask about the process of making it.
Finally, start slow if you need to. Cut out just a few items at first, and then go from there as you get more acclimated with a dairy-free diet.