I Went A Week Without Dairy And This Is What I Learned

As someone who has struggled with stomach problems for a good majority of my life, I always hypothesized the issue was linked to dairy products. Ice cream, cheese, and whole milk were always foods that bothered my stomach.

When I was a baby, my parents even had to give me special formula to soothe my stomach. I was tested for lactose allergy every few years, but the results always came back negative. My doctor also told me that there is no actual test for lactose intolerance, but I probably had it. To combat this, I have started to incorporate lots of “milk alternative” foods such as almond milk, coconut milk ice cream, and even vegan cheese for the times I was really craving the taste.

What I did not realize was that simply getting rid of the obvious places that dairy crept into my diet wasn’t enough. Milk is a food weaved into the ingredient list of many commonly eaten products. Something I also often forget about is the fact that eggs count as dairy, too.

With all that being said, over a week ago I decided to transition myself to a vegan diet. I have been actively researching the diet for weeks now, and last week I decided I wanted to give it a try for both health and ethical reasons.

The first few days of cutting out dairy, I didn’t really notice a huge difference. Like I mentioned previously, my diet already does not consist of heavy dairy items. The hardest part for me was cutting out eggs, since I occasionally enjoyed scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Luckily, not many of my favorite meals consisted of dairy. Things like peanut butter toast, oatmeal, salads, crackers and hummus, and most Mexican food dishes are all dairy free. I bought dairy-free granola, chips, and even trail mix (You’d be surprised all the ingredients labels that dairy pops up in!).

My body definitely felt better without any type of heavy cream weighing it down.  I would no longer feel bloated and uncomfortable after a meal. Heading out to dinner on a Friday night was no longer easy. My roommates and I went to a burger place and they all wanted the nachos as an appetizer. Topped with cheese, beans, and salsa, I tried to avoid the cheese globs the best I could. When I got my (veggie!) burger, I made sure to order it without any type of sauce that would include milk. What I failed to think about was the potential milk in the bun.

After that meal, my stomach definitely felt fuller than it had all week, but it did not necessarily hurt the way it did when I usually leave a restaurant.

Later, I headed out for a night with my friends which, as usual, ended with someone ordering pizza. I definitely had the smallest piece ever and felt guilty immediately after.

Since that weekend, I haven’t had any dairy. I have continued eating the foods I enjoy, but I still find myself craving scrambled eggs, simply because I can’t have them.

Since the start of my dairy-cleanse, I have definitely felt lighter and not had any stomach issues. My digestion feels better and I’m not longer having stomach aches. Since I am trying to transition to a vegan lifestyle, I also have not consumed any meat. The combination of the two really seems to be helping me both internally and externally. I don’t necessarily burst out of bed with energy, but incorporating high amounts of fruits and veggies has definitely changed my mental clarity. I have lots of motivation to do things, which I did not when I was eating a more “junky” diet.

Something I notice every time I cut out dairy is how much the redness in my skin goes away. My skin always has a very red tint near and around my nose and mouth. I get occasional acne around my chin, and in the past week, the shade has definitely gone down.

While I personally think everyone can benefit from removing a lot of excess dairy from their diet, it may not be as easy for everyone as it was for me. Coming from someone who is very health and fitness based, giving up foods or find alternatives for them has never been difficult for me.

I also think that health and wellness comes from food. So if you are experiencing lethargy, illness, or simply often feeling “unwell” I recommend cutting out certain foods to pinpoint where your problems are coming from.