Food is something which is a very personal thing to each and everyone. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions on food choices based on their culture and background.
However, with the rising awareness around food and food habits, one can’t deny the benefits of eating right and eating healthy and the effect of certain food groups on our body.
I was born in a vegetarian family in India, and have been a vegetarian almost my entire life, barring a few times in my childhood where I did try to eat meat. Whether you eat meat or not isn’t the topic of this post, since any discussion about it, requires an in-detail analysis, which I shall save for another time.
In this blog post, I shall be speaking of why I cut down dairy and dairy products (and essentially turned a vegan). Irrespective of whether you eat meat or not, this topic about dairy is a must read.
Today I will share with you my journey on why I quit consuming dairy and dairy products.
Since last two years, I was having health issues. Stomach bloating, digestion issues, etc. I had never really thought about the correlation between dairy and health issues. However, as the symptoms I faced increased, I realised it was time to make some lifestyle changes.
Soon, I started noticing that post consuming any dairy product, especially milk, my symptoms increased. That’s when I realised I had lactose intolerance.
Did you know, that 70% of human adults suffer from mild lactose intolerance? The human body, doesn’t really need milk after the baby grows up.
If you don’t believe me, think about this- The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase — the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five.
We are mammmals and for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned. That’s why you will see the young ones of mammals like cats, dogs, etc need milk only for a certain period before they wean off.
Our bodies just weren’t made to digest milk on a regular basis. Humans are the only species who drink the milk of another species well into adulthood.
Lactose intolerance can cause stomach pain and bloating, diarrhoea, muscle and joint pain, cramps, at times constipation, headaches, acne, rash and eczema. The symptoms vary from person to person and I was experiencing a few of these.
Thus, the more I researched on the topic, the more I realized that dairy is not benefical for me and thus, the process of eliminating dairy from my diet began.
It was a tough but much needed decision.
If you too are facing some of the above mentioned issues, it’s time to try and eliminate dairy from my diet.
Now, like most of us, dairy was an important part of my life too. Especially when it came to having my Chai. Through all my college days, my crazy job changes and hectic work schedules, some where tea and coffee became a much needed part of my life. It was hard to imagine my life without my Chai with milk or Coffee with milk.
So, I did a lot of research and experimented with recipes and came up with my own substitution for milk in my daily chai and coffee cups. Also, I cut down and limited my intake of these two most loved beverages. (My husband would disagree though. He still considers me a big time chai addict. Which I cannot deny 😀 )
Once I replaced the milk part, I was ready to cut out dairy from my diet. I was never really a big fan of too much cheese, nor did I like butter or ghee in my diet. Replacing milk was my single-most and biggest challenge.
I decided to observe whether I was feeling any different after eliminating dairy from my diet.
I noticed the following changes in 3-4 days of no dairy consumption-
- No more stomach bloat
- Improved digestion
- No sluggishness. Felt fresh and more active throughout the day
- No more leg cramps (which I never thought I was having due to dairy. Leg cramps reduced by 90%)
- Mental alertness level increased.
- Felt light from within.
- Made my skin clearer and better.
Overall, cutting dairy out completely from my diet, boosted my confidence, helped solve my digestion issues.
If you are someone who has been facing the issues I did, do try to cut down your dairy intake and observe if you feel a difference. Of course, do take advice from your doctor or nutritionist if you aren’t sure.
You can replace your normal milk in beverages with oat milk, coconut milk and soy milk. If feel coconut milk works best with coffee and soy milk and coconut milk both go well with Chai or regular English Tea.
You can opt for no- dairy cheese instead of the normal one. Lots of options available to replace your dairy cravings. You can do your own research and see what’s available in your locality.
If you are worried about losing your calcium intake, I understan. You can always replace the source of your calcium. Did you know seasame seeds, kale. amaranth, etc have high levels of calcium?
1 glass of milk will give you 250 mg of calcium whereas just 3 tablespoons of seasame seeds integrated into your food will give you 265 mg of calcium.
There are tonnes of articles out there, where you can find lots of nom-dairy calcium sources. So worry not!
Also, it cannot be ignored that the dairy industry is cruel to animals as well. Just for that one glass of milk, a cow gets torturted. A glass of milk that you do not need anyway. A glass of milk which is probably adulterated with chemicals and contains harmful hormones injected in the cows body to make her lactate. All of this is not good for your body or the cow’s.
Thus, I would encourage all of you who read this to try and elimate dairy.
Remember, dairy is not really a necessity for good health. I encourage you to go dairy-free and see what it happens.
I’d also like to hear from all of you …
Do you agree or disagree that dairy is bad for you?
Have you faced any issues while consuming dairy?
What changes – for better or worse, have you experienced if you’ve tried eliminating dairy?
Would you like to go dairy-free for a month just as an experiment and see what it does to your body? I strongly encourage you to do that. However, no where am I suggesting that you stop consuming other healthy food groups that have been a part of your diet.