Why going dairy-free was the best decision I ever made!

Hi friends!

If you don’t already know, I have an allergy to cow dairy not an intolerance.  What’s the difference? Well…

Many people are lactose intolerant, which means that they do not have enough of the enzyme “lactase”, which is needed to break down “lactose”, which is the sugar in milk and milk derivatives.  Baby’s bodies produce this so that they are able to digest their mother’s milk but as we get older, this enzyme slows or stops producing resulting in digestion issues. In contrast, I have a dairy allergy which is a true food allergy to the protein found in milk, being whey and casein.  Therefore, I can’t have products that are labelled lactose-free, compared to someone who is only lactose-intolerant and would be able to digest the rest of the dairy product with the lactose removed.

Now that we know the difference, here’s some background about my allergy:

When I was growing up, I’d be sick all the time with one thing or another.  My immune system was so weak that it felt like there was always something wrong with me.  I also had asthma so being sick made that worse and it was just one big bad circle of events. For example, if I had a cold, by having a cup of milk, it would make me flem-galore (graphic, I know!) but I never realized how dairy was affecting me back then!  I didn’t know anything was wrong until my early 20s when I finally started paying attention to my body. I love that more and more people are paying attention to the food intolerances they may have! I know I want to be the BEST version of myself, which consists of being healthy, having energy and aiding my body in proper digestion and you should too.  I’m not saying that you should take dairy out of your diet but if you think you might have an allergy, intolerance or are thinking of quitting dairy too, keep reading…

In my early 20s I would always complain about being nauseous, stomach aches, gas, feeling sluggish etc. to my family. I never realized that dairy was the cause of my discomfort until I went to see my Naturopath. SERIOUSLY, the BEST decision I ever made.  If you’re in the Vancouver area, contact me for her details.  She’s amazing! Anyways, I guess the reason I put it off for so long was because every single person I knew who went to one, came home with 10 things to cut out of their diet. I was like nope I can’t do that, I’ll die without ice cream!!  I was young, I didn’t care, I just wanted to enjoy that dang cheesecake okay…

I went in with an open mind and decided I would adopt her recommendations and see how I felt.  So at my visit, she tested me for a bunch of food types and surprise surprise, I was allergic to dairy (along with other nature-related allergens).  She gave me probiotics and told me to cut out dairy for a set period of time.  You guys…all the things I wanted to eat immediately flashed in front of my eyes so naturally I went home, took a week, ate everything I’d miss during my dairy detox . I then started a little memo in my phone and would write down how I felt each day so I could look back on it and remember the details.  I noted, bloat, bowel movement changes, energy levels etc.  At the end of the detox, she asked me to reintroduce items to my diet one by one to see what affected me or what I could eat.  For example, a lot of people are okay with yogurt.  Well, given that I have an allergy…I felt sick within 5 minutes of consuming a bit of yogurt and right then I decided I was done.  When you are constantly consuming these products, the affect on your body is less or feels like less because you feel that way 24/7.  When you do a detox and then within 5 minutes feel gross…at that point I knew I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.  Since then I have cut out dairy 99.9% out of my diet.  It’s still hard being at restaurants sometimes or when you cave in and eat a doughnut but you do end up regretting it pretty quickly… As time goes on, it does get easier for sure and you find alternatives to the things you used to enjoy.  Remember though, if you do this, you may be able to reintroduce foods and be okay with some and not okay with others.  I’m just extra lucky that I can’t have any product 😉 .

If you want to quit dairy for a specific period of time or indefinitely, here’s what I learned during my mini dairy detox:

  1. Read Ingredients – Dairy is in EVERYTHING, like things I would have never checked the ingredients for (a lot of chips, crackers, margarine?? – I thought that stuff was plastic!, pre-made sauces, non-creamy soups etc.).
  2. Know the Alternatives – There are so many alternatives these days.  Some of my favourite ones are: So Delicious cashew ice cream (YUM!), Daiya cheeses made from tapioca, Earth Balance butter (SO good!), various milk alternatives etc.
  3. Reduced Bloat – I was bloated and I didn’t even know it. This wasn’t my goal but I lost probably a good 2-3 pounds directly from my stomach without changing anything else in my diet or exercise plan.  I didn’t realize I was even bloated before I started because my stomach was so unhappy with me that I was ALWAYS bloated!!
  4. Reduced Gas – Gas was reduced significantly to the point where I was like WOW, I can’t believe THAT was my normal.  I was walking through life with a foggy mirror not realizing that I didn’t have to keep feeling that way. Sorry friends, I’m better now though 🙂 .
  5. Clearer Skin – I still get acne as part of monthly hormones but it has been significantly reduced.

My tips if you want to go dairy free:

  1. Start reading ingredients now and replacing items in your home before cutting it out completely. Milk for almond, rice, soy or cashew milk. Butter for Earth Balance – this stuff is amazing!! Etc.
  2. Pay attention when eating out. Ask for ingredients, be informed.  If a server is annoyed, they don’t deserve your business.  Generally, anything that is in a creamy sauce is a big no no.  A lot of restaurants list allergen information online so take a peek ahead of time to save yourself some grief.
  3. Make a mini commitment to yourself.  So you’re not ready to do a complete overhaul? That’s okay! Commit to it for 30 days and if at the end of the 30 days, you start to introduce dairy in and you’re okay or want to keep having dairy anyways and realize this isn’t for you, then by all means, you do you but I wanted to share my experience for others who may need it.

Common FAQs:

How will I get calcium

There are lots of ways to get your calcium, leafy greens, almonds, broccoli, non-dairy yogurt etc.  For example:

1 cup of cooked kale = approx. 245 mg of calcium
1 cup of milk = approx. 300 mg of calcium

Is it hard to cut it out

Yes, it is hard but it’s harder to feel like poop all the time… you decide.  Knowledge is power. These days there are SO many alternatives that I almost don’t miss dairy at all.  I think pizza was my biggest issue but now that some local joints are carrying Daiya.  The world is catching on people!! Start replacing items slowly.  You don’t need to go dairy-free overnight.

Can I have goat/sheeps milk

Maybe you can. If you’re going to detox though, I’d cut all animal-based milks and derivatives like cheese/yogurt out. However, my body is okay with goat and sheep’s milk. They are different animals and thus have different enzymes.  Try it and see how you feel.  I love my sheep’s milk yogurt from whole foods ♥. Best consistency but takes some time to get used to.

Goat/sheep milk is stinky

Yes, it is when you first have it but now that those are the only products I have, I don’t taste the difference! I accidentally had some cow-dairy and THAT was stinky to me.  Your taste buds evolve over time so don’t worry.  Ps. Goat milk is more salty than sheep’s milk but I find sheep’s milk is harder to find in stores.

Have more questions for me?  Feel free to comment below or via email! I hope this post has helped you if you were thinking about your intolerance or want to go dairy free for other reasons.




The information contained in this blog is not intended to be construed in any manner as medical advice.  The foregoing is my opinion and what has worked for me.  All diet decisions should be made with the approval of your health care provider.

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