Growing up, I used to drink milk on a regular basis; in the morning with breakfast, at school during lunch, and in the evening before bed. Cheese was another staple in my diet. I put cheese on everything; provolone in my sandwich, parmesan on top of my pasta, and let’s not forget the cheddar sprinkled all over my tacos! Little did I know, this dairy addiction was affecting me in a big way.
I have never labeled myself as “athletic.” In fact, I’ve always felt quite the opposite… unfit. P.E. was my least favorite class and often times, I had a note from a parent requesting that I sit out because of stomach aches. If I did participate, I used an inhaler prior to the class because of my “sports asthma.” I dreaded the two times of the year that we had to run the horrific mile. I would make myself sick with worry, knowing I didn’t have the stamina for it. I was ashamed as I took breaks to walk, while my fellow classmates lapped me on the track. Luckily, P.E. was not required beyond freshman year of high school, so I was able to quickly escape the embarrassment.
It wasn’t until my college years that I started taking a look at my diet. I had quickly put on the freshman 15 (or 20) and my energy levels had become so low that I remember having to take naps on a regular basis and still never feeling alert. Brain fog was a constant companion, alongside its best friend, upset stomach. I knew something wasn’t right, and made an appointment with a integrative health practitioner to try and get some answers. I was diagnosed with a thyroid disease and discovered I had several food allergies. This was the turning point in my life when I started taking action and putting my health first.
Ever since, I have had a love affair with health and wellness. I cleaned up my diet by removing processed foods and adding more fruits and veggies. Eventually, I became vegetarian, and finally gave up dairy. I switched my organic 2% milk to almond milk. It is not a difficult switch! I loved the creamy, nutty flavor of the almond milk. I stopped buying cheese and switched over from milk chocolate to dairy-free, dark chocolate.
With these changes, my seasonal allergies had gone away and I no longer needed an inhaler. I went on to challenge myself physically by training for a 10k. I became obsessed with working out. From personal training, to taking spin and yoga classes, I was on an exercise high. It was such an incredible shift from thinking, “there’s NO way I can run around this block,” to “sure, I’ll try rock climbing this afternoon!” The reason I was able to make such a drastic switch, was because of my diet, and most importantly, eliminating dairy.
Dairy has been linked to all kinds of health problems. Almost 75% of the world’s population is unable to properly digest dairy. Think about it like this- cow’s milk is created to help fuel and grow baby calves, not humans. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, 1 glass of milk can spike your insulin levels by 300%. Sugar causes acne, meaning, the insulin in dairy is also a big culprit in breakouts. Additionally, dairy is very acidic. Diseases love acidic environments. Dairy, also, causes mucus and inflammation. (Gross!) A couple nights ago, I was at a spa night and the hostess had a very tempting cheese plate sitting out. I figured, “why not?” By the end of the night, I was so congested that people started to notice my sniffles. Lesson learned- cheese is good, but not THAT good. Besides, there are so many delicious alternatives to dairy that once you eliminate it, you won’t even miss it!
Below is a list of some of my favorite dairy alternative products:
Bali Inspired Smoothie: