Friday, 1 May 2015

Waving Goodbye to Dairy


It's becoming a regular occurrence seeing people say they're giving up dairy for x, y and z reasons. Lots of healthy lifestyle writers have been showing off dairy free recipes and explaining the importance of cutting out dairy, and it's almost impossible not to scroll through Pinterest without finding a delicious looking dairy free cake or dairy free milkshake. It's been well over two years now since I purchased my last pint of milk and begun my journey to wean myself off a pretty dairy heavy diet. In all honesty, I feel ten gazillion times better for it, and don't have any cravings for dairy products. Plus, it's much simpler and easier than those of your who may enjoy consuming dairy products, would think. 

So, if you're thinking about waving goodbye to dairy, or you're already dairy free and just want to add more fuel to the fire when people question your decision, here are some reasons why it's so important to do so.

Calciums nutrients are actually found in other food sources
When you think about the nutritional benefits of eating dairy, you probably think back to when you were at pre-school and would have a carton of milk as an afternoon snack. Or you'd think back to adverts for children's yoghurts promising to help 'make bones go stronger-er'. We've all grown up believing dairy = calcium, therefore we must consume plenty of it. As a matter of fact, you can find calcium in so many sources of food, and more plentiful too.  Kale is the ultimate health food for many, but in all honesty, pack plenty of it into your diet because it has so many nutrients, especially calcium. Other leafy green vegetables have plenty of calcium too, as do legumes and nuts. Almonds in particular are packed with calcium - no wonder almond milk makes a fantastic, nutritional alternative to cow's milk.

The truth about dairy production
After my chat with Beyond the Kale, we were talking about the way cows are produced and how they're always producing milk. We spoke about the fact that actually, in order to produce milk, cows are being constantly made pregnant. It's something I've never really thought about before but it's so true, and so disturbing. These cows are almost always producing milk, all the while being fed hormones in order to up the production and ensure they can get pregnant when the farmers need to. I don't know about you but in terms of the welfare, that just doesn't sit right with me. If you're going to consume dairy, it should be encouraged that you go for Organic options. This way, you'll know that the cow wasn't pumped full of hormones in the first place that you will end up digesting from the milk.

Humans don't digest dairy well
In fact, humans don't even need cow's milk. Often as babies we're weaned off human breast milk with regular cow's milk because it's similar and easily accessible. Then we start adding it to cereals, cakes, tea and coffee and it ends up being part of our everyday diet. Cow milk's structure is actually very different to human breast milk, and the closest thing that's similar is goat's milk. There are so many dairy free alternatives out there now, mainly nut milks (always go unsweetened if it's shop bought), and oat milk too. Plus it's incredibly easy to make too. I'm lucky that I can now get almond milk coffee's at one of my favourite coffee shops where I live (and incidentally, where I'm writing this now!). Several people are lactose intolerant, which is due to the sugars in cow's milk. There are simply so many issues with drinking cow's milk, more than you'd even realise.

Hormone issue
You know me, I can't resist bringing hormones up! Due to the amount of hormones that go into the production of milk (as I already mentioned, with cows constantly being pregnant), those hormones can wreck havoc upon your own body and hormone production. You end up ingesting these unwanted hormones into your body which can then affect the way your hormones are running in your body. Several dermatologists suggest that those with acne or acne-prone skin should avoid dairy simply for this reason.

Dairy-free alternatives and where to get your calcium
Nut milks are one of those clever little inventions that have made a huge impact upon those who are dairy free or particularly dairy intolerant. You can add nut milks to porridge, smoothies, healthier sweet treats, pancakes, tea and coffee, or to make your own dairy free version of hot chocolate. Although they can seem pretty pricey for a standard litre bottle, by going dairy-free you'll discover you don't actually need so much 'milk' in your diet anyway as you'll stop craving the foods that contained a high dairy percentage. Plus, you can make your own at home very easily. If you're a cheese lover, you can still have cheese but preferably very good quality or, try 'fresh' cheese such as Feta or Mozzarella. Those are the tastier cheeses anyway, right?
Calcium is in so many foods, such as left green vegetables which are also high in many other nutrients and protein; nuts (in particular almonds); citrus fruits; carrots; sesame seeds (try Tahini which is sesame spread and a great addition to dishes, can be used to make salad dressing or to simply dip crudités into); and chia seeds.

Say no to soy
Soy milk was thought to be the healthier alternative to cow's milk for years, and still can be seen as an alternative on the menu to many coffee shops. The day soy milk is eradicated from coffee shop menus, I'll be incredibly happy! Instead, soy has caused much concern over the past few years. It can be detrimental for fertility - research has found the more soy milk a man consumes, the less chance he as to fertilise an egg.... Scary. It can also our ability to absorb certain nutrients, plus can affect thyroid function. Not only that but due to its unpleasant taste, it is incredibly high processed and sweetened to masque the taste. That 'skinny' soy milk caramel latte doesn't sound quite so great now, does it?

One step at a time
Of course, it can't be expected for anyone to be able to give up something their body has become so adapted to for their whole life. The best thing to do is take it at one step at a time. If you want to go the full shebang and say goodbye to all dairy, start by limiting milk to only a dash in your tea/coffee once or twice a week and the rest of the week try almond milk instead. Cut down on the portion sizes before you completely go cold turkey. Play around with different alternatives such as different nut milks to see which suits you best. My personal favourites are Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk and Alpro's Hazelnut Milk (liquidised Nutella, I swear).

Are you 'dairy free'? Or have you ever thought about reducing the amount of dairy in your diet? What are your favourite dairy free alternatives? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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12 comments

  1. I've been a vegetarian for almost 11 years (I don't eat meat/fish but I do eat dairy) but I am trying to cut down my dairy intake although I won't want to cut it out completely but that's just my preference x

    Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness x

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    1. I think it's totally fine (and realistic) to simply cut down on dairy - I'd be the first to put my hand up to allowing myself a chocolate pudding and ice cream on occasion, both loaded with dairy! Unless you have a serious intolerance to dairy, then of course that's when you'd have to look at cutting it out completely. Do whatever suits you :)

      xx

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  2. I think you may have half convinced me to try and cut diary out of my diet - it's just such a massive lifestyle change and I am obliged to a bowl of cereal each morning!

    The Velvet Black // UK Style & Beauty Blog

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    1. Reducing dairy in our diets is actually much simpler than you'd realise. Try almond or hazelnut milk, they both work really well as a replacement :)

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  3. Being dairy free is such an amazing lifestyle! I've done it in the past but I find that being 90% vegan and still allowing that 10% hasn't left me too deprived. Lovely article! :)

    G.J - A Personal Style, Beauty & Lifestyle blog.

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    1. Amazing! I think you definitely should leave a small percentage of your diet open to having things like dairy/foods or drink that are better when in moderation. It sounds like you've struck a great balance!

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  4. I am in a funny place with dairy, it might sound strange, but with me breast feeding Finley, the idea of cows feeding their young and their young being taken away from them is just horrid. So it's a bit of an ethical thing for me, but yet I'm still eating it because for Finley, it's a really important source of calories in his diet right now. Tough call! I do love diary free alternatives like almond milk and coconut yoghurt though :-)

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    1. You've raised a really good point there actually, and I definitely think that in those circumstances, it's most likely during those relatively short-ish term periods, you do just have to throw out a 'dairy-free' mindset, or whatever it may be, and just do what you have to do.
      If you can go for the better quality products, great, but if not then that's not the end of the world.
      I'm personally not 100% dairy free - I'd say I'm about 80%. Sometimes Total Greek Yoghurt calls my name, or ice cream! It most definitely is a tough topic!

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  5. i'm so on board with this, especially the part about considering the welfare of the cows. it may sound strange but after i had a child and developed a breastfeeding relationship, i started to think about all milk production differently. it really is brutal to co-opt that biological function solely for human food. if it's ethically raised then maybe, but the way we do it is just so awful.

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  6. I'm not 100% dairy free but I do try to avoid cows milk for the main reason that I dislike the taste! I suffered from exzema as a child and dairy can be a trigger so I've been wary of it for a long time - it's so much easier to get alternatives these days, as a child soy milk was only sold in specialist healthful shops but there are so many options now - almond milk is my favourite and I wish more coffee shops would do almond milk lattes, so much nicer than soy! x

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  7. I'm not dairyfree, because I'm weak :( I know a lot about the advantages of going dairyfree and I always try to eat as little as possible. I found almond, coconut and cashew milk much-much tastier than "real" milk, I have always disliked yoghurts but cheese is my weakest point. Once in a while I eat cheese. Every second or third weak or something like that. I feel much better without dairy products my skin is better I don't have any stomach problems, so everything is much better but I can't skip cheese from time to time (but I eat very little so I don't feel any bad effects, however, I know that they are not the best on the long term). I prefer goat cheese now, because I think they are healthier. But perhaps I'm just naive when I think that goats don't get that much of the hormones and antibiotics as cows, the producers of mainstream dairy products. Am I really naive, what do you think?

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  8. I'm not a vegetarian but I don't really consume much dairy, mainly because it seemed to make my skin flare up and make me bloated so I use soy milk but I'm on board with the going organic! :)
    https://cherieedle.blogspot.com/

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