I have been on and off dairy free for the last 3 years. My current stint of being dairy free is approximately 3 months and counting (minus 1 day because it was my mum’s birthday and i allowed myself a piece of cake which consisted of dairy products).
I went dairy free, initially, in 2017 when i was in my 2nd year of University. I did a healthcare based course which meant doing placements. This consisted of shift work which i had never done before. Unfortunately, over a period of time this started to affect my bowels and i started to have cramps and really erratic bowel movements (to put it nicely). Essentially, i was having IBS type symptoms which is very common amongst shift workers. It took me a while to eventually figure out that dairy (in all forms) was exacerbating these symptoms massively, so i cut it out. Prior to this, i could eat a whole bucket of dairy based products with ease, no problemo and now suddenly i was lactose intolerant. It was a big change.
It isn’t hugely suprising i have developed an intolerance to dairy. In the UK, Asians and Afro-Caribbean people are commonly known to have intolerances to lactose. I’m South Asian. As i discovered my intolerance, funnily enough, lots of my friends who were also either Black or Asian, started to find that eating dairy would make them feel terrible. At least we were in it together, eh?
Anyway, when i first cut out dairy i noticed changes within a couple of weeks. Just to clarify, when i say cut out, i don’t just mean milk and cheese. I mean the whole shabang: pastries, dairy based biscuits, cakes and even crisps with whey powder were ALL off bounds because that is how sensitive my bowels became.
I noticed i felt a lot less bloated. I began to lose weight despite the fact i was doing no exercise. My bowels became more regular and normal. Overall, i just felt so much better. This was probably partly because i was snacking a lot less due to lack of dairy free munchies in my household, as everyone else in my family eat dairy. Any snacks i did have were dairy-free.
Throughout the last few years, i’ve had multiple “relapses” for varying periods of time where i went back to eating dairy. During these “relapses” i would gain a lot of weight, i’d feel bloated and, of course, my bowels were constantly causing me issues. I’d eat a lot more junk food as i wasn’t keeping an eye on my food intake, whereas when i avoided dairy i became far more aware of what i was putting into my body which led to less over-eating and over-indulging.
As mentioned at the start, i am currently dairy-free and have been for the last few months. I’ve lost weight again and have less stomach cramps. I also have more regular bowel motions and feel like i have more energy. I don’t feel bloated all the time and have less gas.
Apart from the physical, being dairy-free opens a whole new, different world of food. It forces me to be more creative and find alternatives when i do make a meal that traditionally uses dairy. For example, i made my own vegan parmesan cheese the other day, which i never would have done before.
I made a whole butter chicken curry with no dairy AT ALL. I’ve started looking into vegan baking so i can enjoy a chocolate cake, now and then. It has allowed me to adapt and develop my cooking skills.
Even when i go out to eat, i am far more inclined to go for the vegan option (if there is one) to avoid the potential of consuming dairy.
Overall, it is a huge positive for me and i 100% recommend everyone to go dairy free. There is enough research out there to inform us as to why dairy is so unhealthy for us. Since i have gone dairy free, lots of people around me have done the same. My husband rarely consumes dairy productes now. My parents have dairy free milk in the fridge now, which would never have happened before. It is great!
It has been a liberating process, in a way. I feel more empowered having that control over my diet. It also makes me feel more able to cut out other unhealthy things out of my diet, like overly sugary and fatty foods.
I leave you with this:
“The human body has no more need for cows’ milk than it does for dogs’ milk, horses’ milk, or giraffes“