My Experiment With Cutting Out Dairy
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My Experiment With Cutting Out Dairy

If you follow my blog or podcast, you know I never “cut out” anything. (See posts related to carbs and sugar!) But this latest experiment had me seriously experimenting with cutting out dairy.

A quick backstory: I’ve struggled with acne for as long as I can remember. You name a solution for bad skin, I’ve taken it or have been on it.

There’s been an ebb and flow to my struggle (sometimes worse, other times not really an issue), but it’s lingered in my life on and off forever.

So I decided to work with a natural health practitioner to help heal my skin (in a holistic way) about 4-5 months ago.

One of the first things she suggested? Cutting out dairy.

Even though I told her I don’t cut out foods and even though I told her my history (and what I do for a living—I tell women all over the world NOT to cut out foods!), she still recommended I lower my dairy intake.

(Upon leaving, I got in my car and pouted to myself…)

BUT I JUST LOVE CHEESE!!!!!! (said in a toddler whine)

Yes, I’ve heard that “they” say dairy impacts your skin health. But I still did NOT want to do it!

So I literally ignored her advice for the first few sessions.

cutting out dairy

But then it came up again.

“You really ought to think about cutting out diary,” she told me again.

“Umm, I don’t eat that much diary?” (That’s me trying to sheepishly weasel my way out of it).

I decided I would at least give it some thought. I mean, I was paying her a lot of money to help me, right?

On my drive home, I decided I’d go all in and just stop eating dairy.

I usually drink some half & half in my coffee, occasionally have Greek yogurt, sometimes snack on ice cream or Froyo… and eat my fair share of cheese.

(Thank you to my college roommate to introducing me to the deliciousness of cheese)

I eat cheese on my eggs in the morning, sometimes have cheese as a snack with crackers, use it sprinkled on many dinner recipes, and probably eat more than my fair share of a “normal” serving per day.

I decided I’d cut it all out cold-turkey and see how my skin was affected.

(Even though my entire dieting history of cutting things out has NOT ONCE yielded a successful outcome…I still thought this was a good idea).

Hint: It wasn’t.

By day 2, all I wanted was cheese.

After knocking some sense into myself, I realized I’d do what I teach all my clients to do when they struggle with a food:

Ask myself: How does eating/not eating dairy make me FEEL? 

Now this question really helped shift it from “cut this out OR ELSE” to “ok, if you didn’t have cheese on your eggs, how do you feel?”

I realized that eggs without cheese wasn’t as tasty, but I actually felt like it agreed with my body better.

I tried eating tacos without cheese (and thought it didn’t taste as good), but I actually did enjoy it in a different way than I thought I would.

I got creative with “letting go” of cheese. (That sounds better to me than “cutting out”!)

Instead of forcing myself to stop eating it, I got curious to see how my body would respond & how things would taste without out.

And if I’m being really honest, I had mixed results.

Sometimes, I’d swear that by not eating dairy it DID clear up my skin. (And then I’d break out two days later and would convince myself that not eating cheese had nothing to do with it!).

Occasionally, I’d go a few days without dairy and then really want it again.

I had great success with trying to eat more hard cheeses (like using a block of parmesan) and ended up using a lot less by grating it on eggs or salads.

But the 100% real truth of the matter?

I am still eating dairy. Not as much as before, but I’m still eating it.

Because I can’t see a direct link to not eating it and having clear skin, it’s been hard for me to justify the “results”.

And my lesson in all this for me?

Health is and always will be a journey.

No matter if you’re trying to stop dieting and binging, attempting to cut something out of your diet for a food allergy, learning to let go of emotional eating, or have any other health related struggles, health can often be a puzzle.

Something works for you for a while and then doesn’t. You have great success with a program and then you need something different. You had a months of eating well and then life/stress/emotions happen.

The key is to remember to cut yourself some slack.

We’re all doing the best we can and it makes it a whole lot easier if we’re kinder to ourselves along the way.

There’s no rush to get to the end because as long as we’re living, our bodies will be changing. 

You’ll never get it all 100% figured out. (And if you do, life usually throws you something else to figure out 🙂 ).

Here’s what I’m telling myself on my skin journey…

This is another lesson on my health path. This is just me learning how to love myself on a deeper level–not conditionally (like I used to only love my body at X pounds), but unconditionally. Breathe and be patient. You’re on the right path 🙂

 

 

 

 

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4 comments

  • Hi Jenn!

    This was a great article, and I couldn’t agree more with you. I am also a weight management practitioner and I have the same way of thinking that you, but I got caught in the title of your article because my daughter has just been diagnosed that she has Lactose intolerance, and since I value your opinion I wanted to read about your experience going dairy free. She has also IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), which makes things worse, and we are just on a diet that limits many things to learn what works and doesn’t work for her. With my experience with “diets don’t work!”, it’s being a challenge to restrict her what she is eating, not making her obsess about it, we are working hard but she is doing great. I’m planning to write an article about diets and IBS including our whole experience. I could share it with you if you are interested.

    I love your work!

    Best wishes

    Arantxa

  • Thanks for your thoughts, Arantxa! It sounds like another lesson on your path, as well…how to be in your knowing around “restriction” while helping your daughter figure out how to best work through her health concerns. Yes, would love to hear about your experience! 🙂

  • Great blog! Reading it I thought “hormones”! My skin didn’t clear up until mine were adjusted, initially with pills, later by Nature. 🙂 I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance (less than 10% absorption) long before my skin cleared up, despite transferring to soy milk, not eating cheese etc. I think it is all too easy to blame food groups for some things when the problem might lie elsewhere. And in my case I try to think “substitute” rather than “deprivation”. Also, often we don’t take into account our genetic inheritance, for instance. I have had two major health problems, both congenital. For me, I tend to think it’s best to avoid a lot of processed food – because of the non-food extras that are often present – and to keep hydrated. Beyond that, unless there is a specifically diagnosed issue such as lactose intolerance or a defined allergy, just eat “normally” with reference to what you like and how food makes you feel. Good luck with getting a workable food approach for your daughter, Arantxa.

  • I agree–there could be a million other things that factor into the health issue besides the food. (Which is one reason why I’m always reluctant to ever cut anything out!) I love you using the word “substitute”…it feels so much less diety 😉

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