My experience on a dairy-free diet

by Khushboo on February 2, 2015

A while ago, I put up a blog post on going dairy-free (you can read about it here), but I never really followed up.  Especially as eating a vegan diet and/or going without milk products has become rather popular, I wanted to share my experience on a dairy-free diet. 

Giving up dairy:

Long story short, I adopted a Paleo diet in November 2013 in an attempt to balance out my hormones.  Along with  various food items to eliminate, dairy was on the top of that list.  Before then,  I was eating up to 400g of plain yogurt in a day.  I have always loved eating milk products, especially yogurt, so the thought alone was a nightmare initially.  Nonetheless my health was a priority so I went off dairy cold turkey.  One huge improvement I experienced was feeling less bloated & less digestive discomfort overall.  I actually didn’t miss dairy as much as I expected- my yogurt bowls at breakfast were suddenly replaced with overnight oats made from almond milk, high-protein oatmeal waffles & eggs.  During my hiatus, I also read up plenty on the harmful of effects of dairy on hormones which made it all the more easier to avoid  

Eggwhite, Cheddar & Tomato Sandwich

After doing some blood tests in March 2014, the results revealed that eating a Paleo diet did more harm than good to my health.  As a result, I said ‘bye’ to eating a cavemen-style diet & brought back my old favourites including oats, peanut butter & tofu.  Although dairy was still out, I became less rigid and started incorporating small amounts into my diet e.g. a few slices of pizza when eating out or the occasional ice cream.  Fortunately this didn’t seem to affect me much. 

Re-introducing dairy:

Fast forward to November 2014 (one year after I decided to dabble in Paleo) I decided to experiment again.  I ate my favourite yogurt bowl combination (raw oats, plain yogurt, banana & toasted almonds and cinnamon) and I’m not going to lie- I licked that bowl clean!  As I felt fine, I continued eating the same breakfast daily for the next 6 weeks. While I didn’t notice any digestive discomfort like before, I noticed a reaction which was a first for me: skin breakout.  As eating yogurt regularly was the only dietary change I had made, I was almost certain that was the cause.  Within 3 days of quitting dairy again, my skin almost immediately cleaned up (thank the lord).  

Yogurt bowl

As for where I stand now:

Especially as our bodies and lifestyles are constantly changing, I’m all for diet experimentation and determining what currently works/doesn’t work.  Even though some of the side-effects were unpleasant, I am glad I have had this journey with dairy to learn how it affects me.  For now at least, I am keeping my intake of milk-based products to a minimum i.e. when eating out at restaurant & it’s something I really want or for the occasional ice cream.  While I love yogurt & cheese, fortunately there are enough other delicious foods & sources of both calcium and protein to enjoy.  The temporary breakout was enough to get me serious about taking better care of my skin.  From washing my face once a day (terrible I know), I’m now cleansing, toning, moisturising twice a day without fail…at least something good came out of the whole ordeal ;).  

Do you notice any adverse reactions from certain foods? Which?

What’s your favourite dairy product?

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Arman @ thebigmansworld February 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Ohhh dairy. Touch wood that I can always eat it alright- That’s actually something I’m kind of worried about after doing paleo again during weekdays is that I might develop something once I reintroduce it back but then again, on the weekend I ate my weight in cottage cheese so hopefully that balanced it out!

I guess that also answers that question too lol. Can’t get enough of that stuff!

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Sooo I take it you are a fan of cottage cheese 😉

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Letizia@thefitlabel February 2, 2015 at 3:06 pm

It’s so interesting to experiment with foods and see what works for our bodies and what doesn’t!!

I seem to be one of the lucky few: I can eat anything (dairy, gluten etc.) and I don’t have any adverse reactions. The only thing is that if I eat too much fiber, it affects my digestion (bloating and such).

I LOVE dairy and my favourite dairy products are Skyr (Icelandic yogurt), Greek yogurt (especially the flavored ones), feta and goat’s cheese. Ricotta is also high on my list 🙂

I also drink 2 cups of coffee with half & half every day, and sometimes a cappuccino with cow’s milk.

Dairy products are pretty popular in Switzerland (cheese is a big deal around here) and the milk is of good quality, so maybe that’s why I tolerate it without any problems.

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Ah if I lived in Switzerland, I think it would be 100 x harder to go without cheese!! A friend recently told me about Skyr (never heard about it before then) and it sounds so good!

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Linda @ The Fitty February 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

I’m currently trying to cut dairy out for at least 30 days and see how that goes. It’s so hard because I love cheese like a crazy maniac. I once at an entire 300g cheese block in one sitting. Yup, that was me.

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Would love to hear how you feel during/after the 30 days!

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Amanda @ .running with spoons. February 2, 2015 at 4:59 pm

I’m a huge, HUGE advocate of experimenting with your diet. I feel like I’m constantly tinkering with mine, and it’s let me figure out some things that work and some things that don’t. I’ve definitely been cutting back on dairy in the past few months after noticing positive changes in my skin when I cut it out for a while. And like you, I thought I would miss it, but it hasn’t actually been bad at all! I’m crediting the cold and creamy smoothies for that one 😉

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Ooh you know it- smoothies have been a lifesaver for filling the yogurt void :)! I would love to read about some of the changes you’ve made to your diet and the effects you’ve experienced!

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Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli February 2, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Good for you for figuring out some of the changes with your diet and not being afraid to experiment! I definitely get nervous making too many experiments and honestly, I don’t think I have the willpower for it. I go in phases with dairy – I always use almond milk for my cereal/smoothies etc because I much prefer the taste, but I love yogurt/ice cream/CHEESE. It’s all about what works for each of us and that can certainly change over time :).

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm

I can definitely understand the fear factor- I think being in the right mindset is most important when making changes to your diet i.e. accepting what might come about!

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Cat February 2, 2015 at 7:24 pm

I’m so with you on the experimentation – but like you found, with any experiments there are risks involved! I know that I have changed my body for the better in the last couple of years, but sometimes I do get concerned that cutting out so many foods (following a paleo/primal way of eating) could actually cause intolerances, or at least have some neggy impacts on my health – so for that reason I like to dabble in non-paleo foods fairly often just to make sure I’m still resilient enough to handle them.

But yeah, the dairy one is clearly a skin issue for me too, but hopefully it isn’t a permanent removal – I like cheese far too much!

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:47 pm

That’s a good idea to still eat non-primal foods every once in a while to avoid becoming intolerant- if you’re going to stay away from certain foods, you’d rather it be out of choice than necessity!

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Liz @ I Heart Vegetables February 2, 2015 at 8:19 pm

When I went vegan (I was already vegetarian, so no-dairy was the only change for me) I felt like my… er, “digestion” improved, haha.

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Haha I am not surprised!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets February 2, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Dairy is kind of a weird one. Lots of people are lactose intolerant or at least experience some effects, especially when they haven’t been eating it for awhile. We’re also the only mammal to drink or eat the milk from another mammal well into adulthood. Hence the weirdness. That being said, you know I love my cheese. I don’t actually experiment with my diet at all, and that’s because what I’ve been doing is working for me. I feel good and my doctor always gives me two thumbs up so I’m going leave well enough alone.

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

I love your approach- and hey if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…at least that’s what I’m going with!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 2, 2015 at 9:30 pm

I’m sure that certain food affect me negatively but I have a hard time narrowing it. I think dairy is ok, but I definitely can’t eat olives or celery.

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Is that more due to taste or do you notice any ill reactions from eating celery and olives?

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 3, 2015 at 8:38 pm

I bloat really badly. 🙁

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Khushboo February 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

Ick better to stay away from both- good thing neither of them are overly delicious ;)!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Ummmm… olive oil. 🙁

Brittany February 2, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Experimentation is the only way to really know what works for YOU. Every body is different after all! 🙂

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Amen!

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Parita @ myinnershakti February 3, 2015 at 4:25 am

As you know, I’ve been experimenting with my dairy intake and have learned that it exacerbates my acne. There’s definitely a connection! In fact, I was listening to a nutrition podcast, and they were saying that dairy is the #1 food related cause of acne while gluten is #2. I’m just glad i’m off my antibiotics and things!

And my favorite dairy product – cheese…of any kind. I miss it more than I really should!

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Do you remember what the podcast is called? I would love to check it out!

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Sam @ Better With Sprinkles February 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm

I keep meaning to experiment with cutting dairy for a few weeks, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet! Once I went off hormonal BC, I definitely noticed more acne/skin issues. So it’d be interesting to see if cutting dairy clear that up. Couldn’t hurt to try, right? I don’t actually eat a ton of dairy to begin with – cheese once in a while, but usually yogurt or cottage cheese. Ice cream is of course my favourite dairy product!

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Khushboo February 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm

I’ve heard that going off hormonal BC can result in skin issues- hopefully it’s just a temporary situation as your body gets used to the changes!

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig February 3, 2015 at 6:47 pm

I have suuuuch a bad reaction to dairy, which is a shame as I love it so much. I still have cheese once or twice a week, and ice cream will always be my favourite treat, but I find it best to stay away from milk or yogurt altogether.

Have you heard of the caveman skincare regime? You might like it, more than a caveman-style of eating 😉

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Khushboo February 4, 2015 at 11:39 am

I actually haven’t heard of the cavemen skincare regime…what’s it about??

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig February 4, 2015 at 4:27 pm

It’s about not touching your face at all. No products, not even washing it! http://thelovevitamin.com/3135/caveman-regimen/

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Khushboo February 5, 2015 at 10:48 am

Oh wow I’m not sure I could do it myself, but it sounds like an interesting approach!

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Angela @ HonestlyAngela February 4, 2015 at 3:23 am

Dairy makes me break out if I eat a lot of it too. Like you I still eat it if it sounds extra delicious. I also still eat yogurt almost every day. I am sure my skin would be better if I avoided it, but I really like yogurt!

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Khushboo February 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

On the plus side, at least you know how improve your skin if it ever gets unbearable 🙂

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GiGi Eats February 6, 2015 at 8:53 am

I do not touch: wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, nuts & fruit! Nope. I cannot eat them, cannot process them 🙁 However, I am not 🙁 I am actually completely content with my dietary restrictions because I have been living this way for so long and I have found that my diet is so delicious even without ice cream and what not! No need!

I am glad you tested yourself like a guinea pig though, you need to in order to figure out what’s up! People need to stop being in denial about their issues! Diet plays THE BIGGEST role in how we feel and what we look like!

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Khushboo February 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Loved reading your comment, Gigi! Is their any fruit which you can handle eating? Although having dietary restrictions can seem limiting, I actually find that the opposite holds true – it makes you want to come out of your comfort zone and try new recipes which you probably wouldn’t bother to otherwise! And yes about our diet being the foundation of almost anything!

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GiGi Eats February 7, 2015 at 6:07 am

The only fruit I can handle are the “vegetable fruits”… Like Tomatoes, cucumbers, winter squash…. But in small quantities. It’s all about the amount of fructose I consume 🙁

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Khushboo February 7, 2015 at 11:54 am

That’s so interesting- glad you were able to pinpoint the cause of your digestive distress :)!

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Ashley @ A Lady Goes West February 6, 2015 at 11:41 pm

Oh K! Thanks for sharing your experience. I would be sooo sad not to have Greek yogurt on a daily basis, but I’m sure it wouldn’t kill me. I’ve never experimented with elimination like this, but know that I would find out a ton about myself. I should do it sometime. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Khushboo February 7, 2015 at 11:53 am

Hi Ashley- glad you enjoyed reading it! I too couldn’t imagine not eating Greek yogurt back in the day, but fortunately I’ve found enough replacements to fill the void :)!

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Khushboo February 5, 2015 at 10:48 am

Duh- I’m such an airhead haha!

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