A no-dairy diet has been linked to different benefits, including healthier hormone levels, excellent insulin levels, better absorption of nutrients that are often blocked by dairy, and healthier skin. Dairy products may influence or aggravate skin conditions like acne, and eliminating dairy from your diet can lead to happier and healthier skin.
Going dairy-free has also been associated with better digestion for those who struggle with lactose intolerance. Dairy products contain lactose, and in people with lactose intolerance, their bodies are unable to fully digest the sugar (lactose), causing bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
But going dairy-free, whether as a preference or for ethical or health reasons, can be hard. It is a huge lifestyle modification, and it can be frustrating, considering that most foods contain dairy. Dairy also has casomorphins, a mild form of morphine, making dairy and dairy products like cheese addictive.
How do you overcome these hurdles and go completely dairy free? Here are five dairy-free tips for beginners to help you on your dairy-free journey.
Know your enemy and the substitutes
A dairy-free diet excludes dairy products, including milk and other food made from milk, like ice cream, cheese, butter, and yogurt. These are all foods you should avoid when going dairy-free.
It is also important to research dairy alternatives as it will make the transition easier. Many of us grew up being told to drink our milk if we wanted healthy and strong bones, and as something that our bodies are used to, it can be hard to just cut it out. We recommend switching dairy products with dairy-free options like coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, or oat milk, especially at the start.
Read labels, ask questions you are unsure about, especially when dining out, and do your research. It might be easier to tell what contains dairy with things like milk or cheese. But for some, it is harder. Under US federal law, a product can be named non-dairy if it contains less than 5% milk protein by weight. This means that while products may have a no-dairy tag, they may contain a little dairy.
If you are unsure, you can switch to plant-based products until you know what products are completely dairy-free.
Create a list of dairy-free meals
Having a list of dairy-free meals that you already love can make starting a dairy-free diet easier. It helps you know your options when eating out or just doing the shopping.
Some examples of dairy-free meals and snacks include vegetarian brown rice bowls, coconut lime panko-crusted cod, shrimp and avocado salad, banana protein muffins, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, coconut yogurt, and our very own superfood grain-free granola with functional mushrooms.
Expand your palate
Try something different, like new fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Dairy is found in many common foods and snacks, and when going dairy free, it is essential to keep your options open. Add more seasoning and new dairy-free meals and snacks to your meal plan.
Keep it simple
Going dairy-free easily is only achievable if you are ready to learn and try. At the start, it will be hard to find dairy-free foods as this is not something you are accustomed to. We recommend keeping it simple during the first 15 to 30 days and then adding more options as you learn.