…and then I quit dairy

dairy cattle

Another 30-day challenge

I’m doing a little experiment: I’m quitting dairy for at least 30 days to see if it might be an allergen for me and to give my digestive system a little break. I don’t eat that much dairy to begin with, so it shouldn’t be too difficult, except it means I can’t eat feta cheese.

I AM HEARTBROKEN.

I’ll probably never quit feta cheese completely (and it is goat cheese after all, which is a lot better than anything made from cow’s milk), but for the sake of this elimination diet, it has to go… Tears have been shed, that’s all I’m sayin’.

cheesecake and berry tart

So, why would I choose to quit dairy?

Basically, I want to see what all the fuss is about…!

When you start reading up on nutrition and health, the “dairy debate” pops up all over the place. Everyone seems to think that in order to achieve optimal health, you must. quit. dairy. right. this. second.

There’s no getting around it. Like I said, I’m not a huge dairy-eater to begin with. I take my coffee black, I don’t drink milk, or eat dubious amounts of pizza with cheddar cheese. It’s basically going to be feta cheese, butter, and yoghurt that I’m giving up.

I want to be strict about this for 30 days to make it a bit of cleanse and see if I can tell a difference. I’m don’t know if I’m expecting anything major, but it’ll be interesting to see if I end up discovering that dairy needs to go for good.

Ice cream

My main points for motivation:

  • Most people cannot digest dairy. After the age of 4, that is. You then stop producing the enzyme lactase – which is the enzyme that digests lactose (the main sugar in milk). The fact that we (Westerners…) can digest it to some extent is a weird form of gene mutation. From a biological standpoint, I’m just not convinced that we’re meant to be drinking milk as adults… especially not milk from another species.
  • Osteoporosis. The countries in the world who chug down the most milk, actually have the highest rates of osteoporisis… Say, whaaat? I know, I know. This goes against everything we learned as kids. Read The China Study – it’ll answer all your questions.
  • Cows are often given steroids and hormones to produces more and “better” milk. These hormones can negatively affect the human hormone balance.
  • Calcium. I knew you were going to bring that up. “But what about the calcium???” You get calcium from plants too, you know. For instance, kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk. Milk made from sesame seeds contains up to 10 times more calcium than cow’s milk.
  • Cows are often fed inappropriate food. Cows eat grass – we all know that. Well, factory cows, or commercially fed cows, don’t get to eat grass. They’re fed grains and soy and corn and all sorts of genetically modified ingredients , and all this can often make them sick. To keep them from getting sick, it’s very common to keep them on antibiotics constantly – putting two and two together, all of that goes into the dairy that we consume.
  • Dairy is mucous forming, which means that – among other things – it can contribute to respiratory disorders. I’ve had asthma my whole life, and a long-term goal of mine is to see if I can heal myself and stop taking asthma medication.

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Ready, set, go! 

As I’m writing this, I’ve already gone over a week without any dairy at all. Can’t say I feel much different yet, but I’m thinking that I’ll find out more when I try to put dairy back into my diet after a month without it. That way I’ll see how it affects me.    

I’ll keep you posted on the no-dairy experiment as time goes by!
Hopefully I’ll learn something useful from it 🙂 

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My transition from average Western eater to health food nut

It doesn’t happen overnight, even though it might look like that to the outside world. This whole changing-your-whole-diet-and-relationship-to-food thing was a long time coming. 

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Over several years, many little seeds were planted in my mind (as in most people’s mind through through the media) about of the 20th-21st century standard Western diet. Those little seeds eventually all blossomed this spring to the point where I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I didn’t want to play along with the way our food culture was going. I wanted a big change, and I wanted a lasting change. I wanted to play big.

Then again, I’m only human, and so I felt the need to treat it like a fun game to get me started.

This Easter, I created a challenge for myself. I wanted to see if it really was “impossible” to eat healthy and avoid processed food, frozen dinners, quick meals  – and not go bankrupt.  See, that was my excuse for a really long time. Oh, you know, I would love to eat organic food, quit sugar and dairy, and treat my body like a temple, but it’s just too expensive. Money and time. Those were usually the excuses it boiled down to.

I finally decided to stop saying that eating only healthy food was too was expensive when I’d never actually given it a whole-hearted attempt. And that’s how the 30 Days of Homemade challenge was born! I decided I’d give it a real try for one month and I set up a list of rules and guidelines (a little bit like a manifesto, ridiculous as it sounds) to make sure I didn’t crack under pressure and get that frozen pizza at the end of the day…

The plan was to eat nothing but homemade food for a whole month. I wanted to know exactly what I was putting into my body, and I wanted to feed it only the best! Even if one day I had my beloved  carrot cake, that was fine as long as I made it myself completely from scratch. I knew it was going to take careful planning and that I was going to have to carve out a good amount of time in my calendar. The idea was that if I gave it my absolute best try and did everything by the book and it still wasn’t realistically possible, then fine. I could eat my frozen pizzas and be okay with it.

Spoiler alert: I’m not going back to eating frozen pizzas 😉

So what happened initially?

+ You’d think my food budget instantly doubled in size, of course. And yeah, maybe it did. But the truth is that I didn’t actually make a budget so much as I wanted to get an idea of what a food budget might look like at the end of the month. That’s kind of what the experiment/challenge was mostly about.

+ I didn’t plan on cutting anything out of my diet, but my sugar-intake dramatically dropped by default, and I accidentally stopped eating meat, chicken and fish. Oops.

+ I spent all my time in the kitchen (whenever I wasn’t sleeping, eating, working, or at the gym) and was childishly eager about everything I was making in there.

+ I felt so damn good. Yes, I was that lone weirdo smiling to every stranger on the bus to work.

(Let it be said that I don’t recommend going cold-turkey on all these “bad foods” unless you absolutely have to because of food allergies etc. It’s much much much easier on your system to make a transitional change and just start adding more fresh veggies+fruit and superfoods into your diet. My body was totally in shock the first few days when I basically tripled my fiber intake… I’m just a really impatient kinda girl. If I know I want to change something, I need it to happen NOW. Not always a smart move 😉 ) 

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After two or three weeks when my friends asked me how my 30-day food challenge was going, I told them it was going great, but that the experiment was over. I didn’t need a 30-day challenge anymore to motivate me. This was a permanent change, there was no question about it.

As for the money – it went fine! I didn’t run out of money like I thought I would. Sure, I spent more money on food than I did two months prior, but it was money so well spent. Here is something I really believe in: if you invest your money in things that are making you stronger, healthier, happier – and have the guts to trust that you will have enough – then money will not be a problem. If you stop worrying and stressing, you create space to actually see how much money you do have when you make priorities. I invested almost all of my money that month on things that would nourish me, and naturally I spent less money on things that ultimately don’t nourish me (like new handbags/shoes and too much alcohol and candy at the corner store).

If you’re thinking about making some changes in your diet to eat healthier and more environmentally consciously, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be aware of where your intention is coming from.

The reason this change in diet has worked so well for me now when it never did before (because I have tried “eating healthier!” before, just like anyone else…) is because I now come from a place of self-love. I respect and love myself enough to stop putting things that aren’t food on my plate on a daily basis.

If you’re coming from a place of fear – i.e. I’ll never look like Jessica Alba/David Beckham if I don’t start to force down a green smoothie every day or my doctor says I’ll have a heart attack by the time I’m 40 if I don’t lower my cholesterol– it’s gonna be really, really tough. We all know this! I knew this! But you can’t just recite the words “I am going to take care of my body by eating healthier food!” if you don’t really feel that love and respect for yourself deep down.

So try to keep that in mind and make sure you check in with your honest intention! That’s the difference between diet and lifestyle 🙂

Xx Christine