One of the first things I tell my patients is to eliminate dairy foods from their diets. And I won’t kid you; many of them totally freak out. Going dairy-free isn’t easy.
“Seriously?” they say. “It’s hard enough to give up bread, pasta, chips, and soda. Now you want me to stop eating cheese, milk, and yogurt, too?”
Well, yes… I do.
You know why? It’s not because I’m a mean person. It’s because cutting dairy out of your diet is a very smart thing to do (even if you just eliminate it temporarily to see if it’s causing you trouble).
The truth is that most of us simply aren’t designed to metabolize dairy foods. As a result, these foods can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. They’re also terrible for your skin, because they’re highly inflammatory.
Moreover, these foods are big culprits when it comes to congestion and stuffy noses. (One friend of mine says her son “snorts like a big hog” whenever he drinks milk.) In addition, they can worsen asthma in some susceptible people.
And if you’re worried that cutting out milk will leave you with brittle bones, think again. The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, which collected data from more than 77,000 women for 12 years, found that drinking milk offered NO protection against fractures. In fact, drinking more milk appeared to raise the risk for some fractures!
Now, you may be worried that going dairy-free will prevent you from getting enough calcium in your diet. However, all of the following non-dairy foods are great sources of calcium:
- Bok choy
- Sweet potatoes
- Sesame seeds
- Blackstrap molasses
Add these foods to your diet regularly, and you’ll cover all of your calcium needs. (For more on dietary sources of calcium, check out this chart at godairyfree.org.) If you want extra peace of mind, you can take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement that includes calcium.
Do be aware that dairy foods are a little addictive, because they contain protein fragments called casomorphins that can bind to the opioid receptors in your brain. As a result, it may take a little while to break the dairy habit. Be patient, and those cravings will eventually vanish.
In the meantime, fight your cravings by making smart swaps for your favorite dairy foods. For instance, if you find yourself longing for a bite of cheese, reach instead for filling, satisfying foods such as cashews, olives, guacamole, or hard-boiled eggs. And if you’re missing your favorite dairy desserts—for example, ice cream or puddings—search out delicious dairy-free alternatives. You’ll find loads of them online, including recipes like Meyer Lemon Custard and Espresso Gelato With Chocolate Chips on my own website.
Want still more inspiration to go dairy-free? Here’s a luscious panna cotta recipe from Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet. One bite, and you’ll never crave the dairy version again!
Panna Cotta with Balsamic-Soaked Strawberries
Prep Time: 5 minutes • Cook Time: 3 minutes • Makes 10 servings
1⁄2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons unflavored pasture-raised beef gelatin, such as Great Lakes Gelatin
1⁄4 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 cans (14 ounces each) full-fat coconut milk
2 or more teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups fresh strawberries
2–3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
To make the panna cotta: Put the water in a small bowl. Pour the gelatin into the water and let stand for about 1 minute to soften.
Heat the apple juice in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the juice simmers, add the gelatin mixture and stir until completely dissolved.
Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk and vanilla. Pour into 10 ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate for 3 or more hours, or until firmly set.
To make the strawberries: Wash, cut off the caps, slice the berries, and place in a medium bowl. Pour the vinegar over the berries, stir, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Refrigerate if not serving immediately. To serve, run a knife around the edge of a ramekin and tip the panna cotta onto a small plate. Top with the berry mixture.
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!