6

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What have you learned from going dairy-free? Any advice?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 02, 2012 at 2:59 AM

I've been lactose-paleo now for about six months and would like to try the next step of going dairy free to see what improvements might result. My starting position is pretty strong I think, no food intolerances/allergies I'm aware of, varied and fresh diet, no significant health issues.

I've found the improvements from going Paleo have been subtle and taken a long time to manifest (6kg weight loss without trying, a bit more energy, sleeping better) so I'm not expecting miracles over night but am willing to be in there for the long haul.

I'm curious to find out what others have learned from eliminating dairy from their diets and what advice they might have. The things going through my mind about this include:

  • Go 'cold turkey' and eliminate all dairy from day 1, or do in a phased approach
  • If phased, what is the best order, e.g. milk, then cream then cheese?
  • What works well to replace the lost fats, vitamins, calories with?
  • What sort of changes might I expect to see (I have some mild eczema for example)?
  • How long will it be before changes (if any) become noticeable?
  • What are the sort of things to avoid or look out for?
  • Can I survive without my morning caff?? latte?! (sob)

I appreciate that this might cover a lot of ground but I've not seen any other questions cover the specifics of removing dairy and the PH peeps always seem to deliver the goods!

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on July 03, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Interesting to know about kefir. When I add dairy back after my whole30, I'm going to add kefir back first. Love that stuff. :)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 03, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Gotta add here: For those of you who are into Ayurveda, I'm a kapha-type, and I saw a practitioner a long time ago who urged me to give up dairy. I of course didn't want to. Now that I've cut back immensely, I've noticed a *very positive change in my mood.* My energy levels were already pretty good, but they're sky high now, and my *ambition* has come back. It's hard to explain, but dairy (esp. *cold* dairy, like ice cream, yogurt, etc) is supposedly bad for aggravating kapha. (Makes you sluggish, depressed, and generally just *blah.* I have to wonder if there's really something to this!)

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on July 02, 2012
at 11:15 PM

my boyfriend is really loving full fat coconut milk in his coffee.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:50 PM

Put the coconut milk in your glass, then some of the coffee, stir, add the rest, stir, add ice. Avoids coconut milk globs.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:20 PM

I've not tried coconut milk in iced coffee...that might be the switch I need!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 02, 2012
at 05:30 PM

Good point: "After a few months of continual research, I learned that I felt better mostly because of the KIND of dairy I cut out. What kind? Processed, pasteurized, crappy dairy."

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on July 02, 2012
at 04:56 PM

Great answer. I gave you a +1.

183f5c49a7a9548b6f5238d1f33cb35e

(1716)

on July 02, 2012
at 03:44 PM

Dairy maked me retain subcutaneous water like crazy, the the point of it being unbearable around my fingers and toes. When I cut it out my shoe size went down! And my midsection puffs up like a marshmallow too. Now I am pretty much dairy free, but I can get away with a pat of butter or a whip of cream about once a month or so. Only a small amount, very very sparsely.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on July 02, 2012
at 09:01 AM

Love the idea of coffee and cinnamon, wasn't looking forward to having to survive on doppio espressos alone. Going to have to try that tomorrow!

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11 Answers

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3
6473dcb4b0e9b839615d650c168d2747

(638)

on July 02, 2012
at 03:19 PM

Been paleo for 7 months. I did paleo for about 3 months with dairy (not much, just a dash of milk in my coffee) and I assumed it was fine as I didn't have any adverse GI reactions. Then I decided to cut it out as an experiment and my hayfever completely disappeared. Whenever I consume dairy now my hayfever comes back and it's unbearable. I started reintroducing various dairy products to see how I did on them and so far I've realised:

  • I can do grassfed goats milk

  • I can't do cows milk in any shape or form,even heavy cream sob

  • Creamy cheeses, even goats cheese gives me the trots (SORRY!)

  • Hard cheese is fine for me in small amounts.

I guess the thing is you never know until you stop and then reintroduce, I know everyone says this but we're all different! It's worth a try even if you feel you're doing 'OK'. I do miss cheese boards and occasionally indulge, but I always pay for it!

8
C6e32ff9978fe287aa8c1c6be52d9524

(1548)

on July 02, 2012
at 02:58 PM

It's HIGHLY individual. I know some with disease that reduced symptoms after cutting it, while others cured issues with true, quality, local dairy in later time. I know others that do amazing on dairy, while others do absolutely terrible. When I initially ate dairy before learning about a paleo template, I cut it all out. I felt amazing. After a few months of continual research, I learned that I felt better mostly because of the KIND of dairy I cut out. What kind? Processed, pasteurized, crappy dairy.

I then slowly started to reintroduce dairy back into my diet via raw, grass-fed cheeses, milk, yogurt, kefir, etc from local sources and felt even more awesome. The accumulation of processed, garbage dairy takes a toll on ones health. I always tell people cut all dairy for a while, then later down the road, re-introduce quality dairy to see how well they respond to it.

Experiment. Your body is your n=1 experiment more than others "facts/opinions" You have to establish a paleo template of foods that you respond well to and revolve eating around that so you feel awesome all day long. Monitor your reactions, how you feel directly after eating, etc.

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on July 02, 2012
at 04:56 PM

Great answer. I gave you a +1.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 02, 2012
at 05:30 PM

Good point: "After a few months of continual research, I learned that I felt better mostly because of the KIND of dairy I cut out. What kind? Processed, pasteurized, crappy dairy."

4
03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

on July 02, 2012
at 03:11 AM

I always thought I tolerated dairy really well, and I consumed a lot of dairy on a daily basis. When I stopped dairy, I realized how much better I felt. That came as a big shock.

I also realized that, by eliminating dairy, I could add better, more nutritious foods to my diet. Now I will eat strawberries and nuts instead of cottage cheese.

I did just go cold turkey when I stopped, with no adverse reactions. Depending on how much dairy you consume, I would advise having other foods there to fill the void.

3
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 02, 2012
at 06:16 PM

Being that the OP is a male, my answer might not be entirely relevant, but it might help some women out there...

I am a dairy LOVER. Cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, sour cream -- you name the dairy product, I love it. (The only thing I don't do is liquid milk.) I eat about 85/15 Paleo, with most of that 15 coming from dairy. I always eat full-fat, but not always organic. My yogurt is organic only, but all the rest wasn't always. (Although I did try to stick to the Daisy or Friendship brands, that have no wacky additives.)

I have wanted to try giving up dairy for a while now but have been fighting it kicking and screaming.

Here's the thing:

I have NO intolerance that I'm aware of. No mucus, no allergies, no asthma, no acne, no digestive distress, no nothin'! So it's hard to find a reason to give it up for a while. BUT: I'm working on decreasing my estrogen levels (and improving the 16-OH:2-OH estrone ratio) via DIM, calcium-d-glucarate, and stress reduction. Now, I LOVE me some dairy. I do NOT want to give it up. And I think most people can do just fine on good quality, organic, full-fat stuff. But I realized it was totally counterproductive for me to be taking these supplements and working to decrease estrogen while simultaneously ingesting a substance that comes from lactating animals. Be it a goat, a cow, a sheep, they're all lactating! I've heard Loren Cordain use this argument sometimes when he talks about dairy, and it finally registered with me. Even if I were eating all grassfed, organic, raw, the most pristine dairy products complete with their own wings, halos, and choirs singing from above, they're still full of exogenous hormones that I really do not need right now. (It took me a while to "get" that even if the cows weren't being shot up with rBGH, the fact that I was consuming the product of their lactation meant that I was probably getting some extra hormones that I would be better off without.)

At this point, I'm about 2 weeks into my low-dairy experiment. I'm not 100% dairy free, but I have cut WAY back. The only things I do now are butter and cream. (The cream is organic but not grassfed, but the butter is the real deal, from a farm nearby.) The quantities are relatively small. (Maybe 2Tbsp cream in my coffee every day and the butter I just use once in a while. Not every day.)

Results? I feel (and look) GREAT! Unfortunately, I made the classic mistake of changing multiple things at once, so I can't necessarily attribute my very improved mood (and slightly improved physique) to the cut in dairy. (I also started taking 5000 IU of D3/day plus taking my DIM at the same time I eat broccoli or some other cruciferous veg, as I've heard experts say it's even more effective that way.)

Still, I'm thinking at least some of the overall improvement is due to the lower dairy. (We'll see - my birthday is in a few weeks and I'm considering treating myself to a couple of my favorite cheeses that I normally never buy b/c they're like $20+ per lb.) And then again, I'm feeling so good that I don't know if I'll even want to risk it...

I am really missing my homemade salad dressings and dips, though! (I created a bunch of my own using Greek yogurt and sour cream. I guess I'm just gonna have to experiment with vinaigrettes instead.)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 03, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Gotta add here: For those of you who are into Ayurveda, I'm a kapha-type, and I saw a practitioner a long time ago who urged me to give up dairy. I of course didn't want to. Now that I've cut back immensely, I've noticed a *very positive change in my mood.* My energy levels were already pretty good, but they're sky high now, and my *ambition* has come back. It's hard to explain, but dairy (esp. *cold* dairy, like ice cream, yogurt, etc) is supposedly bad for aggravating kapha. (Makes you sluggish, depressed, and generally just *blah.* I have to wonder if there's really something to this!)

3
322b72952bd90cd25ea1082130c2a8c6

(159)

on July 02, 2012
at 05:23 AM

I assumed that I was very tolerant of dairy, but I cut it out cold turkey and haven't looked back! I use to be rather mucus-ridden, but it pretty much disappeared after I cut dairy out. It's a bit sad at first, especially because I LOVED cheese, but after a while the benefits outweigh the change in flavor. These changes I noticed within a week.

I also have had chronic eczema pretty much my entire life, but cutting out dairy hasn't improved it at all. I do however notice that my sense of taste seems to be more sensitive, and I have learned to love black coffee with some cinnamon.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on July 02, 2012
at 09:01 AM

Love the idea of coffee and cinnamon, wasn't looking forward to having to survive on doppio espressos alone. Going to have to try that tomorrow!

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

(540)

on July 02, 2012
at 11:15 PM

my boyfriend is really loving full fat coconut milk in his coffee.

1
7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add

on July 02, 2012
at 11:29 PM

I have learned that I am completely addicted to dairy. I did a Whole 30, albeit kicking and screaming for the first 10 days (literally: headaches, day dreaming about dairy, counting the hours until I could add it back in to see what happened lol) but eventually adjusted. I added it back in 4 weeks ago, after going 45 days instead of 30, and since then it has been a slippery slope. I started out with full fat greek yogurt, felt fine with that so I had some grassfed cheese and butter and then goat cheese, cream cheese and now am back with the babybel cheese that is probably processed to hell. Got to stop the madness!

I've had more headaches, more GI distress and sinus/ear congestion/pressure.

I'm currently in the process of finishing up everything I already cooked with dairy that is in the fridge and then going cold turkey again for a while to slow down with adding things back in so that I know where to draw the line and don't go back to having a cheesy free for all, as delicious as it is.

1
4498698fa91a620e4ee5b618da71016a

(427)

on July 02, 2012
at 10:54 PM

I am simply not a giant pimple.

I tend to eat stuff not in packages anyways so I just don't bother walking by the dairy aisles of places. I love cheese.

1
61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:33 PM

As most have said, it's an individual thing. I just finished up a Whole30 challenge (which eliminates dairy), so I thought I'd share the changes I saw. I usually eat Paleo plus dairy with a few cheats here and there, so the Whole30 wasn't that big a change for me.

When I reintroduced dairy:

  • I woke up the next morning with a headache. I did not have a headache at all during my Whole30.
  • I had congestion/sinus pressure for a few days. I also did not experience this during my Whole30.
  • Digestive issues. I usually have little to no gas, but I found myself bloated and gassy. Just uncomfortable.
  • I'm craving dairy! Despite these symptoms, I'm having trouble staying away from dairy. I'd say it's probably one of those addictive foods, at least for me.

I have eliminated dairy before and did not see as obvious results as I did with the Whole30, so I'm thinking getting rid of the last bit of processed foods may have made a difference. Perhaps staying away from restaurants during the Whole30 made the difference I needed...it's hard to be sure what they put in foods in restaurants.

If you can stay away for 30 days, I highly recommend trying to go dairy free (or do a Whole30!) if only to see how you feel when you reintroduce it! Then at least you'll be aware of what it does to you, if anything. 8)

1
F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

on July 02, 2012
at 05:04 PM

I have been doing paleo for about 4 months. Before and during that time, my most voluminous food has been homemade kefir. I must have drank at least a quart every day. I stopped homemade kefir about a week ago as an experiment. I have not notice anything. I was making heavy duty kefir smoothies with berries. I did notice that lots of berries was causing me problems. But the homemade kefir has not been a problem.

I was doing next to zero other dairy during this whole time.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on July 03, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Interesting to know about kefir. When I add dairy back after my whole30, I'm going to add kefir back first. Love that stuff. :)

1
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 02, 2012
at 04:09 PM

I've always done better cold turkeying something. Get it all over quickly and brutally and avoid the temptation of reminders. Plus if you are going to benefit from dairy elimination, you won't experience the difference until after it's all gone.

Coconut milk in coffee is quite different, but I'm loving it in iced coffees, probably because there isn't the same level of flavor/texture expectation.

Added: Forgot to say what changed for me. Duh! I no longer have after meal and waking congestion that has been with me for years, to the point where I just accepted it as part of life. Very nice change.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:50 PM

Put the coconut milk in your glass, then some of the coffee, stir, add the rest, stir, add ice. Avoids coconut milk globs.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:20 PM

I've not tried coconut milk in iced coffee...that might be the switch I need!

1
61c1efcc482019e016c45270b18c7453

(645)

on July 02, 2012
at 02:46 PM

I've always consumed dairy such as cottage cheese, greek yogurt, milk, and especially whey supplements and was able to tolerate it pretty well. The only problems I had from diary were when I use to drink it by the cup. Then I couldn't tolerate it as much i.e bubble gut and stuff like that.

Ever since starting Paleo which has only been two weeks might I add I have cut diary out completely. I honestly don't feel any different. Now that might just be not being able to compare it to how I use to feel before because of the many other factors such as cutting out gluten etc...

The real challenge is going to be when I reintroduce diary into my diet. It's something I plan to do once I'm done with doing strict Paleo for 30 days. I think I'll find out how it really affects me at that point.

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