Are you confused and wondering is dairy good for you? Learn from this real-life story of what happened when I reintroduced it into my diet.
Cheese has always been a love language of mine. I would choose cheese over sweets any day of the week. Knowing this, you can imagine how hard it was for me to give up dairy. But for health, I would do about anything.
I grew up in the ’90s when milk was healthy. Thanks to celebrities wearing milk mustaches and neon-colored jumpsuits in magazine ads, every kid drank milk.
But things flipped, as they generally do, and dairy was no longer healthy or cool. If you’ve been in the health space for any length of time, you know this all too well. Dairy has switched from healthy to being been a hormone-disrupting, acne-causing substance that wrecks your gut. Except for ghee and grass-fed butter, those are good, especially mixed with coffee.
I’m being sarcastic. But you can literally feel the confusion in your bones. Two contradictory statements and lifestyles that seem to flip with the latest trends leave you wondering what is true?
Is Dairy Good For Me?
If I’m being honest, there is research on both sides of the aisle, making this a more complicated subject than it should be. In one breath, dairy is inflammatory. In another, it’s healing. But if you dig in further, there are more details than classifying all dairy under one label. They are not the same but distinct, bringing their own health implications. I’ll dive into this later.
Even I was confused, and I lived and breathed the health space, studying the body while trying to understand how we should treat our body. But I did what most of us do, I ended my loyalty to the dairy industry and moved to a dairy-free lifestyle.
I attribute the days after dumping dairy to how I continued in this place for so long. I genuinely did feel better. My bloating seemed to vanish overnight, and my skin cleared up within a month.
But as those problems lessened over years of restriction, other problems started creeping up. Problems I attributed to other things I was eating, like nightshades. I fear a lot of us do this. Continuously blame our health on what we’re currently doing rather than what our body is missing.
My body was missing something.
I get it, restriction is an easy answer that has solved many problems. I don’t want to deny there are times and places in all of our lives when giving up foods can be beneficial in healing. But I also don’t want us to believe the only way to continue healing is to keep restricting because restricting comes with a cost. Making you miss out on vital nutrients your body might need.
In my denial of myself for the sake of giving up foods claimed as harmful, I missed that my body was feeling depleted and deprived. I was living an undernourished life that I can describe in no other way other than starving. The problem is, it didn’t register as starving because I was eating and eating a lot. But that’s the tricky part about health. You can starve yourself even though you’re eating if your food is void of what you need.
This place left me insatiable around food. I felt out of control, salivating when I felt full. I could spend hours staring into the refrigerator, looking for the one thing that would satiate me, but nothing did. At least nothing I allowed myself to eat.
I’d love to tell you this story ends by me instantly knowing my body needed dairy. But I came back to eating dairy when I quit health. In the days when I declared an end to hating my life and hating the process of trying to find health. Which led me back to doing things I craved, like eating dairy.
I learned a lot when I quit health.
The irony is I felt so much better in the days and months after quitting health. I felt nourished, which I attribute back to paying attention to my body and indulging in what it was craving. I learned through that process where my balance is. Even though that balance is always changing, I know when is too much or not enough based on how I feel, and I supply the highest quality of dairy when I choose to consume it.
I’m not here to say that dairy is what you need for your health to fall into place. The hardest part about health is not always the confusion but embracing the idea that health is different for all of us. But maybe that’s also your glimmer of freedom, to try new things and pay attention to how your body responds.
Jumping off the extremist lifestyle of flip-flopping diet recommendations and get back to quality in moderation. Knowing any “good” thing can turn “bad” if done to the extreme, even water.
What my life looks like now.
My life looks different now but not wildly different, which is what health should be, small changes based on your body’s needs. I eat dairy, but I don’t guzzle milk, and I still consume some dairy-free alternatives because a healthy lifestyle is not one or the other but a balance of all of it.
- I add cheese and cream cheese to my meals if it’s fitting.
- When a recipe calls for milk I cook with organic whole milk – not a lot but a little bit.
- I drink an adrenal cocktail when my body feels sluggish.
- I add butter to a lot of my foods because I love butter.
But I also:
- Get coconut milk in place of cow’s milk at coffee shops.
- Eat coconut milk yogurt over dairy yogurt because I prefer it.
For me, it’s a balance – some dairy but not too much. It’s not perfect, it’s always changing, and I love that aspect. I am free to eat what I crave without shame. That’s what I want for you! To see food, not for a moral code but how it makes you feel because this will be the only thing that stands long term.
I don’t want this post to add to your confusion but do the opposite. Each of our health journeys is different, and it always will be. The only thing I hope is that we can end the villainizing of food and our body. Pursuing real health rather than the latest version of health allowing you to stop listening to the noise, opinions, and the dos of one person and the don’ts of another but listen to your body.
In case you are wondering, I also tried this experiment with gluten. Unlike dairy, I found that even a little bit made me feel bad, so I’ve continued my lifestyle without it. But even now, I don’t feel confined by it but rather empowered to know that it doesn’t make me feel good, at least for this season of life. Maybe later that will change, or maybe not. Either way, I feel good, and I will stand firmly there.