Disclaimer: This article has no intention of undermining or downgrading the struggles that come with being lactose intolerant or not being able to consume dairy. This is just a trial of how hard it could be for someone who does not have this dietary restriction.
Many diets that serve to benefit your skin and body begin by cutting out one major food group — dairy. As someone who has suffered from acne since middle school, I have heard of the benefits of cutting dairy from your diet time and again; however I never stuck to the diet strictly, having a weakness for ice cream and milk chocolate. This week I tried going full blown dairy-free, and the results surprised me.
On Sunday, I began by shopping for dairy-free replacements for everyday food. I live in Lipton Residence Hall, so there are always vegan options, but I wanted to make sure I had something quick to grab if I was in a rush. I ended up with a few solid items, including almond milk; Kite Hill yogurt, which uses almond milk; and NadaMoo, a non-dairy ice cream made from coconut milk. As someone who doesn’t like cheese, I opted away from vegan cheese or vegan cream cheese options, although those were available at Whole Foods.
The biggest change I made to my Monday morning routine was using almond milk in my coffee instead of creamer, which was different, but I kind of thought it was a good different. Around 11 a.m., I found myself getting hungry again and opted for some Kite Hill yogurt, which was surprisingly amazing. As someone who usually doesn’t like yogurt unless it’s full of sugar, e.g. Danimals, I think I enjoyed this yogurt more. My lunch and dinner didn’t involve any dairy replacements, but after dinner I had one of the vegan chocolate chip cookies in the Lipton dining hall, which was a solid 10 out of 10.
I was running late on Tuesday, so my breakfast consisted of cereal and almond milk, which, again, was surprisingly not bad. I won’t go as far as saying almond milk tastes exactly like regular milk, but I could see it growing on me. I didn’t have any dairy replacement products again until after dinner, when I realized that the NadaMoo ice cream was still in my freezer. I had tried NadaMoo before, but I was excited to try a new flavor, “The Rockiest Road.” While it wasn’t as creamy as traditional ice cream, it got the job done.
On Wednesday, I began to notice differences in how I was feeling. Usually dairy would leave me feeling heavy and bloated, but I was just too stubborn to do something about it. Now, I didn’t experience any stomach pain or bloating all day, and when I worked out, running was significantly easier. While I wouldn’t say cutting out dairy was a fix for everything since my skin was still breaking out, it certainly did boost my mood.
Coming out of this experience, I’ve realized that while going dairy-free won’t work miracles, it definitely can have a positive impact on how you feel during the day. Moving forward, I’m not sure if I will go completely dairy-free. I do love normal ice cream, but I will definitely be more conscious. In fact, I have officially made the switch to almond milk in my coffee.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 6 print edition. Email Tyler Crews at [email protected]