Dairy-Free Lifestyle: Three Challenges and Tips on How to Overcome Them

Have you ever thought about going dairy-free? What would it be like to stop consuming milk, cheese and butter? What is your goal when making such a big lifestyle change?

Two weeks ago, I decided to cut out dairy from my diet, as much as possible. Living in Japan and not being able to read/speak Japanese, makes it challenging to know whether or not a dish/snack has dairy in it, but I am doing my best. This decision was a hard one to make but a change that needed to be made. I’ve pretty much have always had acne on my body. However, I’ve always equated it to stress or external factors. I’m not saying that those don’t play a part in my acne, but when I a little while ago I noticed my acne got worse.

Since I’ve been in Japan, I’ve developed an allergy to milk. If I have a little bit of milk, my sinuses flare up, my throat gets itchy and my stomach doesn’t feel well. The next day, I will get a breakout somewhere on my body. The tricky thing was when I ate cheese, ice cream or butter, I never had any of those initial reactions. However, I would have some kind of breakout. It didn’t matter what I used on my skin or how much I exfoliated, I would have a breakout.

Since going dairy-free, my skin has cleared up a lot. It’s not perfect but I wasn’t looking for perfect skin; I wanted manageable skin.

Before I went dairy-free, I didn’t do any research. I don’t recommend doing that at all. You should always do research before making major changes in your diet. If you are considering going dairy-free, here are some changes that might happen:

1. Hunger
Fat helps you stay fuller longer. Having some sort of fat in your meals allows you to digest your food slower. If you cut out those fats, you are going to get hungry faster.
Usually, I don’t eat a lot of fat nor do I cook with a lot of fat. I usually use grapeseed oil for most of my cooking, olive oil for certain meals and butter for baking. I did enjoy a nice ice cream sandwich from 7/11 or topping off dishes with cheese. When I stopped eating those foods, I was hungry. Now, I’m getting better at supplementing those filling ingredients with dairy/lactose free options. For example, instead of eggs with cheese, I’ll eat eggs with avocado and nutritional yeast.

Tip: Research good and satisfying foods/products that can help you during your transition.

2. Cravings
The first three days, I was craving ice cream. I wanted an ice cream sandwich from 7/11. I mean, it’s difficult to cut things out of your diet. If you do want to go dairy/lactose-free, be prepared to fight off the dairy demons telling you to buy that ice cream cone.

Tip: Look up come dairy/lactose free dessert recipes if you are craving something sweet and creamy.

3. Cooking/Eating Out
Cooking at home is fairly easy depending on how much you know about food. I cook almost every day and I know why foods with dairy taste and cook better than foods without. When you take away that dairy option, you have to start researching dairy-free alternatives that will achieve similar results.

Eating out can be challenging. I don’t eat out often, but when I do, especially now, I try to avoid foods that look like they might have dairy in them. If you live in a foreign country like I do and can’t read the language, Google translate will become your best friend. You can easily translate the ingredients on the back of packages to see if the food contains dairy.

Tip: Become acquainted with the local foods in your area. If you know how to make them, then you will know what to avoid.

Overall, going dairy-free has been a good challenge for me. It’s not easy but giving up anything isn’t easy.

Links to dairy-free articles:
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/dairy-free-diet-skin-effects
https://www.today.com/health/why-fat-your-diet-good-weight-loss-glowing-skin-t102800
https://www.health.com/nutrition/eliminate-dairy-diet?slide=467877#467877

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Running Week 6

I’m on week 6 of couch to 5k. I’m over halfway done with the app. Tuesday was my hardest running day so far. Do you ever just have one of those workouts where everything seems to go wrong? My compression socks weren’t on the right way, it was my time of the month and my phone wasn’t shuffling the playlist the way I had hoped. Despite all of these mishaps, I finished my run. One thing that running has taught me is how much of a self-motivator you have to become. When I first started the app, it was challenging but not so challenging where I feel like I couldn’t do it. Now, I am running for 6 minutes at a time with small breaks in between. For someone who has never ran before, that was no easy feat. It takes a lot to get out there every other day regardless of what is going on in life and run. Now, I know I can run. It’s not just some pipe dream that I used to have. I am making myself go out there and do it for thirty minutes three times a week.

Food: So, I said I was going to try to be a vegetarian. That didn’t work. Actually, I don’t think I ever want to be a vegetarian again. I don’t disrespect those who are vegetarians, it just isn’t for me, at least, at this time. At the age of 26, I’ve discovered how to balance what I eat and how much I eat. I love making vegan/vegetarian meals, but I also love eating sauteed beef and vegetables over rice. I’m learning how important it is to balance your diet and that cutting out certain foods means finding replacements. Personally, I don’t always want to be looking for a replacement.

What I ate this week: After Thanksgiving, I had to get my life back on track. I don’t usually drink alcohol but I drank because my friend was in town. I made a Thanksgiving meal full of butter, sugar and salt. This week, I have been eating more fish and more vegetarian meals. I’m limiting my caffeine intake to just one cup of coffee per day. My sugar hasn’t been easy but my cravings have lessened over the week. The amount of oil and butter used in dishes has been cut down.

Vegetarian pizza bread with fried tofu
Roasted beef with brown rice and veggies
Korean food from Yoshinoya
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Gochujang Fried Chicken Bites


Gochujang Fried Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings
3 people
Servings
3 people
Gochujang Fried Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings
3 people
Servings
3 people
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons Gochujang
Batter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp corn starch
Other Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2-3 cups frying oil vegetable or grape seed oils are fine
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, add the ingredients for the marinade and whisk them together.
  2. Next, whisk together the ingredients for the batter.
  3. Then, cut the chicken into small cubes. Salt the pieces, just a little, and put them in a bowl.
  4. Place the oil in a large pot or wok and heat it up. To know when your oil is hot enough, take one piece of fried chicken that is battered and add it to the oil. If it doesn't bubble up and fry, then wait a few more minutes for the oil to heat up.
  5. When the oil is hot, batter the friend chicken pieces and add them to the oil. Cook the pieces for about 5-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to move the pieces around the oil. You will know that the chicken is done when it is white.
  6. Finally, toss the pieces in the marinade and put them on a plate to serve.
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Running and Last Week’s Meals

Last week, I started using the Couch to 5 K app. I chose the Color Run Unicorn. In the past, I’ve tried running. Every time I’ve tried to run, I’ve made it about 3 weeks and then I stop. Usually, it’s because of knee
or hip pain. Most of that is due to me not stretching before I run. I know. You have to stretch and warm-up before you run.

Since I started using the app, I’ve found solace in running. The brisk fall breeze hitting my face as my Nike’s pound the pavement. I am able to think about more than what I’m going to do post-run. I can think about
the future and where/what I want to do next.

As I enter my second week of running, I’ve set some short-term running goals. My goals are to run four times this week (last week, I ran three times) and to run one time in the morning during my work week. I want to become a morning workout person, but I know that I need to ease into it.

Let’s talk about food. I’m trying to make the final switch to being a vegetarian. I love being a vegetarian. It’s great eating a lot of vegetables. I think that being a vegetarian is more fitting for me. Also, it helps me manage my weight. I’ve felt guilty after eating meat lately and I haven’t enjoyed the taste. However, I won’t be a strict vegetarian.

A black bean burger with roasted Dijon potatoes

When I travel to different places, I will probably eat meat. As a cook, I think it’s important to try as many foods as possible. Lastly, if someone invites me to their home and makes a dish with meat, I’m not going to turn it down. Honestly, unless you have an allergy or the food will make you sick, I think it’s silly to turn down food that someone has taken time to make you.

A vegan muffin and beet smoothie from the Asics cafe in Tokyo

Are you a vegetarian? If so, what do you like to cook and how often do you cook?

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