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.

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