The Dairy Diaries: Part One , 0 Comments

By Susan Helmick I’ve been day dreaming about cheese; feta, jack, cheddar, goat... all day long cheese taunts me from other people’s plates and, just for funsies, occasionally sour cream and Greek yogurt join in. I never knew dairy products could be so maddeningly tantalizing, until I gave them up. On January 1st, in a fit of what can only be described as post flu delirium, I decided to give up dairy for a month. I’d read various theories about dairy restriction improving acne by eliminating hormones like testosterone contained in milk and related products which can stimulate oil glands in the skin. As someone whose oily skin was until recently somewhat controlled by the hormone regulation benefits of birth control, maintaining a clear complexion through diet and avoiding the antibiotics –akin to gastric napalm for me - often used to treat outbreaks, appealed not only to my vanity, but also to my digestive system.  Sinus problems, ear infections, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome are also often believed to be connected to dairy consumption and who wouldn’t want to discourage them! So how are things progressing? Well, I’m almost two weeks into my dairy experiment, and here’s what I’ve noticed so far:
  • Almost immediately I had more energy. Crazy amounts. An offshoot to giving up dairy was giving up a lot of the processed foods I was used to eating (where dairy reigned) and finally using the pots and pans I’ve thus far kept for appearances to make meals using fresh produce not found in microwavable containers.  It might be the first time in my life I’ve actually chopped and measured things that weren’t related to a hemline. If I haven’t cooked and prepared the food myself, or can’t eat it raw, it’s not in my kitchen. No pre-prepared, packaged foods means that fresh fruits and veggies, along with other proteins, have become staples in my diet and I’m no longer main-lining caffeine to get me through the day.
  • ·      My skin appears brighter and the melasma - a discoloration of the skin I’ve suffered from for years as a result of hormones present in birth control I was taking – seems to be improving as well. The condition was the primary reason I gave up taking birth control after more than twenty jkiyears, and no doubt its gradual correction is related to the elimination of the manufactured hormones from my system. However, my melasma’s overall appearance seems also to benefit from an omission of dairy and the hormones potentially present in such products. Bottom-line: I prefer my face not resemble a calico cat - cute as they may be -  so anything that helps my skin look more even is a step in the right direction.
  • My tummy troubles have reduced significantly. Many individuals are sensitive to casein in cow’s milk (of six major protein types in cow's milk, four are casein). Dairy sensitivity can result in digestive problems including gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. In fact, most of us naturally stop producing large quantities of lactase – the enzyme that metabolizes the sugar in milk – by age five, by which time most children have been weaned from breast milk.  And look, I get it, everybody poops (and passes gas) but I’d rather not have to be on sphincter patrol in Pilates class if I don’t have to.
  Coming soon…The Dairy Diaries: Part Two, Electric Buga…moo.