How to Go Dairy-Free: My 2 Week Dairy-Free Experiment
I did it! I went dairy free for two weeks! Did you know I am a lover of heavy cream and cheese? Me.
But I did it.
I wrote this blog post to talk about why I did it, how I did it, and the changes I saw. And I had some questions to answer!
Why I Did It
I wanted to see how my body would feel eliminating diary.
Since my pregnancy, I've developed significant bloating, and I mean significant, after eating specific foods. I'm talking complete discomfort and some pain. My stomach and pelvic area swell up and become rock hard and painful to the touch. I've had many tests done and after all of the tests, it's come down to food. To a reaction to something I'm eating. I've narrowed it down to grains now and I'm 99% grain free now, but I wanted to assess the impact after eliminating dairy.
My partner and I did the Whole30 protocol a few years ago and my partner saw huge benefits from it. He realized that dairy was actually causing nasal congestion and a runny nose! Weight loss was not the goal but he lost 10 lbs in a month by eliminating dairy.
The Whole30 protocol is an elimination of, among other things, dairy, grains and legumes for a limited time.
Since then, my partner has been dairy free. This is a huge motivator in our home to skip out on dairy, because cream and cheese is only on our grocery order for me.
So one day, when the cream ran out, I didn't add it to our grocery order.
I measured two variables during this experiment:
- How I felt
- Weight. This was out of curiosity and also something our Customer Friends were interested in.
The beginning stages - denial! If you are used to cream and cheese like me, this is a TOUGH experiment in the beginning. This is why identifying your why and prepping the grocery order is so important.
How I Went Dairy-Free
The number one thing for me to identify was what I was going to have INSTEAD of dairy.
Coffee and Cheese and Keto Chow. How could I live without dairy in my coffee? How could I live without cheese. I add melted butter to Keto Chow. This may sound dramatic but there's not that much to look forward to in lockdown during a pandemic.
Here is what I attacked first:
I tested a dairy free substitute for months! I had to find the right one for me which looks different for everyone and I was lucky to have access to all of Switch's products to test and try!
I didn't realize how many times a day I would open the fridge to snack on cheese. I made a list of replacements for cheese and snacks and added them to my grocery order.
3. Keto Chow Meal Replacement
The protein in Keto Chow meal replacements is milk protein isolate which is the first ingredient. I researched and found that milk protein isolate is relatively low in lactose. I decided for the purposes of this 2 week experiment to therefore keep Keto Chow as part of my meals (1 meal per day) but I switched the fat source to coconut oil.
If you want to do a true dairy free experiment, then you would have to eliminate Keto Chow. If I didn't see results from this experiment, then I would have tried this option. Luckily I did see great results by switching the fat source to coconut oil!
Tips, Tricks, and Substitutes
You need substitutes.
Substitutes for Cream
An incredible coffee shop owner told me that the best way to make a substitute for cream in your coffee is to make a blend of dairy alternatives to get the perfect creamy taste and texture. That's why some coffee shops call it their house made nut milk.
So we made out own nut milk blend! We used JOI almond AND cashew base and a coconut cream we tried and tested. Here's the recipe!
My partner uses this JOI blend and does not blend his coffee in a blender or with a hand blender, but I found I had to do it, especially as I was transitioning from cream!
The first week I used the actual blender but by the 2nd week, I was able to use a hand held blender which saved me time!
Here are some options for is what I used for cream in my coffee over the 2 weeks. These have become my staples! I add cacao because I like mochas!
- 4 TB of the JOI nutmilk blend AND 1 TB OMEGA Natural Cacao Creamer
- 4 TB of the JOI nutmilk blend, 1 TB OMEGA Original Creamer, 1-2 tsp of Philosophie Cacao Magic Protein
- 4 TB of the JOI nutmilk blend, 1 TB OMEGA Original Creamer, 1/2 - 1 tsp of Burlap and Barrel Morogoro Cacao Powder
If you don't have these Switch products in your pantry, here is what I would recommend:
- a blend of coconut oil and ghee
- a blend of cacao butter and coconut oil
- cacao powder
Substitutes for Cheese
- Avocado - Avocados were KEY! I ate a lot of guacamole and put avocados on everything from meat to salads.
- Swiss Cheese - lactose free. This was awesome for a snack or a grilled cheese sandwich.
- Dairy free dips - Search your grocery store aisle or the online stores for dairy free dips. One of our suppliers, Live Organic Food makes awesome dairy free dips and they really helped me with my cravings.
- Nut butters - Nut butters add some good fat and are perfect to pair with celery. You can find peanut butter at your local store.
- Bars - Bars that are dairy free are key to help with the snack cravings!
I have not found a substitute for cream cheese or sour cream so if you have one, please share!
Substitutes for Butter
Butter is a relatively budget friendly source of fat and we use it often for cooking. I did some calculations and found a store that I could get more budget friendly coconut oil and that is what I used for cooking.
I also stored any fat from cooking meat - bone broth, bacon fat and used that!
- Ghee - has a super high smoke point for cooking!
- Avocado Oil
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Bacon fat
- Fat from beef or chicken bone broth
Substitutes for Desserts
Yogurt and cream is big in my home because I love both with some berries, in chia puddings or cereal!
I use Cha's coconut cream - I find this coconut cream works best and has no fillers or preservatives. It's available at various stores in Canada.
I find the full cream great for chia puddings and easy desserts and of course, our coffee creamer! The Cha's whipping cream is absolutely delicious and we have our incredible whip bar recipe here if you'd like to check it out.
Substitutes for Keto Chow fat source
We typically use melted butter and warm water to make Keto Chow. I switched to coconut oil for 2 weeks and I have to say, I think it really helped my post pregnancy bloating and discomfort! I feel much better.
This was a huge win because I want to keep Keto Chow in my life - it's easy to make and saves me time in the kitchen for a meal a day.
I will continue to make Keto Chow with coconut oil (melted) going forward.
Results (and "Aha!" Moments)
My biggest surprise - I ended up loving the dairy free experiment.
After the initial "I MISS MY CREAM" and "I'M ALWAYS HUNGRY" why am I doing this - I started to enjoy the experiment.
How I felt - A noticeable reduction in bloating. Yay me! As someone who never struggled with bloating my entire life until post baby, I cannot tell you how important this development was for me.
Weight - I also lost 3 lbs in 2 weeks, adjusted for water weight. I was not expecting this. My bigger meals kept me full longer and per all my conversation with The Fasting Method, this gave me more snack free time which gave my pancreas a rest (no insulin response needed).
Skin - No change for me with my skin going dairy free. I wish I could provide more insight on this but I am not prone to acne (I know I know - I'm very lucky!)
Eating habits - I ate better. I was using cheese as filler foods because I was hungry! My meals were not substantial. So I snacked less and ate bigger meals. This was by far my biggest takeaway that I actually am hungry 2-3 hours after a meal because I was not eating enough! The downside to this is you need way more meal prep because I needed our meals to be more satiating and higher in calories.
Coffee actually tastes better without dairy. Cream sometimes hides the taste of coffee and I found dairy free creamers enhance the taste. This did take some getting used to but now I don't use cream in my coffee. When I do, it's a treat. Who am I?
In summary, I felt better! and I ate better! But I found the meal prep tough without easy snacks during the day.
Would I recommend this?
All of the yes.
I find it so interesting to experiment with different foods to see how your body feels. This is not about weight loss but figuring out what foods make your body feel good as one of our customers Mina always says.
I have reduced my dairy intake after this experiment but I continue to find the biggest challenge to be that I need to do more meal prep, make bigger meals to compensate for no dairy in the house. For this reason alone, I find it difficult to sustain long term even though I do see some great benefits.
What's in your pantry?
You may be more ready than you think!
If you'd like to do something similar, then do check your pantry if you have any SwitchGrocery foods.
Here is what I ate from our store!
Nut Milks - JOI Nut Milks are awesome! long shelf life, you add 1 TB of nut milk base to water, blend and you got nut milk!
Coffee Creamer - Omega Coffee Creamers are a blend of grass fed ghee, coconut oil and MCT oil and help make your coffee extra creamy and fatty!
Cacao - Burlap and Barrel Morogoro Cacao or Philosophie Cacao Magic to make your coffee into a mocha! You can add Cacao Magic to your coffee, but make sure to blend with a blender as there are cacao nibs!
Other add ins - Origin Vanilla salt and extract and Burlap and Barrel Royal Cinnamon
Nut butters - Munch Nut Butters (tropical, macadamia are my favourite!) and Fatso Peanut Butters
Snacks - Snacker Yogi for a crunchy snack alternative to cheese crisps or cheese puffs
Chocolate - Coco Polo dark chocolate. This is not 100% dairy free as it is made in the same facility as milk chocolate but it did the trick for me!
Bars - Keto Bars are vegan! did you know that?
Dairy Free Protein - Philosophie Cacao Magic and Green Dream protein are dairy free and whey free protein and for the 2nd week of the experiment, I made many chia puddings and desserts with Philosophie!
Dairy Free Bread - I love Legit Bread mixes and made them with olive oil or ghee. Delicious! The mixes are soy free, dairy-free, gluten free, nut free, and also school friendly. Some are AIP compliant! They also have an AIP dairy free cheese cracker mix which I loved!
Wrap Substitutes - Live Organic wraps are dairy free and plant based!
Meal replacements - Keto Chow! If you would prefer to do a full dairy free experiment, I would eliminate Keto Chow for a period of time. I would also recommend the base powder that has no protein and you can add your own!
I hope you found this super helpful!