Most of us "healthy living" people have had to go to extra lengths of eliminating types of foods or food groups from our diet. I am no exception. I made the decision to give up dairy over 6 months ago. The reason: gas and painful, unpredictable bowel movements. Yep, I said it! I went there.
I'd been struggling with IBS since college. I was under the impression that my symptoms were from dorm food. College introduced foods that wasn't in my Latina culture. At home with Mom, I ate mostly rice, meat, beans, plantains, and salads with oil and vinegar; all were heavily spiced and seasoned. At college, I ate sandwiches on white bread, pasta, pizzas, fried stuff. Mind you, they did have healthy selections, but at 18-20, I had no clue what was best because I ate what my Mom made for me.
Fast forward 15 years and three children later, my body has undergone many physical changes, and intolerances have been the latest. I noticed after having Baby #3 that I had this huge gut that was so bloated and painful from gas. I was eating a lot of cereal with milk at the hospital. Cereal with milk was my number one comfort food. Of course, I didn't connect this to a milk intolerance until after a visit with the Doctor when I decided to train for a 5K.
I went to the doctor because I had a very bad episode when I couldn't make it to the bathroom while driving my 3 children home . . . I hope that is enough said. My children were distraught and worried for me. My doctor did a bunch of tests: celiac and thyroid. Not for lactose, though! All results were negative. She told me to increase my fiber by taking supplements, more water, walk and exercise. I'd already been doing the exercise. The fiber pills did help, with the exception of another episode. And that episode was enough to conclude it was milk.
So I cut dairy out of my diet. No milk. No cheese. No yogurt. No ice cream. And no butter. I switched to almond milk or rice milk. I no longer partake in eating pizza, lasagna, or any Mexican foods laden with creams and cheeses. And while I don't miss it. I do miss the convenience of making lasagna or eggplant parmesian and freezing for future use by the family.
I've had to get creative. I've made my own "ice cream", an example is on my header. I will post a quick recipe another time. I know there are soy cheeses and cream cheeses, but those are in the specialty stores, making it that much harder to quickly grab at the local market. Initially, it took a ton of conscious effort to remove dairy from my everyday food.
It has become simpler over time. And as much as I miss creamy soups or a milk shake, I know that the benefits are tremendous. I attribute a lot of my weight loss to going dairy-free. I am not uncomfortable with bloat or gas pain. It is all good.
Now, if only I could make sugar free, dairy free, chocolate chip cookies that tasted like the real thing, I would be a happy woman.