There are some things in life you shouldn’t have to give an explanation for, like going around a revolving door an extra time or two, or sleeping with your childhood stuffed animal. Just in case of a thunderstorm, of course. Going dairy-free is one of these things.
How to give up dairy products…maybe
Maybe you’re cutting out dairy products because you have an intolerance or an allergy, or maybe you’re trying to consume less animal byproducts. Maybe you’re doing a trial run to see if your skin or digestion improve when you’re not eating dairy. No matter why you’ve decided to go dairy-free, though, the most important thing isn’t why you’re doing so, but how you do it.
Eating with dietary restrictions isn’t easy. It takes work, and if you’re just starting out, it will definitely require some getting used to. This said, there are a lot of ways you can make it easier for yourself. Here are five things to remember.
Experiment with different products
The world is your oyster, and by extension, so are the dairy-free aisles in the grocery store. You’re totally allowed to pick favorites with the dairy-free products; they won’t get offended! There’s huge amounts of variation in taste – not just between brand, but also between base (rice, hemp, soy, coconut, almond) and flavoring too. If you don’t like a particular product, don’t be disheartened. Try another, and another, until you find one you enjoy. It’s out there waiting for you!
Fortify your life
Fortification is your new best friend – well, sort of. The two of you aren’t going to grab coffee or anything, but adding some fortification to your life is going to make you feel a lot better. It’s important to make sure that at least some of what you eat is fortified with the vitamins that regular milk contains. These include calcium and vitamin D (the latter being especially important, because it’s a much harder to get from food sources). It’s possible to have a vitamin D deficiency if you’re avoiding dairy, so be vigilant about working some D-containing foods like salmon or mushrooms into your diet.
Get comfortable asking – about everything
The best thing about eating food made by someone else is the fact that you didn’t make it. Of course that’s also the worst thing too. Unless you personally made something, you can never be entirely sure that there isn’t dairy in your foods, so it’s really important to ask, especially if there’s a possibility of added dairy (think cheese sprinkled on the top, soup with a cream base, or food that’s been cooked in butter). Will some people give you a hard time? Maybe, but don’t take it to heart. Different people have different preferences and needs when it comes to food, like most things in life. You’re completely entitled to use the phrase “Is there dairy in this?’” as often as you’d like.
Double-check your order
It’s not so much that people are trying to sabotage your dairy-free efforts as much as people are just people. People make mistakes! The person who takes your sandwich order or who makes your coffee might accidentally put a slice of swiss on your rye, or mishear that you want 2% instead of soy. So when ordering something dairy-free, check your cup markings, check your receipt, or check the inside of your sandwich right away, and definitely before you leave the establishment. If your order is wrong, it’ll be much easier to fix the mistake when you’re not five miles away.
Do your own baking
Life can feel pretty lacking without baked goods. Instead of mustering up the courage to face a dull and depressing cookie-free future, learn new ways to substitute different ingredients in for butter, milk, etc. There’s a handy little thing out there called the internet, and it contains thousands of dairy-free baking recipes and blogs that you can read and follow to start making your own safe and delicious baked goods. You’re guaranteed to find at least a few recipes that remind you of the real deal – and perhaps a few that are even better than the versions you remember.
Making any kind of modification to your diet can be a challenge. Fortunately though, there’s a huge array of options and tricks that you can use to make it easier. We can’t guarantee that you won’t miss dairy from time-to-time, but we can definitely confirm that you’re bound to find some alternatives that you really, truly enjoy.
- Serge Rozenberg, et al. “Effects of Dairy Products Consumption on Health: Benefits and Beliefs—A Commentary from the Belgian Bone Club and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases.” Calcif Tissue Int. 98: 1–17. Web. 2016.
- “Calcium/Vitamin D.” NOF. National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2017. Web. Accessed 10/26/17. Available at https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/.