Updated: Jun 24, 2019
The saying, “one size does not fit all” applies to most things, including dairy. I often get questions about if it’s ok to include dairy in our diets and the answer is, it depends. What I do know is that dairy is not inherently bad and should really be examined on a person to person basis.
The Simple Dairy Test
I know that sounds vague, but if you really want to know if dairy is ok for YOUR diet, there’s a simple test you can do and it doesn’t cost a thing. Try removing all dairy from your diet for 30-60 days then note any changes you’ve noticed. You might not notice them from just their removal because things you’ve lived with things like gas, bloating, acne and sinus congestion and they seem like a normal part of your life. So after the 30-60 days without dairy, reintroduce it to your diet and see what happens.
In my experience, what happens after reintroduction is not usually positive for most people and they decide they want to keep it out because they don’t feel too good with dairy in their diet. However, many, including me don’t notice any negative effects so they may opt to keep it in. This is a very simple test to figure out how your body reacts to dairy as many of us have been eating dairy since I were young and have never gone on extended periods of time without consuming it.
What does all this mean for you?
Start by asking yourself a few questions.
1. What matters most to me?
In making food decisions, you may be focused on longevity, or gaining muscle mass, or clearing up a health issue, or sustainable agriculture, or finding a convenient snack the kids will eat, or any number of other values, goals, and priorities.
You may like cheese so much you’ll eat it even if it gives you a stomach ache, because you’ve decided that life isn’t worth living without a good Camembert.
There’s no “right choice”. There are only choices that work more or less for you.
2. What works for me as an individual?
Your body is unique. Your life is unique.
You may tolerate dairy, or not. You may like it, or not.
It’s your call.
3. What fits into my routine and daily life? What do I enjoy?
Whether you’re feeding yourself, or an entire family, whether you’re a road bum or homebody, whether you’re in the Box twice or 5 times a week, your routine and daily life will shape your food choices.
Greek yogurt may stack easily in the office fridge; whey protein might be a convenient and portable sports supplement; a latte may fill you up when you’re on the go and can’t get solid food; goat cheese or Parmesan might help you enjoy a salad more, and so on.
There are many ways and reasons to consume dairy… or not.
4. What am I noticing about myself?
If you think you may have a dairy intolerance, start with the simple dairy test as described earlier.
5. What’s reasonable?
Be sane. Don’t get all hung up about finding the “perfect” choice or “following the rules”.
Simply try to find better choices (however you define them), where you can, and let the rest be.
If you can tolerate and enjoy dairy, moderate consumption (1 to 3 servings daily) is probably fine, especially if one or two of those servings are yogurt or other cultured/fermented dairy products, and if you consume that dairy in the context of a generally healthy diet.
I like to think of food choices as continuums rather than “dos and don'ts”. Here’s what it might look like for dairy:
If you're looking for more ideas about what to eat or guidance with your nutrition then please message or grab me at the Box whenever you see me.