The Dairy Challenge- What happens when you cut modern dairy out of your diet?
Please read through to the end for my challenge to you!
So, as you may know I say that I am ‘plant based’ as opposed to saying I am a vegan. I do this for many reasons. The most popular reason is that when folks hear the word vegan they think of the tree hugger, animal lover that is against the modern world as a whole. (We vegans know this is not true!) One of the other reasons I say I am ‘plant based’ is that I can’t say I am a diehard vegan, I converted to a plant based diet about 3 yrs. ago and I did it for health and training reasons, not for the animals (But, I will admit the animal welfare side of it is a nice side effect ;-) ). The reason I say I am not a diehard is because there are certain food items that I still crave and one of those is ice cream! So, from time to time after a hard workout or at a celebration, I will have some ice cream, usually in the form of a sundae with a lot of peanut butter and some sort of nuts on it. I know there is vegan ice cream but, in the moment, it just is not the same. I had one of these moments this past week as I took my fellow coworkers out for dinner after a long tradeshow week and for desert we popped into a local ice cream joint. They had vegan ice cream available, but it was made with coconut milk, that I usually find to be watery, so I went for the full-blown milk based ice cream. It was very good! (There is also the sugar side of ice cream that I will get into on another post.)
Dairy has an effect on me when I eat it and it has nothing to do with my bowls, like most folks think. So, I went home, went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night with a major case of ‘cotton mouth’ and feeling really achy. I chugged a glass of water and went back to sleep. I woke up in the morning and went through my normal routine of getting ready for my run and it hit me……… I had a migraine headache that just got worse the more light I was exposed to. If I was still drinking, I would say I had a hangover about equal to a long night of hard drinking. Damn dairy got me again! After going plant based every time I eat dairy I get this effect within 24 hrs. Also, each time it gets worse and I tell myself ‘never again’…………
The longer effect on me is that I feel sluggish, have a lot of flem and after my runs I feel achy. It takes about a week of clean eating for me to feel normal again.
When I first started the process of becoming plant based I remember listening to a Rich Roll podcast about how the human body cannot process modern dairy. During the interview they just kept coming back to saying that dairy inflames the body and in particular the immune system. I did not think much of it at the time, but did proceed to cut dairy out of my everyday diet. The hardest part was cheese! I love some good cheese and crackers. (It does not help that my other half works at Trader Joes and brings home very tempting seasonal choices!) After a few weeks, I could tell I felt better and there was something to it for me. My immune system was much better and today I can feel when my immune system is stressed and take care of it before it becomes a problem.
So I have to stay strong and avoid dairy. There are plenty of dairy replacements and in a lot cases they are healthier for you in more ways than one. I have found I like products made with almonds so this takes the place of milk and cheese for me. Those are the 2 big items for me even though I never was much of a milk drinker.
So how does cutting dairy out effect my running? I cannot say exactly, but I can say that it was part of my journey and continues to help me improve. When I do consume dairy I feel I am taking a step backwards in my training. I will never eat dairy on race week as I know it will slow me down. I also don’t understand how you can drink milk after a race? My mouth would feel like I was chewing on cotton balls!
I suggested to my other half that she drop dairy for her ongoing allergy (pollen/dust) problems and she claims she felt improvement, but not enough to give up dairy. It is tough to avoid dairy. Dropping dairy is not for everyone.
In prep for this post I tried to do research and see if there were studies to support one way or the other……. But what I found was that for every study that showed that dairy causes inflammation, there was a study that showed it did not. The only consistent thing I found was that almost 100% of the studies that showed that dairy does not cause inflammation were sponsored or written by someone in the dairy industry. Wonder why that is, LOL
So my challenge for you: Cut dairy out of your diet for 2 weeks and see how you feel! Then come back and post how you feel. If you have already done it, why did you do it and how do you feel?
Note: I do not have an agenda with this post, but want folks to learn about their bodies and what works for them. I do not make any claims other than what I have posted about myself and I am not a doctor.