Going Dairy Free... My Two Week Journey
For the past two weeks I have been kind of keeping a low profile, at least about what I have been eating. This journey of moving from a commercialized diet to one that is made up of simple, whole foods has changed my life. It has changed my family's life. Before we had standard Western diets and standard health issues. None of us went to the doctor very often, but we were sick more then than we are now. We had gut issues, digestive problems. Constipation ruled our worlds on at least a monthly basis. Not to gross anyone out, but I think most of us experience those issues, and it can just truly ruin your life! I shared last week that we had reached our one year anniversary of eating whole foods. It still doesn't feel like an entire year to me. It has been a journey, one that I am still willingly on.
Over a year, I have been experimenting with what happens to my body when I choose to eat a whole food (meaning a food that has limited added ingredients, is minimally processed, and zero synthetic ingredients) over a processed food. I still make mistakes. I think the major thing I am beginning to notice is that I know when I have made a mistake based on the food that I choose to eat. It's amazing how terrible you can feel after those cheat eats that make you realize cheat days are not worth it at all.
Two weeks ago I made the leap to stop eating dairy. I know - I posted just a week ago that I was hesitating. Can you tell that my blog posts are written in advance? Ha! This one, I am writing on Wednesday of this week, so here we are! I am finally beginning to realize how changing my diet really works for me. Before I was a cutting-it-cold-turkey kind of dieter. I would make up my mind, cut out a handful of foods from my diet, and make everything work like a chore. Eventually the system would fail, and I would cave. It usually happened when I was out to eat with my family or friends. When I was 17, I decided to go vegan. I've written about that before here. I did everything wrong. I ate manufactured meat substitutes (the frozen vegan burgers and chicken patties) and lots of bread, processed salad dressings, veggie chips, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That year of my life was lived on peanut butter and jelly. It was gross. I gained so much weight and acne! I bought everything labeled vegan at the grocery store because I thought it was healthier. There was no one to guide me. Eventually after one year of eating that way and having to go into the doctor after passing out several times, I learned I was suffering from iron deficiency anemia. I started adding more vegetables into my diet; I ate cheese and chicken again.
The only reason that story has any significance to where I am now is that I have kind of returned to a vegan diet. I no longer eat meat. I do still eat eggs. I still eat honey. So I cannot claim to be a vegan, but it's within that realm of diets. I kind of am in disbelief that with all of this talk about eating whole foods and supporting local meats and dairy, that I have returned to this place. It's not really about ethics as much for me anymore as it is about health and wellness and environmental issues that our planet faces. I stopped eating meat because of its impacts on our environment. That was my first food rule over six months ago. Dairy was next. For the past several months I have been feeling bloated, tired, angsty, and pimpled. I was hating myself, and my mind felt clouded.
I've been working myself up to cut out dairy for months. I have been watching others do so online and seeing their progress, losing the bloated and tired feeling, losing the acne, losing the puff. I was tired of feeling like there was always an extra 5-10 pounds of water weight on me, of feeling exhausted after eating a meal and stuffed full. I want to share this part of my journey with you because it wasn't cold turkey. It was not like I decided to wake up one morning and stop eating butter. It took me months to get here and convince myself to do it, talking over and over again about it in my mind. I stopped cooking so often with butter, I stopped having a dessert after my meals, I stopped putting cheese on things that didn't need it. I tried to find other snacks throughout my day than a piece of cheese from the fridge.
The thing that clicked for me was having a set of meals that I can have everyday that I already eat and love. It wasn't a chore or a punishment for me, it was a guide to allow myself to feel good about my choices. Does that make sense? I realized that I didn't really want to replace the things that had dairy in them. I didn't drink whole glasses of milk or eat yogurt. My big culprits were butter for making soups, pastries, and sweets as well as cheese for sandwiches, snacks, and garnishes. But those sandwiches never made me happy, and I didn't really enjoy eating them. I didn't have to replace meals when I had some amazing plant based ones that I already enjoyed!
I have been eating the same types of things everyday for the past two weeks and feeling absolutely amazing! I mostly am eating raw vegan throughout the day, and I have a cooked plant based meal at night. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and am trying to remember that veganism is not about substituting meat but about embracing all types of plants and plant proteins.
- Breakfast | Smoothies!
- My favorite blend: lemon juice, coconut milk, spinach leaves, banana, strawberries, blackberries, celery, and agave
- Lunch | Raw Veggies
- I usually have a salad with a homemade green dressing (sharing a recipe soon) or a cut vegetable plate with some hummus.
- Supper | Cooked Meal
- This consists of different things but is generally a soup, chili, stir fry, or noodle dish. I'll have some homemade bread or something if there's no other grain addition.
That's where we're currently at! It's been a lot easier than I expected. Tad has been eating this way with me as well. Meat and cheese are something that I have had to force him to eat since birth; I am feeling so much better about this already. We try to eat nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils every day/week. I felt like this was a topic to share and maybe give someone else hope that wants to move forward in their diet. Eating raw, or mostly raw, is one of the best decisions I have made! I feel like I am living every single day. It's amazing.