On Giving Up Dairy

[Which] protein consistently and strongly promoted cancer [in this research]? Casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake? The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy.

- T. Colin Campbell, The China Study

When I performed in St. Paul two weeks ago, I got to meet Heidi and Justin from Raw Food Right Now – a popular raw food blog. Typically, I don’t talk to anyone before I perform. But the three of us chattered away right up to my show time. It was a fun conversation. We were each so passionate about the shifts we’ve experienced in our moods and bodies from being vegan.

[Note: I call myself "Mostly Vegan" because I am not always vegan when I travel. I also very occasionally have a small portion of organic meat. Also, I'm not even close to being a raw foodie - but I prepare some raw meals.]

Heidi was clear that her objective is not about converting people to raw food or making them vegans. She and Justin both believe that each person has to make his/her own choices about food and lifestyle. Me too.

AND, as we talked, it was apparent that if we could be preachy about one thing, we knew what it would be. We agreed that this one dietary change had profound effects on our moods, weight, skin, and overall health. We talked about how we’d love to somehow convince people of the giant benefits of doing just this one thing. What is it?

Giving up dairy products.

Americans consume more cow’s milk and its products per person than most populations in the world. So Americans should have wonderfully strong bones right? Unfortunately not. A recent study showed that American women aged 50 and older have one of the highest rates of hip fractures in the world.

- T. Colin Campbell, The China Study

Heidi told a story about one of her business clients. She noticed he was sick all the time. He was always congested, coughing, and lethargic. After one of their meetings, they ended up talking about health and diet. Heidi asked her client what he ate on a daily basis. He told her that he ate ice cream every single night before bed. She suggested that he try one dietary change: Cut out the ice cream. Two weeks later, Heidi received a big bouquet of flowers from this client. The note thanked her for changing his life. His health issues had disappeared.

Men with the highest dairy intake had approximately double the risk of total prostate cancer, and up to a 400% increase in risk of metastatic or fatal cancer.

-T. Colin Campbell, The China Study

I rarely talk about how I choose to eat. There’s enough confusion and skepticism out there, and I don’t want to add more “should’s” to anyone’s list. Occasionally, however, someone will ask me about being vegan, or about how I stay healthy. I’m happy to talk about it when someone asks. (Sometimes, people get confrontational about it. They want to pick a fight. This always strikes me as odd, since I don’t feel particularly agenda-ish about being vegan.)

When the discussion turns to dairy, the reaction is often a horrified look. “I could never give up cheese!” I understand the sentiment. Dairy products are the staple “comfort food” for many people. In my first years working with an acupuncturist for my health/eating disorder issues, I was encouraged to give up dairy. The best I could do was to stop eating ice cream, and shift to only organic dairy products. (In Chinese medicine, ice cream is considered one of the worst foods to consume.)

Fast forward to early 2006. I listened to the audio book version of The Way We Eat, and soon after, I made the choice to go “mostly vegan” simply because it was becoming harder and harder to trust what “certified organic” meant. I felt ready. At the time, I didn’t think of the choice in terms of health benefits. I just don’t like many of the practices of the food industry.

The first two months without dairy were the hardest. I had bouts of grouchiness and moodiness. I was emotional, and I couldn’t reach for my favorite palliative food – melted cheese. This made me angry. (It was actually kind of funny.)

After two months, the cravings ceased. Then I felt completely normal. In fact, I felt really good. In the past year, my health has improved so much that I’m certain I’ll never go back to eating dairy…even the organic stuff. Here’s a list of the health shifts I’ve experienced since I (mostly) stopped eating dairy over a year ago:

  • No more zits. I used to have regular break-outs on my forehead. (When I have had dairy on the road, I’ve come home with zits.)
  • All PMS symptoms are completely gone. This includes massively sore breasts and huge emotional outbursts the day before onset. (I still have occasional weepiness though!)
  • I lost about seven pounds in a few months. (I also work out regularly when I’m not traveling – so there are other elements involved in my weight loss.)
  • I haven’t gotten a cold or sore throat in over a year. (They used to be a quarterly event.)
  • I’m less emotional.
  • I never feel like I’m “giving up” any kinds of foods. I delight in vegan dishes. It feels completely normal.

There’s one drawback:

I’m more sensitive to processed foods and road food. This makes it a little harder to recover from road trips. If I do have a meal with dairy in it (there are times on the road where it just happens – and I don’t have the energy to find an alternative meal), I will often break out within a few days, and PMS symptoms will return that month. I haven’t experimented enough to know how much of this is just the stress of travel. It’s just what I’ve noticed. Other vegans I’ve met have had similar experiences.

Americans have weak bones not because they drink too little milk but because they drink too much, Campbell says. Animal protein, such as the protein in milk, makes blood and tissues more acidic, and to neutralize this acid, the body pulls calcium, which is a very effective base, from the bones. Because dairy products contain substantial amounts of animal protein, drinking milk actually robs the bones of calcium, he says. The more meat and milk Americans eat, he says, the more calcium they need to consume to process that protein.

- LA Times on The China Study

I recently listened to The China Study in audio book format. (I often start books in audio, then I go back and read them for more detailed information.) As you can see from some of the quotes in this article, the China Study research revealed that dairy protein is a block to health. The book has also convinced me to eliminate even the small amount of organic meat that I have been eating. I highly recommend reading it.

Two final notes about eating:

1 – One of the key tenets of The China Study is that a whole foods plant-based diet is of utmost importance. Many of the vegetarians I’ve met in my life are what I call “potato chip vegetarians.” French Fries and cokes are vegetarian, yes. But they’re not healthy. Before I considered becoming vegan, I had already fallen in love with dinners of lightly steamed veggies and rice. I taught myself how to eat simply and healthfully.

2 – One of the reasons I’m not rigid about how I eat is because perfectionism is a surefire way to ruin your emotional health. If eliminating dairy, or being vegan, or any other shift in your diet doesn’t feel do-able, then don’t go there. Some people can use this kind of information as another way to beat themselves up. I’ve chosen to shift my diet in this way because I’m at a point where my old food addictions and eating disorders are no longer an issue. Still, I watch my own perfectionistic tendencies. And I go easy when I’m traveling. Give yourself some time to feel into this choice. And remember to go slowly.

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Comments

  1. says

    I have found that the comfort food aspect is the most difficult part of the idea of giving up cheese for me. I’ve been vegetarian for a while now, and giving up meat was fairly painless. I love eating healthy whole grains and lots of veggies, and have found I love soy milk and soy ice cream for a treat, so giving up milk and ice cream is not a problem, really.

    But cheese still remains an issue on the basis of the idea of “comfort.” Mom’s lasagna. Macaroni and cheese after a really long day at work. Pizza with lots of gooey cheese.

    How did you get through those two months until it became easy? With giving up meat I didn’t have any cravings at all, but if I go more than 2-3 days without something with cheese, I cave. And yet, a large part of me wants to. I disagree with the dairy industry, and I know the health benefits and want to be healthier, but somehow I keep being unable to take that step.

    Being vegan is even on my vision board, and still, mental shifts don’t seem to be working the way they do with my writing and working out and finances and other ares I’m trying to consciously create.

  2. says

    Recently at my dad’s job, they have a group of specialists performing a study on some of the overweight workers who are diabetic. It’s a volunteer study and my dad signed up for it. Basically, they want to see if veganism can reverse diabetes. The study is based on a book called “Reversing Diabetes”. My dad has been on this for about 6 weeks now and he’s lost a fair amount of weight around his waist. Although he still is taking insulin, he is going to continue to be on this diet because he likes how he feels and believes that it will reverse his diabetes.

    Since Diabetes runs on both sides of my family, I am transitioning into becoming a vegan myself. One of the hardest things for me right now is to give up diary. It’s easy for me to drink soy milk, but I love cheese and ice cream. I am determined to be healthy though and since I am not a growing child and I know what fats from animals can do to a person, I will eventually give up dairy altogether.

  3. says

    I find this obsession with milk as a healthy food highly irritating. German adults don’t drink milk, well most don’t but when I tell people that my son doesn’t get it they look at me as if I were cruel.

    Decades ago I have been a vegetarian for eleven years but then I found that I actually am feeling better when eating meat.

    But your list of reasons to give up dairy sounds very persuasive. To be rid of PMS might be worth it.

  4. says

    I can’t vouch for how healthy this product is, but I found this link not 2 minutes after reading this post from Christine, so I thought I would share it:

    http://fitsugar.com/452161

    As far as giving up on dairy, I still have acne even though I am 37 years old, and although I could give up milk and coffee creamer, the thought of giving up cheese makes me very scared… ;)~

  5. says

    hi charity, hmmmmm — firstly, it sounds like you’re doing really well – and that you have lots to be proud of yourself for… if the cheese thing is one of those last and final things you want to let go of, then make it your ONLY goal for, say, a week. try it for one week. and when you have those macaroni cravings (yes, i know them well), don’t try to rush around and get other things done. instead, be nice to you and sit with that feeling of craving. cravings can be great teachers. it will pass. (and let yourself be grouchy. i sure did!) let me know how it goes!

    tiffany – there are some interesting insights in the china study about diabetes. i can swear to you that it does become easier after that first month. i’m pretty clear now that food can be so much about habit and addiction.

    hey susanne! yes, it’s wild to actually get my period and be surprised! it used to be that 10 days in advance, i’d begin with symptoms. what you write about other people’s opinions is true – people are very tied into the belief that milk is the only source of calcium. i learned a long time ago that a plate of green leafy veggies has more calcium than several glasses of milk! there are lots of myths surrounding milk and dairy – most of them were created by the dairy industry.

  6. says

    I’m not remotely vegan, but I don’t eat dairy beyond a small amount of ghee in certain recipes. I used to live on cheese and ice cream, but giving up dairy has been a great decision. I lost weight and I stopped having skin problems (acne, itching, rashes) and stomach pain.

    It wasn’t as hard as I expected and I don’t miss dairy much. All the things I thought I couldn’t do without seem trivial now. No cheese on my tacos means I use guacamole. No cheese on my pizza means I get a bit of extra sauce and toppings. Instead of ice cream, I occasionally get whole fruit sorbet. Instead of having cheese on sandwiches and salads, I get sliced avocado. I can’t eat soy now and have my doubts about the healthiness of soy, but you can make a decent lasagna with tofu instead of ricotta, and the best “cheesecake” I ever had was actually made with tofu.

    At any rate, giving up dairy was so much easier than giving up sugar!

  7. says

    aaron – thanks for the link! and good morning! i’m going to post a list of my favorite dairy substitute items. (rice dream has a few good things in the ‘icecream’ dept!)

    hi kate – thanks for sharing your experiences. it’s good for others to read and know. i am the same way about guacamole and avocado. now – when i go to chipotle on the road, i get the black bean burrito with no cheese – but LOTS of guac. but oh man – don’t get me started on sugar. (green life grocery store, here in asheville, makes the BEST vegan chocolate sheet cake. i was SO bummed to find it!)

  8. says

    Christine,

    Just want to echo the benefits of giving up dairy for some people. I was diagnosed with moderate asthma in my late 20s and since my mother died during an asthma attack, I’ve been pretty darn vigilant. Traditional meds did little to really help in that I felt they weren’t attempting to get at the problem’s source. I finally worked with a naturopath a couple of years ago and the first thing she did is test me for food allergies. Dairy was a big culprit. I cut it out of my vegetarian diet and my asthma is essentially gone…I’ll occasionally have a mild attack when I’ve got a cold, but I use no other meds for maintenance anymore. My story isn’t going to prove true for every asthmatic out there, but cutting dairy has been a lifesaver for me.

    Now a question for you: I travel a great deal too and it’s hard to be a healthy vegetarian on the road (I’ve been veggie for 24 years). If you have any tips that have helped you along the way, I’d be grateful! And forgive me if you’ve covered this already in a post I missed.

  9. says

    hi tammy, thanks for your story. that’s great to know! as far as road travel goes — there are two things that make up the challenge for me. 1) availability of healthy foods. and 2) when i travel, i am out of my routine, and i can get lonely and lost in my head. those two things combined make up my particular challenge. this is why i keep my trips short now! when i have to do long trips, i find out where the local co-ops are, or where whole foods is. i stock up on bananas and avocados. i bring small packages of soy milk. raw almonds. when i toured with the ballet company, it was easy because i was on a tour bus – so i could really focus on eating well (as opposed to finding my way!) when i’m on my own, the emotional factor comes in. i look for Qdoba and Chipotle for black bean burritos. but Taco Bell seven layer burritos “no cheese, no sour cream” is often where i have to go. i bring either Ezekiel cereal or my own buckwheat groat cereal (i make it in the dehydrator after i sprout it) – so breakfast is always easy. lunch can be avocado – or raw food sprouted bars. (think power bar – only healthier.) you can get them at any good natural foods store. dinner is tricky. chinese mixed veggies with tofu – no msg. lots of green tea. if i can find kombucha somewhere, i’m a happy gal! and that’s it. but through all this rambling, i need to emphasize that i’ve had some very bad food situations on road trips this summer, and i’ve resorted to coke and fries at mcdonalds simply because i was so sick to my stomach that nothing else would help!

  10. Caren says

    I have no doubt that my diet needs to change, and I’m making those change… baby step by baby step. I was vegan a few years ago, so learned to *love* pizza with no cheese, rice milk instead of cow milk, etc. I didn’t use butter then, but in those intervening years, I’ve gotten WAY into baking – and I only use real butter. Nothing else is real butter. I’m not vegan now, but should I take that step – I will be “mostly vegan” except for butter. :)

  11. Colin says

    Did a little lightweight research on T. Colin Campbell and he appears to be the real thing. Unfortunatly, a few websites about him and his book attempt to shift the focus of the American diet to a “conspiracy-by-the-evil-advertising-lords” ( ya gotta ask yourself though,”who has the bigger lobby, wheat or cheese?”) instead of focusing on the quality of reaserch and potentially explosive health benefits. In any case, check out BBC America Health Channel (I think?) on Sept 17th. It’s called “The Truth About Food”. I have no idea if it’s the truth or not, but see if any of it checks out with Campbell. By the way, did you notice in the responses to theis subject that the text is longer and in some detail? Seems you have come upon a subject that is truly essential to many people’s quality of life.
    Colin

  12. Sylvia says

    As a practicing scientist, I find any sort of study which blames one food group for a large variety of ills suspect. The reality is there are no bad foods—people eat them in wrong proportions. There are studies which promote the value of dairy. I would never advocate anyone giving up one particular food group, instead I would suggest moderation AND MORE EXERCISE!

    I don’t eat a lot of ice cream–but I think once in awhile is fine. Life is too short to not enjoy.

  13. says

    hi caren, my time off was amazing. thanks! and remember — no shoulds with diet! that just makes it become a burden – and no fun. only wants! :-) (i’m not yelling. just making sure you don’t use this against yourself…)

    hi colin – yes, that’s the thing about the china study – t. colin campbell is the real thing. and he expresses his own doubts as he conducted all this research. i have lots of beliefs about the lobbying power of the food industry and all of the money that goes into feeding us false info. but i am not the one to write about that topic. campbell does devote a chapter to it in the book. no surprises though.

    hi sylvia – i hear you. i think you’d like campbell’s approach in this book though. he says exactly what you write about here. and i’m with you on the “life’s too short” thing. however, i no longer feel like i’m denying myself with icecream. (my motto there would be: life’s too short to spend this night with stomach cramps! but that’s just me.) thanks for your thoughts.

  14. says

    Dear me, I have been quite confused for a while now about food. Vegetarian, vegan, organic, local … I just finished reading Nina Planck’s book “Real Food” in which she describes the health benefits of raw, unhomogenized milk and dairy products, as well as grass-fed beef (in combination with lots of fresh fruits and veggies). Nina was vegan for many years, and then became healthier and lost weight when she started eating whole animal products again.

    I wonder what kind of milk they tested in the China Study? Skim, 1%, 2% or full-fat? Homogenized? Pasteurized? Nina points out that there are a lot of different kinds of milk, and that many of the problems with food these days are caused by industrial processes of production, and not the foods themselves.

    But then I hear vegans and vegetarians describing the health benefits of their diets, and I really do believe that those eating habits work for them.

    I suppose it comes down to doing what is right for oneself, from a health, lifestyle, and money perspective. I can’t afford grass-fed beef, and raw milk is illegal in Ontario. I have a toddler, and it’s much easier to make sure she gets the proteins and nutrients she needs for growth by giving her milk and meat. And my husband would never give up cheese and yogurt. So I buy organic dairy products and plan meals around veggies and whole grains as much as possible.

    I’m glad you wrote about your decisions about milk, though, Christine. It may be just what someone else needs to hear, and the previous commenters seem to agree with your experience. I just wanted to add the alternate perspective.

  15. says

    alisong – all the details about the research are included in the book itself. i don’t think that the pasteurized issue is considered since they tested just the protein cells. i agree with you that each person has to choose for herself. and it never helps to be confused. my path of food choices has been a slow one. the only way to know about dairy, for instance, is to try eliminating it for two months of your life. and see how you feel. that way, you get the hands-on benefits. (or not!)

  16. says

    I am not even “mostly vegetarian”.. but I am allergic to cow’s milk and have given it up. It makes it difficult sometimes when eating out with friends, but I’ve found the benefits of avoiding cow’s milk to be significant.

    OK. I occasionally indulge in a little sheep milk or goat’s milk cheese. Not a lot.

    Still, I’ll try once again and point some of my “milk/cheese must be part of all menu plans” friends to this post. Maybe they will eventually get the hint?

  17. says

    hi debra, i occasionally get the “shock and horror” looks from people about dairy. but it’s just cuz so many people have been programmed to believe that it’s the only source of calcium. i don’t try to preach. i just gently explain what i’ve learned over the years! (and the social aspect of food is one of the things that stopped me from being a raw foodie — i figured i’d never go out again if i limited my intake that much!)

  18. Caren says

    Yes – and how did that come to be? I came to veganism through just thinking about it – WHY do humans believe they need a baby cow’s food to be healthy? We’re not cows. And even baby cows stop drinking cow’s milk at some point – and they’re not sickly, skinny animals. It’s kinda bizarre. Does any other animal drink anyone’s milk past infancy? I don’t think anyone does – unless some human gives the milk to them, that is. Strange.

  19. says

    Great article. I love it when people are relaxed about their choices because it means others are more likely to listen and be interested.

    I loved milk, drinking usually about a pint a day.

    Until I read about it’s production.

    Then I switched to soy, and haven’t looked back.

    There are so many ways to eat, it does get confusing… but just a willingness to explore what feels right for you makes all the difference.

    As does asking yourself, WHY am I eating this? Craving or hunger? And HOW will I feel afterward? Disgusting or sated?

    Much joy,
    KL

  20. says

    caren – well, food in general can be funny when you think about it. whenever i’m eating a “smart dog,” I think to myself, “wait a minute. the whole point of being vegan is to show that you don’t subscribe to the idea of eating meat — so why are we making effigies of the very things we don’t want to eat??” oh well! smart dogs are pretty yummy!

    thanks k-l – great points. and great questions to ask about eating. sometimes even when the answer is “disgusting,” i can keep going – especially if i’m on the road! :-)

  21. says

    I am pretty new to the healthy way of eating thing and I am far far from vegetarian or vegan. After being diagnosed with type II diabetes a few years ago I cut out all raw sugar from my diet and had many of the same health benefits that you mention with cutting out dairy. My comfort foods shifted from ice cream to cheese – high in protein; low in carbs and fruit and fish and chicken. I am not sure that with my carefully (most days) balanced carb versus protein versus natural sugars (fruit etc) that I could cut out all dairy. Something to think about and do more research on. Thanks for the post definitely interesting to me.

  22. says

    hi michelle – the china study has an entire section about diabetes – maybe you can go to a barnes and noble, cuddle up on a big couch and read a little of that part. it might shed some light. it was great for me to hear since i know several people with diabetes. good for you for giving up sugar and taking care of your health. i know it’s a challenge to do that – and i applaud you for your shift!

  23. says

    Hi Christine!
    I have been “mostly vegetarian” for 5 years. I share your approach to food choices…I eat what feels right for me. The only meat I miss is barbecue chicken, and I’ve found that it’s the sauce that I want and NOT the chicken. So I use the sauce anywhere I would use ketchup. I also now eat wild salmon 1-2 times a week because of the health benefits. I suggested to my doctor that I just take some supplements and was asked if I wanted to be like “most Americans” who take a pill for symptoms!! Horrors! My need for the goodness in the salmon is based on my bloodwork and not a guess, so I eat salmon. It was really weird at first, but I’m OK with it now.

    However, this same doctor believes that the only way to eat is to eat lots of meat and veggies, eat very little fruit, no milk, no grains. He is very strong in his recommendation that this is the only way all humans need to eat….so he has lost a lot of credibility for me. I don’t do well with someone who is so “militant” about choices. We all have our individual needs and bodies that respond differently to what we consume. I agree with the folks above who have said that there is no one “right” way to eat, and no “bad” foods. (hhhmmmmm, except maybe artificial sweeteners, but they are chemicals and not food!) I like what Hippocrates said about food being medicine. Eat in a healthy fashion (however that looks for the individual) and health will follow.

    Another aspect of eating is that if someone believes that a particular food is bad for them, then it will be.

    I was off all wheat and milk for 2 years and they gradually returned to my diet. But not consuming milk products is something that I have been pondering doing…again. My blood tests do not show any sensitivity to milk, but when I do cleanses and exclude them from my diet I just feel better….after I get over craving them! (It only takes me a week to lose the cravings…unless I smell the pizza!) And I gain weight when I eat cheese in particular. So thank you for a timely article!
    Pam

  24. says

    Hi Christine,
    Many people have an allergy to milk and other dairy products and I have to agree with Sylvia about the moderation part.

    I grew up on a Dairy and drinking milk straight from the cow was common. I did not drink processed milk until I was 16 years old. Milk has never caused me any health problems. Sugar is a bigger culprit in my mind. Although sugar has not caused me health issues directly, it can cause a lot damage like Bad teeth, weight gain, hyper activity.

    In general, I think any processed food can present a health risk to us in the long run.

  25. says

    hi chickiepam – the word “militant” is a good one. it does sort of come down to your own intent and motivation. i find that the energy of anorexia can come into play for lots of folks who have strict rules about eating. but i can also meet someone else who has the very same “rules” – yet they aren’t anorexic about it. they just happen to know what’s right for them. it sounds like you’re on that path!

    thanks for your thoughts carma dutra. i agree with you on the processed food thing. when i began healing bulimia, the first thing that changed in my diet was that i started creating my own meals. no processed food. i didn’t design it that way. it just happened naturally – and i think it played a huge part in my health.

  26. Chris says

    Good post Christine. My journey took me from being vegetarian, to vegan , to about 90% vegan. When eating out, I will eat the occasional dairy, and sometimes we’ll get a pizza (about once a month, maybe). But at home we replace cheese, milk, yogurt, and ice cream with their soy equivalents. The reason I’m not 100% vegan is that for me personally, its too difficult. I’m thin and have a high metabolism, so I need my calories – if there is no vegan option, I just do the best I can. But I do know that if I have a vegan meal, I won’t feel like crap afterwards.

    On soy cheese: To be honest, the majority of soy cheese out there tastes like total crap – except for one brand: Vegan Gourmet. If any of you are not feeling soy cheese, give that brand a try – I’d recommend the mozzarella. In terms of texture its a little more “melty” than regular cheese but tastes great. We make delicious vegan pizzas from scratch all the time.

  27. says

    I wanted to jump in and add my comments as another Sylvia (though not a practicing scientist, by any stretch of the imagination!).

    I can’t help but feel a little upset, too.

    How is it that milk can be so unhealthy, and yet it is pushed and pushed and pushed (media?) as something we need and must have (kids and especially women!)?

    Like I said, it upsets me. And I am left thinking: what should I believe? Of course, no offense to you, or the China diet book.

    Sigh.

    I suppose I will agree that moderation is the best route (when in doubt), and when you are in no mood to give up the food which you enjoy.

    Thanks for the article,

    Sylvia C.

  28. Courtney says

    After reading you post and subsequently other articles on the subject I am seriously considering giving up milk. I have allergies, headaches, skin problems, moodiness, etc. If giving up dairy can cure or at least reduce these ailments I’m for it. I love milk and cheese but I think I can get over it just as I got over soda last year. I noticed an improvement in my health without soda and it only took two weeks to get over the cravings. Thanks for the info!

  29. says

    I sometimes give up cows milk for a while to ease phlem and other times I don’t. It all depends on how I feel about milky coffee! What I have found is that sheeps milk yoghurt doesn’t give me any symptoms and tastes utterly delishious.. but I find it very hard to come across. The key is learning to listen to your own body and make your own choices.

  30. says

    hi chris – one of the things i notice is that it’s kind of hard to occasionally have a pizza – it doesn’t settle well anymore. and it’s not worth the feeling afterwards. do you get like that too? i’m curious. i actually love soy cheese. soy kaas (i think) is my favorite. it’s good and melty.

    hiya sylvia – no offense taken. as far as food choices – ALWAYS trust your own insides. but definitely do some extra research and go with what feels right. if something feels squirrelly – then trust that! i have heard lots of accounts about the dairy industry and other food industries that have mega amounts of money – and that they do have a big say on how to generate “nutritional information” for the public. there’s a lot of good info on this stuff in the china study. it’s worth checking into.

    hey courtney – check back in with me if you do decide to make this leap. let me know if you have shifts in the stuff you wrote about. i’d be very curious. thanks for writing!

    m – i’ve heard people say the same thing as you about goat’s milk. (and yes, milky (creamy) coffee was a hard hard hard thing to give up at the time!)

  31. says

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  32. says

    Thank you for this post, Christine. I have a gluten-free diet and have been told to avoid soy since it’s almost as allergenic as wheat. I was dairy free for six months while trying to get back in control of things. Your post reminded me of how much better I felt back then when I was 100% dairy free. The cheese is the big lure, but it never feels good later. I’m inspired.

  33. AJ says

    Hi Christine,
    I know I am a little ‘behind’ in commenting here, and of all your recent posts, I don’t know why I am inspired to speak on this one!
    Perhaps it’s because food is such a fundamental part of our days and our lives. It’s fascinating how different people approach it. Of course we all need a ‘balanced’ diet, but what balance works for you, is of course different from the balance that works for me. Personally, I do not have a sweet tooth (whew!) and can’t remember the last time I had ice cream, but of course I have my own list of foods that are hard to resist (including cheese….and roast potatoes).

    I think the main realization I have had in recent years, is that I am not ok with eating processed, manufactured, or inferior food. I want local, organic, fresh food. I want every meal to be a pleasure – I want it to affect all my senses. I love to cook and I love to browse the farmer’s market and I love to know the name of the guy who grows my collard greens. When I have cheese, I literally breath it in and taste the flavor and the texture and all of it – consequently, I cannot imagine buying processed American cheese, because it has very little texture or flavor. There are so many wonderful, handcrafted cheeses, why settle? Same with all food. And the tomatoes from my garden are sooooo much better than the 2 week-old tomatoes from California that you find in most supermarkets.

    And I really appreciate your stance on eating and choice. I know some very healthy vegetarians and some very unhealthy vegetarians – so of course, it has nothing to do with the ‘label’ you put on your cuisine, and everything to do with being in balance with your own body’s needs and using common sense about what and how to eat (and where possible, avoiding all advertisements for anything).

    Anyone for a Twinkie?

  34. says

    I’ve had to give up cow’s milk because an allergy to one of the proteins. I can tolerate small amounts if I haven’t had a cold in a while, but not much or often. I still occasionally have sheep or goat’s milk cheese, but that’s it. It’s amazing how intolerant of this friends can be (though their allergies are all important). It’s been almost 15 years, so I can’t say what effects it’s had, except that I don’t get bronchitis and pneumonia every winter.

    I’m slowly moving into a “flexitarian” diet: simple vegetarian food most of the time, and a small portion of chicken or fish a couple days a week. (my trainer wants more protein on days that push weights). I’m taking it slowly and learning to enjoy simple steamed or roasted veggies and brown rice or whole grain mixes. If I take my time making changes, I believe that they will “stick” longer and have a better chance of becoming permanent. The hard part is cooking for a spouse who refuses to accept the changes I’m making. (sigh)…

  35. Meagan says

    Ok, so I have a 10 month old baby, and my doctor is telling me that I need to start introducing milk products into his diet. I’ve never been a fan of milk, or dairy, (except cheeeeeeeese) – but I’m at a loss as to what he is supposed to eat/drink to maintain a healthy body. The doctor says I should start him on whole milk – so he gets the fats. What can I replace that with?

  36. says

    meagan – i don’t want to be the voice that goes against the doctor – and not because i’m scared to. (i disagree with him wholeheartedly.) i believe that you need to get to a place where you firmly know how you want to approach your child’s health. i highly recommend reading (or listening to) The China Study. (You can click on the bottom icon in my right sidebar – that takes you to audible.com – they have an unabridged version. it’s very easy to listen to.) when i was a nanny for a dairy free baby, i used to steam leafy green veggies, puree them, add a little olive oil – and he loved them. that kind of thing is done all the time. (I know lots of moms who don’t have medical doctors for their kids.) christianne northrup’s website (drnorthrup.com) has all kinds of resources about this kind of thing. she is an m.d. – and it might be easier to hear her take on the whole thing!

  37. says

    Hi Christine,

    Wow, I found the post! I wanted to leave this comment here, so that anyone wondering whether to bother or not will know….

    I want you to know that as a result of this post I bought “The China Study”.
    Because of reading “The China Study”, I bought & read “The Food Revolution” by John Robbins.
    Then I bought “Eat to Live” by Dr. Furhman
    On September 25, 2007, I became a vegan. Joining me on October 1, my husband did, too.
    We approached it as a 30-day trial. We knew after 2 to 3 weeks that this was like a miracle. We’ve lost weight, eliminated pain in joints, cleared skin issues, removed menopausal symptoms, and felt more energy as a result.
    It’s now over 6 months for both of us. I LOVE eating this way, as I am learning of new foods all the time, and eat way more of a variety than ever before.
    The changes touch the spiritual as well. I feel more conscious now and more aware of life.

    So, thank you. What you do creates ripples you might never know about, but I am grateful for being able to share this with you.

    Love,
    Joy

  38. Sj says

    A few friends of mine went vegan some time ago, and started contemplating eating meat again after about six months. They were complaining of “feeling weak” on a 100% plant based diet. Based on my grandmother’s advice, I suggested they incorporate 1-2 tablespoons of ghee (made from local organic butter) into their diet. They did, and reported feeling much better.

    Ghee is casein free and may provide many of the as yet unnamed micronutrients people crave from eating meat.

  39. says

    Highly impressed, discovered your webpage on Yahoo!.Happy I finally tried it out. Not sure if its my Chrome browser,but sometimes when I visit your site, the fonts are really small? Anyway, love your post and will check back.Bye

  40. Julie Dufaj says

    Re: eating dairy.
    I thought I’d just add my experiences so you can have the information. I am 60 years old and extremely healthy. I literally NEVER get sick. I don’t have mood swings. I do have the occasional pimple. I have been exposed to the flu and every other virus you can think of without catching it. My blood pressure is 118/70. I can out-walk my 20-year-old daughter.

    Dairy foods are the mainstays of my diet, along with wheat products (whole grains). I am not contradicting your experience. I am mentioning mine because I find it very difficult to find convincing any evidence against dairy because of my own great health. I don’t know whether I’d just be even that much healthier without dairy, whether only some people are sensitive to dairy, or whether it’s not really dairy that is the problem. I read lots of nutrition books, but one controverts the other, so what should we believe? (Again, not contradicting you. I appreciate your humble approach to sharing your personal experience.)

  41. says

    Julie – i TOTALLY believe that every body is different and that we all have varied health needs! AND, i believe mostly that being happy is the best health of all. (For instance, I marvel at how much butter Julia Child used! And she lived to be 96! I’m sure it helped that it was organic and pre-corporate food era – but still…)

  42. michelle c says

    Christine!
    What an article to stumble upon. This last year and half has been a roller coaster of emotions. After some great stress and losses in my life, and suffering chronic pain since the age of 24, I embarked on a healing journey ! Had anyone told me when I quit pain killers in 2009 that it would be this difficult, I would have stayed on them :) Three years to heal, wow, it really has been that long. It seems I have healed thoracic outlet symdrome, circulation disorders, herniated disks in my neck, nerve damage…etc etc. but the one last thing that lingers is this pain behind my ear. I have thought for the last few years “is it coffee, is it dairy”. It has quite literally driven me crazy. The last few weeks I had decided that it was psychosymatic, that I had become so fearful of reacting to food, that I now create the pain in my head. It seemed that after I realized this, the pain was gone…for a few days, only to return. Then the questions start again “was it dairy” “do i eat for my blood type” etc etc. The last few days I have felt horrible, feels like the left side of my face is swollen and I am SICK of seeing DARK circles under my eyes! My father in law came and cooked ceamy mushroom something, then we had pizza, then I had the leftover Creamy dinner. I asked for signs of what to do…a few hours later, opened the fridge and the sour cream came flying out. (amoung other interesting signs) I sat at the computer and asked the Universe to show me the best answer to this problem when i searched quitting dairy….and your site jumped out ! SO, here it is, I am done with it ! I found soy creamer, tastes divine. I am not a good cook and dont enjoy it…so we’ll see, all I know is that I am no longer eating dairy. There is, again, a peaceful feeling in me knowing that. I really beleive that our bodies know what we need. The eating for blood type does resonate, but like many on here say, we cant become obsessed. I dont like that food has become something we all fear so much, which is why I thought I had created the pain behind me ear. I now believe its nerve related and that dairy causes instant inflammation in my head.
    Thank you for you post and thanks to all those who commented, what an enjoyable read it was. SO here’s to tomorrow ! Ahhh !
    Michelle

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