Why I should really stop eating dairy (at least most of the time…)

4 Oct

If there’s one thing this experiment taught me (okay, there’s way more than 1 thing), it’s that anytime you decide to cut something out of your diet completely, it can easily become an obsession.  All of a sudden your brain only knows deprivation.  I can honestly say that my sweet tooth hasn’t been too crazy these days.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s still there, but it’s a lot less demanding now that I can technically have “whatever I want”.  Yet, I feel as though removing dairy from my daily diet is a worthy goal.

I have been eating pretty healthy on a daily basis.  I don’t mean “healthy” for an American, such as “I chose whole wheat bread and low-fat cheese for my meatball sub today!”  I mean legitimately healthy.  I have been making a lot of homemade meals and bringing those leftovers to work for lunch.  While people around me munch on chicken tenders, I enjoy stir fry made with homemade chicken broth, vegetables from my garden, and organic chicken.  I’m not saying this to put myself up on any pedestal.  I confess that I used to be a health food Nazi, but I’ve relaxed quite a bit.  I finally put things into perspective.  I believe that freaking out over a teaspoon of sugar in your cup of coffee is going to cause more health problems than the sugar itself.  I used to be pretty snooty about what “other” people ate, but I feel like I’m mostly over it.  I only care when it impedes upon my own diet.  The worst is when I have to eat things that not only taste unimpressive to me, but also make me feel like crap AND are horrible for me.  It’s a triple whammy that I prefer to avoid, but I don’t want to be unable to eat socially either.  I just can’t win.

I have a lot of food intolerances, as mentioned in previous posts.  I struggled for years to figure out what I could eat without feeling like complete garbage.  It all seemed so random with inconsistent results, so I would often give up immediately and just go back to eating whatever I wanted.  As I started to put the puzzle together, I still didn’t want to commit to any changes.  But I like onions, AND they’re healthy!  or Since fruit will make me feel just as shitty, I might as well eat ice cream instead, because it makes me happier!  To my own surprise, I have done a decent job of reigning in these waa waa moments.  I eat lower FODMAP these days than I ever have in my life (at least intentionally), but it’s still not enough.  I still struggle with stomach problems on a fairly regular basis.  I know I can make things better, because they have been better in the past when I buckled down and got serious about changing my eating habits.  It can be hard to commit, but it’s even harder to stick with it long term.  For example, during my early Hungry Guinea Pig days, I was dairy free.  It wasn’t the magic bullet I was looking for, but I did feel better without it.  No matter.  It wasn’t the answer to all of my health woes, so why leave it out, eh?  While I haven’t been eating a whole lot of dessert lately, I have been on a dairy kick: cheddar, pepperjack, string, and cottage cheeses, REAL cream, butter, chocolate whole milk, plain whole milk, etc.  It’s been delicious, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve gained 2 or 3 pounds in the past couple of WEEKS just by doing so.  There are a lot of potential reasons for this.

There’s the obvious (but not only) answer of eating more calories.  I like full fat dairy, because I don’t believe low-fat dairy to be as “healthy” of an option as the media likes to proclaim.  Low fat dairy has been linked to infertility and blood sugar issues, and has been fortified with synthetic Vitamin A.  Synthetic Vitamin A in excess has been linked to lower bone density in women (possibly due to blocking Vitamin D?).  Full fat dairy doesn’t require fortification, because it’s a real food with real vitamins in it.  See how simple the USDA food guide pyramid tries to make things?  Fatty foods mean more calories.  Fat people = sick people (or so we’ve been told).  Therefore, if we take the fat out of this food, then people will be skinny and therefore healthy!  In the words of Clueless’ Cher, “As if!”

One big complaint I have with traditional dietitians is how reductionist of an approach they embrace.  It’s all about calories in, calories out!  Right?  False!  Foods are more than their nutritional parts.  As J.J. Virgin, nutrition expert, says: our bodies are not banks, they are chemistry labs.  Hormones have a lot to do with the way food affects us.  It would be nice if 60 calories of apple was the same as 60 calories of pie in terms of weight maintenance, but that’s not always the case for EVERY body.  Holy rant!  Moving on…

Other reasons for gaining weight could be the recent addition of a stressful job (I’m not a librarian anymore!), being intolerant to dairy (inflammation encourages hormonal chaos), and/or the fact that even organic milk contains natural hormones that encourage weight gain.  Since cow milk is designed to make a baby calf grow, and fast, its effect on humans can be similar.  However, we get to grow in our bellies!

Weight is certainly not everything, but I must admit that since ending the diet, the pounds have really crept up on me. It wouldn’t be so bad if I gained weight proportionally, but who does that?!  Well, not me anyway.  I am mostly belly, and where there’s belly fat, there’s insulin resistance.  And where there’s insulin resistance, there’s more chronic health problems just lurking behind the corner.   I know that my belly isn’t doing my confidence, my physique, or my heart any favors, so I’d like to make it shrink again.

In any case, I have even more compelling reasons to cut out dairy than just weight loss goals alone.  Even when I take lactase (the enzyme that digests lactose) pills, my body still seems to feel pretty yucky under the spell of dairy.  On top of lactose, there’s the issue of the histamine found in hard cheeses (which from a FODMAPS perspective, should be safe for me).  I seem to have a lower than average tolerance for histamine containing foods.  It’s hard for me to say with certainty that histamine is the problem.  I have suspected mold too.  However, since I seem to have trouble with fresh foods such as tomatoes and cucumbers, it seems as though histamine is the most reasonable explanation.  I can’t eat too much histamine at once or I get major brain fog and unexplained anxiety out of nowhere.  It makes me feel as if I smoked a dooby on my lunch break, and doing my job or trying to think clearly becomes increasingly difficult.  It sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true.  Since I have fibromyalgia, I may just feel the effects of food chemicals more strongly than your average Joe.  Whatever the reason, I can’t pretend as though those consequences don’t exist if I want access to my brain for the next hour after eating.

Then there’s all of this scientific garbage I collected awhile back to try and convince myself to give dairy the boot.  I didn’t list any of my references, because I meant for it to be a list just for my own personal use.  I know a lot of it came from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat To Live  and some is from Dr. Mark Hyman’s website.  I wish I had more info for ya’ll, but I don’t have the energy to backtrack all of my sources right now.

*There is a strong association between dairy lactose and ischemic heart disease

– In one study on baboons, lactose produced more pronounced atherosclerosis than fructose, sucrose, starch, or glucose.  Lactose = glucose + galactose (when heated – great potential to bind proteins + thought to be responsible for increased risk of cataracts)

*There is a clear association between milk consumption and bladder, prostate, colorectal, & testicular cancers

*Dairy fat is loaded with dioxins – environmental toxin – prominent cause of many types of cancers in those consuming dairy fat, also implicated immune disruptors, endocrine disruptors, & reproductive disruptors

*There is ample evidence implicating dairy consumption as a causative factor in prostate & ovarian cancer

*Prostate cancer risk elevated with increased consumption of low-fat milk (protein likely to blame)

*Women who consumed the highest amount of lactose (1/more servings per day)  = 44% greater risk for all types of invasive ovarian cancer (Nurse’s Study) -skim & low-fat milk were largest contributors to lactose consumption

*Milk consumption has a high statistical association with higher rates of hip fractures

*Lactose intolerance is CRAZY common (~75% of the planet)

*Milk is the most common allergen

*Milk increases mucus production and is contraindicated in asthma

*Lactic acid connected with panic disorder

*There is no veal industry without the dairy industry

*Constant separation of mother from calves – depressing to think about!

*Intended for animals with a four-chamber stomach

*Possibly addictive (casomorphines), especially in those with leaky gut

*Homogenized milk may contribute to scarring of the arteries

*Casein may contribute to fatty liver

*Casein can be very constipating.  It’s used in making glue – that’s how binding it is!

*Dairy has been suspected as being a main causative factor in Type 1 and possibly Type 2 diabetes

*Natural growth hormones in milk stimulate insulin production-drinking a glass of milk can spike insulin levels 300%!  60+ anabolic/growth hormones found in milk which is designed to make young animals grow

*Lactose and casein have been demonstrated to contribute to insulin resistance

*Whey is also thought to increase serum insulin levels

*Foreign proteins in cow’s milk may be confused with similar proteins in human pancreatic cells

*Casein has been known to cause more advanced atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, and lipotoxicity than other dietary proteins in animal research

*Pasteurization destroys enzyme allowing body to absorb calcium from milk

*Milk may play a role in the development of leaky gut, and therefore, autoimmune diseases (such as Type 1 diabetes mentioned above)

Just so you know, this isn’t meant to scare everyone away from ever drinking milk or eating dairy ever again.  I certainly wouldn’t encourage everyone to start buying soy milk instead.  Store bought milk alternatives have their own consequences (don’t even get me started).  I just thought I would share it, so you could see that even without an intolerance/allergy, there are other compelling reasons to stop consuming dairy.  It’s nice for those who have trouble digesting it to just be able to look at this evidence and say See I’m not really missing out no matter how delicious chocolate milk is! 😦

If you are keeping track, here’s what we know about me and dairy: According to FODMAPS protocol, I should really avoid most dairy unless I find that lactase pills work for me.  So milk, soft cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream are no go’s without enzymes.  The enzymes are expensive, require a bit of planning, and don’t always seem to make me digest dairy a whole lot better.  Cheeses, butter, and cream in small amounts should be fine.  BUT cheeses increase my histamine load, and cream is hard for me to limit, because I am a whole lotta cream in my coffee whore.  For the average person, dairy is best limited anyway due to possible long term health consequences.  Also, the dairy industry makes me more sad than most slaughterhouses for reasons I have shared in earlier posts.  In conclusion, I should really let the dairy go…

Any words of encouragement or advice on making the transition easier is warmly welcomed! 🙂


Fuhrman, J. (2011) Eat to Live.

Virgin, J. (2012) The Virgin Diet.




2 Responses to “Why I should really stop eating dairy (at least most of the time…)”

  1. PC October 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    I can so relate to this post. Especially the part about giving up and going to junkfoods because you can’t have another food. I seem to have a sensitivity to almost everything and it keeps driving me crazy – the feelings of deprivation are the worst!

    Anyway, I feel better without dairy too. I had a bit of cream the other day and got a familiar brainfog feeling that lasted into the next day. I had some butter in a soup today and felt weird after eating it too.

    Apparently ghee is better tolerated for those of us who have problems with butter and dairy…I’m going to experiment with it. I generally use coconut milk and cream instead of dairy anyway, and I find that frozen coconut cream makes a delicious alternative to ice cream! You can add cocoa powder to it (if tolerated) to make a chocolatey ice cream alternative. I love it, it’s almost as good as the real thing.

    • thehungryguineapig October 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

      Thanks for sharing! You are speaking my language! In fact, I just put some coconut milk in the freezer last night, so that I can try a soft serve coconut ice cream recipe I found. Substitutes are necessary. Otherwise, you end up going back to the nastier stuff. I use ghee. I haven’t tried to separate its use from regular dairy, so I’m not sure of its effects. It is tasty though and has less lactose than butter. Too bad it’s so expensive, because I’m too lazy to make my own at this point. 😉

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