7 Things That Might Happen If You Stop Eating Dairy
No milk, no problem?
Maybe your tummy is feeling a little off. Maybe you just hit the cheese plate a little hard over the holidays. Either way, you’re thinking about taking a break (long term or short) from dairy. Here’s what you need to know before filling your fridge with soy ice cream and cheddar alternatives.
You might lose weight
Although there’s no solid scientific evidence directly linking reduced dairy consumption to weight loss, studies have shown that veganism is the optimal lifestyle for weight loss. You’d just, ya know, have to give up a lot more than simply butter.
But you might gain it
Dairy is a terrific source of natural fat and protein, which are digested at a fairly slow rate, keeping you fuller longer. Remove dairy from your diet and you might find yourself replacing it with simple carbs that could lead to weight gain. Instead, be sure to fill up on dairy-free sources of healthy fat and protein like nuts, eggs and nut butters.
Your concealer could become obsolete
Whether you suffer from full-on acne or just the occasional pimple, dairy (milk, specifically) could be to blame. Milk contains testosterone-like hormones that could cause oil glands to work overtime, causing breakouts. And all milk (even organic and hormone-free versions) contains fat and sugar, two of the biggest culprits when it comes to skin woes. Cut it out and your complexion may thank you.
You'll need fewer tissues
Dairy consumption is linked to worsening allergy symptoms. Dairy stimulates the creation of mucus, which if you’ve ever suffered from allergies, is the last thing you need more of. There isn’t a ton of scientific evidence here, but people often report an anecdotal reduction in sinus issues upon kicking dairy to the curb.
Your digestive system might work better
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, you may have lactose sensitivity. Lactose intolerance is under-diagnosed, with many people feeling the adverse effects (bloating, gas, weird rumblings in your stomach) without attributing them to any food groups in particular. So if you’ve noticed yourself feeling crappy after going to town on a pint of Phish Food, maybe try phasing dairy out of your diet for a while to see if you feel better.
But it also might get worse
That said, dairy (mostly yogurt) is also an important source of probiotics, which promote good digestion. So if you cut dairy out, you might be deficient in this healthy gut bacteria. You also might experience bloating if you replace dairy with soy products, which are often hard to digest. That's why it would be a good idea to start taking probiotic supplements or incorporating more probiotic foods like kimchi and miso into your diet.
You'll have to eat more spinach
Dairy is--duh--a great source of calcium, so if you’re giving that up, you’d better find alternative sources. Think beyond simple dairy replacements and try eating more leafy greens like kale, spinach and broccoli, and other calcium-rich foods like oranges, oatmeal and white beans.
Dairy's effect on the body varies pretty drastically from person to person, and the science is fairly inconclusive when it comes to weight loss. So while we probably wouldn't recommend laying off dairy altogether for the sole purpose of losing a few pounds, it never hurts to cut back if you notice your morning cereal isn't sitting well. If you do quit cold turkey, just be mindful of the nutrients and bacterias you still need.