Today marks four months without eating dairy. (Yes, I am a geek and keep track of these things. I also celebrate my stereo’s birthday every year by giving it a new CD. Cards on the table: it’s just the type of person I am.)
I think four months is the longest stretch I have ever done… practically anything related to food. I have gone off wheat before, but that lasted about three months before something wheaty (who knows what?) snuck its way back onto my plate. I have curbed my sugar intake before but inevitably went back to courting it. (It’s the chocolate that gets me every time.) I’ve even taken dairy out of my diet a few times before, but I don’t know– I never really considered dairy to be a full blown allergy in the past and thus wasn’t too concerned when cheese and yogurt and butter became staples on our grocery list again.
This time has a different feel to it. I’m taking my food intake more seriously (in terms of food type, not at all in terms of food portions or amounts. I will eat as much kale as I please, do you hear? And I don’t care how many calories are in my dried mango slices. Life is too short!) I’m also paying really close attention to how dairy makes/made me feel, aka not very well! Every time I find myself wishing for a little bit of cream cheese icing (I know, classy) or gazing longingly at the Liberté full-fat Greek style yogurt, I just remind myself that dairy causes my digestive system pain. Intense, wholly uncomfortable, inconvenient, and oftentimes embarrassing pain. It’s not worth it!
Kate Moss was once quoted as saying that “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. It’s a horrifying quote, I know, and I’m not standing behind her words at all– I’m just altering and appropriating them here for my own purposes. In my experience, I’ve come to realize that no amount of dairy, however tempting or delicious-looking it seems, is worth the trade-off for how I end up feeling after I eat it. Kate would rather go hungry than gain any amount of weight. Me, I’m finally accepting the fact that I would rather pass on the spanokopita or say ‘no thanks’ to a silky chocolate truffle than I would suffer through severe abdominal distress for who knows how long afterward…
Getting to this point has been a process, for sure. Making as many meals as I can in our own kitchen has helped immensely, because so many store-bought vegetarian items come with cheese. Even soups so often have milk or cream (if not beef or chicken boullion) in the broth. Demoting my full-blown love affair with butter to a quiet, measured, and distant respect for it has been a key element, too. I still miss butter but have somehow (somehow!!) managed to get by without it. (It’s a tough life, I know.)
I’m hopeful that I can stay on this non-dairy-laced path well into my future, not because I have to or because I should, but because I choose to and because I truly appreciate the benefits that a lifestyle free of milk products affords me.