So I did it! A whole month without dairy (well, there was one slip – at the airport coming back from Alt, my “custom” burger order came with cheese – yes, I ate it anyway……).
And, like most experiments, it had a completely different outcome than the one I was expecting.
Let’s start with my skin – which is, for the most part, good. But about 10 days into the month, I noticed a dramatic difference. There was a clarity, a smoothness, that was definitely not there before. Old sun damage was markedly faded (or gone completely).
Now Mara said this would happen but I was still shocked: a) I wasn’t looking to improve my skin, and b) I didn’t think I ate enough dairy to make that kind of a difference.
I also noticed that the persistent little “pooch” around my stomach – which I chalked up to age and three kids – was gone. Completely. Again, I was not looking to lose weight with this experiment – I exercise regularly, and though my Instagram feed would beg to differ I really do watch what I eat. There was not only a visible difference, I actually felt somehow “lighter” – I suppose, from the lack of bloat. Pretty cool.
Finally, there was a definite change in my eating and hunger patterns. I found that I was more persistently hungry pretty much all day, but was eating much less at each meal. Where before I could often be a “bottomless pit” where certain snacks were concerned, I was filling fuller on smaller portions.
What I DIDN’T notice was a change to my well-being (which is why I started this to begin with). I didn’t feel worse but I definitely did not see a change to my energy level or overall health.
So what to do now? My “plan” was to resume my dairy-consuming habits in February, as I eliminated sugar from my diet. But I’m one week into the month and, frankly, I’m a little scared to go back. So, for now, I’m going to mostly maintain, with exceptions when the occasion arises.
I’ll continue putting almond milk in my iced coffee, and using honey and jam on my English muffin. And I’ll be avoiding cheese way more than I used to. It’s weird, but not once did I crave dairy in any form during the month – which, I suppose, proves that there are indeed “trigger” foods.
Speaking of which:
image courtesy of mindbodygreen.com
Oy. This one’s rough (I have a MAJOR sweet tooth). For example – how did I want to define a “sugar-free” month? Were “natural” sweeteners okay (and what did that mean, anyway)? And how about artificial sweeteners? Could I still put Equal in my tea? Drink Diet Coke?
I did some reading up and learned a few things – the most compelling of which is that, as far as your body is concerned, sugar is sugar is sugar. So whether it’s white sugar, maple syrup or evaporated cane juice, you’re processing it all pretty much the same way.
So are there any benefits to using “natural” sweeteners? I came across this article, which helped clarify the differences and led me to decide that I would limit myself to natural sweeteners, used sparingly. For me, that will include maple syrup, evaporated cane juice and honey.
I could REALLY use your tips here, lovely readers. Are any of you sugar-free? How do you define that? And what are your favorite recipes? Share them with us here!