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What I Learned from 21 Days Dairy-Free

What I Learned from 21 Days Dairy-Free

With every New Year, rather than attempting to stick to a New Year’s resolution of “eating healthy” or “losing X pounds” I like to experiment with cutting out something from my diet. I generally try to eat healthy and avoid fattening foods (at least during the week) so this is a way for me to see if there’s a certain type of food that is an integral contributor to my lack of weight loss.

The Experiment

I have always said that no matter what diet I go on I could never give up cheese – pizza to be more specific. I’m Italian and I praise my heritage’s food with overconsumption on a weekly basis. This overconsumption led to me to challenge myself to the one thing I said I could never live without. For 21 days, I decided to give up dairy. I tracked my progress and emotions below.

Disclaimer: Every person is different and every body reacts differently to different foods. My 2009 experiment of a month without bread or sugar resulted in a total of one lost pound – the result (hopefully) would not be the same for you. This experiment was to teach me about the effect dairy has on my body. This experiment could go very differently for yours.

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The Timeline

Day 1 – 2: I eased into my transition. I didn’t necessarily eat healthy but I avoided dairy (to my knowledge). This gradual transition helped me avoid giving up.

Day 3: One of my favorite snacks is pesto and matzo – try it, you’ll see why. While diving into my daily fix, I took a look at the ingredients for pesto…which included Parmesan cheese. I quickly, and very reluctantly, returned the pesto to the fridge to wait out the duration of my sentence.

Day 5: I had a minor panic attack. In my research of all things dairy, I almost thought I had read that olive oil had dairy in it. It was then that I wanted to give up. I felt like dairy products were secretly hidden in almost everything. After taking a deep breathe and reading on, I discovered that (duh) olive oil does not contain dairy. To my ignorant surprise, I also found out that eggs are not considering dairy. This is a common misconception, considering eggs are found in the dairy aisle, but are free of dairy, nonetheless.

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Day 6: Second day in a row with a migraine. Is it possible to have withdrawals from cheese?

Day 7: My daily breakfast is a protein shake. It did not occur to me until I was a full week into non-dairy to check the ingredients of my protein powder, which contain whey protein concentrate which next to it says (milk); as do my protein bars I keep on reserve for “hangry” instances. In trying to find a breakfast replacement, I discovered that dairy-free yogurts and protein bars supplement lack of milk with high sugar content, albeit healthy sugars (like those found in fruit). This was a very interesting find.

Day 10: I lifted a 24-pack of water over my head onto the top of my fridge with ease. Meanwhile, I’ve never been able to lift my suitcase on to the top of airport bins without assistance. Am I getting stronger?

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Day 14: I’m in a groove. Although it is frustrating not being able to even walk into an Italian restaurant, eating dairy-free isn’t too difficult anymore. Going out to eat, in general, is stressful. You can’t be sure that any menu item isn’t cooked with butter. However, I’ve made it this far and I’m excited for the home stretch. The last two weeks went by relatively fast and were not nearly as depressing as I had always imagined them to be.

Day 21: Give me cheese, please! Oh, and a side of ice cream. It’s not like I was necessarily craving it, but what’s a challenge without a reward?

Overall, I never felt too different being off dairy. I felt stronger, but not necessarily healthier. In total I managed to lose 3 pounds, about one per week, which seemed easy considering I never really felt like I was on a strict diet. After all, I could still eat bread and – fun fact – Oreos are dairy free. I wasn’t unhappy with my weight loss but it wasn’t overly exciting either.

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The Lesson

This experiment overall taught me how many foods secretly have dairy in them (and how thankful I am that I don’t have a dairy allergy). I learned that, moving forward, there are certain things that I can keep dairy out of, specifically coffee and salads.

This experiment was something I’m glad I did, but not something I would necessarily enjoy doing again. I appreciate pizza even more than before and I will enjoy my cake, and eat it too.

More than learning that I should stay away from dairy, I learned how easy it really is to cut out a food you thought you could never live without. It truly is all about your mindset and not letting yourself give in to giving up. That’s all it really takes to make eating healthy a habit. Once your mind is in the right place, the opportunities are virtually endless.

If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself and please share your experiences with me!

Featured photo credit: diapicard via pixabay.com

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What I Learned from 21 Days Dairy-Free

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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