the dairy free challenge.

Last night I decided to give up dairy.


Not forever, but for 30 days.

Random? Yes.

We shall call it an experiment of sorts.

You see, I’ve been a little off lately. And by off I mean: my skin is out of control, I am constantly tired, and I get headaches on a regular basis.

After a tiny bit of research and a suggestion from a friend, I decided to start playing with my diet to see if I could improve these problems naturally.

Best case scenario? My skin clears up, I have more energy, and my headaches subside.

Worst case scenario? I find myself in constant fits of rage over an unsatisfied frozen yogurt craving.

Please pray for Brett. Lord only knows what I’m capable of doing on a diet that doesn’t include cheese. This might get ugly.

Have you ever given up dairy?! How’d it go?

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33 Responses to the dairy free challenge.

  1. kelsey says:

    i have JUST given up dairy myself… going on a week now. and i can honestly say i have never felt better in my entire life! i did realize how much i ate it, though, between plain milk, cheese, yougurt, butter, & chocolate, it was all over my daily food intake. i was like you and was super tired, had headaches, and also lots of intestinal problems. but since i gave it up, i’ve felt 100% better. good luck!!! hopefully it will help with your problems, too! 🙂

  2. becca wikler says:

    I’ve never given up on dairy entirely, but am always interested in vegan and vegetarian alternatives. You should definitely check out ice cream made with coconut milk. I’m not a big coconut fan, but even the “plain” (aka, coconut flavor) is to die for. They also have dark chocolate (!!!!!) and lots of other yummy flavors. I buy it at the local food co-op, but I’m sure Whole Foods or something has it too.

    Do it.

  3. You might’ve seen my recent tweets – my doctor thinks I’m lactose intolerant, because whatever’s wrong with me isn’t: Crohn’s, colitis, Celiac’s, ancer, polyps, etc. So this is one of the last options. Let me tell you: LIFE WITHOUT CHEESE IS MISERABLE. But feeling better? Isn’t.

    Good luck! And if you find any good dairy-free recipes, let me know!
    Suburban Sweetheart´s last blog post .."Responsibility to Act"

  4. becca wikler says:

    Another note – I recently gave up cheese and found the hardest part was salads! I couldn’t imagine a salad with some glorious feta or bleu. BUT, stock it up with other goodies (sunflower seeds, dried cherries, AVOCADO) and you hardly miss it.
    becca wikler´s last blog post

  5. Melissa Lynn says:

    I think I’m hopping on this bandwagon as well – I really need to try something different in my diet – as my skin is also OUT.OF.CONTROL! I’ll give you moral support & maybe we can “try” this together 🙂

    Happy eating friend!
    Melissa Lynn´s last blog post ..a bit of our 4th of July {a little overdue}

  6. San says:

    I could never in a million years imagine to give up dairy, but hey, if dairy should really be the culprit of why you’re feeling bad, it’s worth a try. I am sure there are more non-dairy alternatives out there than one thinks… I just “didn’t want to find them” so far 😉
    San´s last blog post ..Guest Post: Kim makes Jam

  7. Ashlee says:

    @Kelsey – thanks for the hope!

    @Becca – I am totally going to look into that. Frozen dairy desserts are my #1 weakness.

    @Kate – I already miss cheese. Will definitely post any good non-dairy recipes!

    @Melissa – YES. Let’s be dairy-free buddies, shall we? You’re about a month away from your wedding, no?

    @San – I feel you. If giving it up doesn’t solve anything, you better believe I’ll be indulging on day 31.

  8. Kate says:

    Over the last couple of years I have really cut back on my dairy intake. I now don’t drink milk at all. Instead I drink Almond Milk or, just recently, Silk’s Coconut Milk. I know that this is technically still dairy but what about having a little bit of goat cheese? Its a lot less processed, etc, etc. Also, not exactly the same taste as froyo but try whipping a frozen banana in your food processor. Its about the same consistency. Good luck! You can do it!
    Kate´s last blog post ...tell me something good.

  9. i found out a couple months ago i am actually allergic to dairy and giving it up has drastically changed my life for the better. i’ve never felt better (well until recently, but that doesn’t have anything to do with dairy…). anyway, since giving up dairy, i haven’t had much in the way of a cold or nasal issues. crazy.

    in my opinion, coconut milk and silk products have the best mouth feel as a dairy replacement. earth balance “butter” is delicious and trader joe’s semi sweet chocolate chips are soy based so fulfill the chocolate cravings for me.

    avocado has been a life saver for texture.

    daiya cheese will seem like a good idea/product/diary replacement in a week or 2 ( you need to give yourself some time away from actual dairy first).

    the hardest part is eating out – EVERYTHING has cheese, butter or cream in it. often i’ll go out and be able to eat exactly one thing on the menu. remarkably, almost always a hamburger. (full disclosure: i’m also allergic to shellfish)

    except asian food, so get ready to eat a lot of thai and vietnamese food out.

    good luck! i’ve got some really good dairy free recipes on my blog if you are interested.
    Tami — Teacher Goes Back to School´s last blog post ..Saturday Senses

  10. Hollyanne says:

    Hi Ashlee,
    (I’m a friend of Ruth’s by the way, and love reading your blog!) My husband and I recently decided to try a plant-based, whole-foods diet for 28 days…basically, no meat, no dairy, no soda, and lots of whole grains, natural sugars, fruits and veggies. It’s been about 2.5 weeks since we’ve started and I’ve definitely noticed less tiredness, clearer skin, etc. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but I think it’s worth it, and it has made us consider a total lifestyle change! Luckily, there is soy substitute for nearly everything, so you can still have cereal with milk, yogurt, and even cheese if you desire. As for fro-yo, maybe you can find a place that offers non-dairy or sorbet options 🙂

    If you’re interested, you can read more about our 28-day challenge on our blog.
    Good luck!
    Hollyanne´s last blog post ..{cocktails} grown-up raspberry lemonade.

  11. Ashlee says:

    @Kate – Thanks for the tips!

    @Tami – We don’t eat out very often, but that’s good to know. And I will for sure check out your recipes!

    @Hollyanne – Hi! Thanks for reading 😉 I am definitely going to check out your 28-day challenge. I did a 30 day vegetarian challenge a while back and really enjoyed it. Maybe after the dairy challenge I’ll consider a whole-foods diet!

  12. Lana says:

    Tuttimelon fro yo in Danville has dairy free yogurt. It’s pretty good. Maybe a place up by you has something similar? Good luck!

  13. Debbie says:

    Dairy free isn’t as hard as it might seem. Stay strong- you can do it! My husband was always feeling foggy, and that has changed since he gave up dairy. In our house we drink Almond Breeze instead of milk, coconut or almond yogurts, and use Daiya cheese.- makes the best DF mac and cheese- I have a recipe on my blog- it’s super easy. You should hit up GF specialty at 26 & J- while everything is gluten free, 70% of the store is also dairy free 🙂 Let me know if you need any help or suggestions.
    Debbie´s last blog post ..A fun candy find

  14. Lauren says:

    Hi Ashlee!

    I am a recent vegan (I quit animal products cold turkey around Christmas 2010) and I honestly recommend it for anyone! I was a diehard cheese fanatic before the big switch, and I don’t miss it one bit! I feel better than I ever have in my life, my skin is clearer than it has been in years, my chronic migraine headaches have been severely reduced, and I have more energy than I ever thought possible. I still love food, and I don’t have to eat nasty things either, vegan meals have just as much flavor as any other meal, and no animal had to suffer for you to eat it! As Becca said, Coconut Bliss (dark chocolate is my favorite), vanilla soy milk, and earth balance butter spread are delicious alternatives!

    Good luck!

  15. Paulette Hawes says:

    I have been working on lowering my cholesterol – so of course have had to cut back on dairy products. Cut back being the key word. For several weeks I ate no cheese, only put enough of 1% milk in cereal to give the cereal moisture. After several weeks I have reintroduced dairy back into my diet making sure that I only eat the portion listed on the label. I never realized (or chose to ignore) how much more I was eating!! My goodness, some of the portions are small. However taking this approach was eye opening. And guess what? Just a little sprinkle of feta on a salad is very satisfying.

    Good luck!!

  16. Sarabell says:

    I’m glad you’re trying out diet changes first! I had to go dairy-free (also tomato-free) in my early days of college and it was so hard for me! I discovered I was eating dairy every day, sometimes even every meal! I tried quitting cold turkey but I did still eat a little here and there. I found that powdered cheese, like in macaroni products, didn’t bother me… but of course I couldn’t just eat processed junk every day.
    My husband has Celiac disease, which means he can’t eat gluten (breads and similar grains, to make a long story short) and he is very VERY sensitive to it. Kissing me after I ate a sandwich could make him feel sick. After a few months and a lot of research, I decided to give up gluten to make him feel better. About a week after giving it up I discovered I could eat all the dairy I wanted again with no negative symptoms!
    I hope you are just lactose intolerant and can take Lactaid, or something similar, but if dairy doesn’t seem to help I’d suggest avoiding wheat for a few weeks to see how that goes too. A lot of people are finding they’re sensitive to it these days.
    Sarabell´s last blog post ..Ten Followers = Giveaway

  17. Olivia says:

    best of luck to you! I’m not sure I could do that. my dairy intake consists mainly of cheese. i looove cheese. ahhh…. i cant even imagine! you’re a brave soul! :]
    Olivia´s last blog post swap: Mary of Love and Other Drugs

  18. lauren says:

    kudos to you for going dairy free! i am appx. 50% dairy free (does that even make sense?!), but my one major weakness is macaroni and cheese. eek! i am also afraid of trying to find simple things like butter/margarine substitutes in my area.
    i have been toying with the idea of going 100% dairy free for 30 days starting on sept. 1st.
    please keep us posted on your journey – i would love some positive comments/reinforcement as my start date approaches! 🙂
    lauren´s last blog post ..birds.

  19. Ashlee says:

    @Lana – I think our local froyo place might have one dairy-free flavor. I’ll have to check it out!

    @Debbie – Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll have to swing by that store, I’ve never been there.

    @Lauren – Thanks for the confidence. You’re making me feel extra optimistic 😉

    @Mom – My frozen yogurt intake along is frightening 😉

    @Sarabell – Interesting. If I don’t notice a change after 30 days without dairy, maybe I’ll try wheat next.

    @Olivia – I love cheese too. Feel free to eat my portions over the next 30 days!

    @Lauren – Oooooh macaroni and cheese is SO. GOOD. I will keep you posted on my journey and let you know how it goes before you start yours in September!

  20. Michelle says:

    OH! I have done it! I actually went extreme and gave up everything animal! Yes, I became Vegan! And it was the hardest thing ever! I did it for 3 months and guess what, it messed me up, literally. The lack of sufficient protein and increase in soy effects your thyroid. I can do without meat but I happen to love ice cream and cheese. Cheese is my little addiction. Good luck my friend!

  21. Maggie says:

    Good luck!

    I highly recommend rice milk. I’ve been searching for the perfect milk substitute, and that’s the best one so far. The original flavored rice milk kind of resembles skim milk!

  22. Mary says:

    you can do it for sure. completely doing a diet overhaul to only natural whole foods is the best thing you can do!!

  23. Angeline says:

    Wow, I just started that this week too! My eczema has been flaring up something awful (the worst it’s been in a decade) and some folks think dietary allergens contribute to it, so I’m giving it a go (so desperate right now). So far I’ve failed both days, but just a tiny bit (pizza last night and tacos w/cheese tonight). Be my support buddy?
    Angeline´s last blog post ..Husband’s day off [outfit]

  24. Becky says:

    A friend of mine is dairy-free now and has done some “dairy-free Friday” posts with good recipes!
    Becky´s last blog post ..Fishnet stockings never looked so good

  25. I switched over to Almond milk and cut back on cheese a few months ago. It made a huge difference.
    Heather Marie´s last blog post ..Giddy up!

  26. jackie says:

    oh dear lord, never. i need my ice cream. i’m sure my body doesn’t need it, but just so delicious. thick and creamy and delicious.
    jackie´s last blog post ..i die

  27. Lauren says:

    You can do it Ashlee!! I don’t know if you remember, but I got rid of dairy senior year of high school when my stomach was freaking out, and it was obviously hard (as the 20 something posts above me can attest to), but it gets easier. I learned that dairy wasn’t the problem, and as you know, I obviously now eat dairy again, but I still prefer soy lattes and soy milk in general over milk. So perhaps you will learn to love your substitutions more than the original over time. Also, I find that when food makes me FEEL good in addition to tasting good, I love it all the more.

    I also have to agree with becca who suggested the coconut milk ice-cream. I recently discovered that in Thai town and it was one of my favorite life discoveries. Asian food in general is your friend for the dairy free life. My recent trip to Hawaii made me rediscover my obsession with Japanese food and that is ALL I have been cooking since I got back, so I can offer you plenty of dairy free recipes if you want to eat along those lines 😉

  28. Katie says:

    I’ve been having to do a whole body cleanse to help get rid of all the toxins and the yeast gone from my body due to some serious health concerns. And so I’ve been on a special diet. I can’t have anything with yeast, sugar or vinegar. I also can’t have cheese or yogurt. And it’s tough at first to give up some of the stuff but you start to get used to it and then you don’t miss it so much. Just make sure you don’t break even a little bit because then you will want more yogurt or cheese or whatever you broke on and it’s not fun. Good luck on your 30 days without dairy!

  29. Ashley says:

    I had to give up dairy for about 6 weeks because my doctor thought I was lactose intolerant. Now I may still be, we aren’t really sure but either way, I take a lactaid pill every time I eat it. It was super hard for me to give it up because I am a milk and cheese girl. I love love love a big glass of milk (better yet, chocolate milk!) but by the time the doc took me off it, I was willing to try anything to feel better and rid myself of symptoms.

    I was able to find things that I could use in meals instead and I learned to like soy milk in my cereal. I was SUPER surprised about what kinds of things had dairy in them that you don’t even realize. Like bread crumbs. Who woulda thought?!

    Anyway, good luck! I really hope it helps you!!
    Ashley´s last blog post ..currently

  30. Pingback: when in doubt, make pasta. | Where My Heart Resides

  31. Chantel says:

    Wow, you are a brave brave woman! I don’t think I could go 2 days without eating cheese! Though I am thoroughly interested to know how it goes!

  32. Andy Morris says:

    The very first book I read on nutrition suggested that everyone should drink lots of milk, so I did, and I got real sick.

    I’ve given up dairy many times in the past seems like it helps but hard to say. Now I just moderate my use eating cheese only occasionally once or twice a week. I’ve looked for a vegan substitute but they all have carageenan and since I don’t want that, plus most are too high in sodium. I’ve experimented a little with Nutritional yeast, and had mixed results the gravy/sauce I made was ok, guess you just got to get used to it.

  33. Lillian says:

    The funny thing about this is that you were probably pregnant and didn’t know it yet 🙂 Hormones, gotta love them right?

    I love looking back and re-reading your blogs from the past. Good way to get re- inspired.

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