REAL LIFE: Four surprising things that happened when I went dairy-free

Thinking of saying adios to milkshakes and mascarpone?

When I was 19, I randomly decided to backpack through India. While my friends were going to full moon parties in Thailand or rocking Bintang singlets in Bali, I wanted a different cultural experience.

So, I signed up to a month-long Intrepid tour of Rajasthan and packed my passport, Lonely Planet guide and all of my ignorance into a little rucksack.

What resulted was a polarising love-hate journey, featuring gorgeous sunrise yoga sessions, bug-infested train rides, exquisite temples and a severely compromised gut thanks to a smorgasbord of street food I ate to try and impress my fellow travellers. As Julia Roberts would say, “Big mistake, huge!”.

India whet my appetite for travel, but sadly my gut has never been the same. After a wild tummy bug brought on by a questionable palak paneer cheese curry, I simply could not process dairy like I used to.

Back in Australia, my GP suggested I stop eating dairy altogether, so I religiously avoided it for a long time until my gut had somewhat healed.

Over the years, I’ve eaten dairy products sparingly, but cut to two years of lockdowns living with a new boyfriend and devouring comfort food like ice cream, cheesy toasties and creamy soups, my old tummy troubles resurfaced.

I also put on weight, my skin broke out, I got headaches and generally felt off. It was as if my body was screaming at me to make some lifestyle changes and get back to my dairy-free ways.

So, I’ve now made a conscious decision to say no to dairy and opt for vegan options instead.

While everybody is different and I can only speak to my personal experience, I notice some distinct improvements when I forgo dairy products. Here’s what happens…

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1. Happier tummy

The major issue I have with dairy is that it makes me feel uncomfortable, which is not fun at all. My doctor suggests this could be due to a lack of lactase, the enzyme needed to properly digest cow’s milk, which is apparently quite common.

While I’m not one to deprive myself of a cheese platter at a party, or my sister’s iconic cream cakes, I definitely notice the side effects when I eat dairy-rich foods.

I won’t deprive myself, but I definitely notice the side effects when I eat dairy-rich foods.

(Image: Supplied)

2. I don’t miss milk… at all!

One of the hardest parts about giving up dairy is milk. I’ve tried all the plant-based options available… soy, oat, coconut, hemp, hazelnut, but my favourite is almond. It’s got a deliciously creamy texture and tastes amazing in my morning latte.

While I’ve lapsed on items like cheese and ice cream over the years, I’ve never gone back to drinking milk because I genuinely prefer the taste of almond milk to cow’s. A great option is So Good™ Unsweetened Almond Milk, it’s made in Australia, with Australian almonds and blended with essential nutrients you’d get from dairy like calcium and vitamins E, B12 and B2.

Plant-based milks are readily available alternative to cow’s milk.

(Image: Getty Images)

3. My skin’s improved

I somehow managed to bypass teenage acne, but once I hit my 20s, I could not shake it. However, when cutting out dairy I notice a massive improvement in my skin.

I produce less oil, my breakouts stop and my skin seems to glow from within.

“Hello, modelling agency? She’s ready.”

Cutting out dairy did wonders for my skin.

(Image: Getty Images)

4. I’m more conscious about what I put in my body

It’s easy to fall into a habit of regularly eating unhealthy, dairy-rich foods. However, when I make an effort to reduce them, it shifts my entire attitude towards nourishment and I begin to think more carefully about what I’m consuming.

When I first cut out dairy, I worked with my GP to replace lost nutrients with a healthy, balanced diet along with probiotics, vitamins and supplements. If you’re thinking of cutting out any type of food group, speak to a medical professional and be smart about your swaps.

Brought to you by So Good.

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