I never thought I could do it. I just needed to know if dairy was the source of my stomach aches. Besides being pain-free, I discovered there are more benefits as well to being dairy-free.
It was time. After suffering through the third debilitating stomach ache in as many days, I knew I had to make some dietary changes. I decided to eliminate dairy because it seemed to be the likely culprit for my stomach troubles.
That evening, I got together with my sister and our visiting sister-in-law at an ice cream parlor in Jerusalem. We ordered a platter of ice-cream-topped pancakes with real whipped cream on the side and hot milchig chocolate syrup drizzled liberally over it to round it all out. I also ordered a double-scoop ice cream cone for myself. If I was going to stop dairy, I figured I may as well stop in style.
The next morning, January 23, 2018, I began my dairy-free life. And immediately found myself in trouble. You see, I was quite the coffee addict. I would stumble out of bed to a chorus of my kids’ whining and blindly blunder about until I got at least half a cup of coffee inside me.
You can’t have coffee without milk, right? But I needed my coffee. So I choked down enough black coffee to start my morning and decided to stock up on pareve milk to try with my coffee.
It turns out that coffee and non-dairy milk really don’t go together. But I couldn’t give up on my dairy elimination; the stomach pains made sure of that. So I started drinking pareve hot cocoa—it’s a lot tastier than pareve coffee—with enough instant coffee added to give me the morning boost I needed. And that’s when I discovered the first major benefit of eliminating dairy: I can wean myself from caffeine at the same time!
Here are 5 other benefits I’ve discovered in the thirty days I’ve been off dairy. Oh—and the stomach cramps are gone, too.
I have more energy
It’s not like I feel more energetic or anything, but I’m doing a lot more in the same amount of time. I didn’t even notice it until my husband pointed it out. But it’s true: I’ve been more on top of the housework, our Purim preparations are 99% done, and I’ve even been working more hours—which is a big help for this freelancer’s household budget.
I’m getting out of bed earlier
And I’m less grumpy in the morning, too. It seems all the dairy I was eating was keeping me tired. Now I’m able to get out of bed as soon as my kids wake up at 6 a.m. We leave the house, on average, 15 minutes earlier than we used to. Plus, I’m around in the wee hours, while my husband is at Shacharis, to keep the kids out of trouble. No more waking up to my three-year-old scooping out the toilet water with her Shabbos shoes because she’s “mopping the floor.”
The bloat is gone
I often felt bloated and uncomfortable, sometimes for days at a time. Now I’m feeling much lighter. Apparently dairy can weigh you down in more ways than one.
I’m eating less junk food
I’m not sure this is really a benefit, but I haven’t touched milk chocolate in a whole month. I know, I can’t either believe I had that much self-discipline in me.
No more fleishig-phobia
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about—you don’t make yourself fleishig on the tiny chance you might want to eat something milchig within 6 hours. Well, I never have dairy, so I can always be fleishig. It’s a whole new level of freedom to be able to taste my Shabbos cooking without thinking, or have some cold cuts for a snack without worrying about—literally—ruining my dinner.
So, after experiencing all these benefits, does dairy have a place in my future? I don’t know. I may start introducing some dairy back into my diet to see how my stomach reacts. Or I might embrace the dairy-free life and live up the benefits!
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist. Eliminate dairy at your own risk.
Need a good milk replacement for your coffee? Read this post.