Let me start off by saying: I love cheese. No, I mean I love it.
Not like normal love… like I would marry a block of cheddar and slip off with a cube of Swiss on the side. I would bathe in it from here until eternity; I would turn my head up to sky and scream, “I LOVE MANCHEGO AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!”
If you think cheese and I are close, don't even get me started on ice cream. I'll be here all day sobbing about the things that used to be. I'm pouring out quarts of milk for my fallen homies.
When I chose to give up dairy, it was fairly spur of the moment. I rarely overthink things – or think about things at all, to be honest. I'm an extreme person, so when the moment arrived, it was all or nothing – and I chose absolutely nothing.
I learned to hate myself quickly.
When you label something off limits, it suddenly becomes irresistible. Dairy was like the douchebag boyfriend I couldn't quit – I would hover by the fridge at 2 am, slightly drunk and wondering if I should just reach out and see if it was thinking about me too.
I can't tell you this will be a permanent change – well, a girl has needs – but I learned a lot about “willpower” and saw some very clear improvements in my life over the course of the four weeks of my dairy-free lifestyle. One of them was, of course, talking about it constantly.
So here I am…
1. I lost weight.
I'm supposed to say something along the lines of, “While nice, it's not the reason I'm doing it.” But I'd be lying. I would never kick the likes of cheese out of my bed (yes, I eat in bed) for anything short of a miraculous body transformation. If you basically live on cheese, this will be more dramatic (exhibit: me). For the normal human whose food pyramid isn't a slice of cheesy, cheesy pizza, weight loss is still very common.
2. Your skin gets better.
I WAS GLOWING. Like the “Teletubbies” sun baby. I was giggles and sunshine all day and every day. Without getting too technical, dairy products have a hormone called IGF-1 – this particular hormone is very nutritious for growing cows, but it does nothing but bad things for your skin and latent case of acne. Cows might have spots (Some of them, OK?), but you don't have to!
3. I had more energy.
I'm already jacked up constantly, but let me tell you I've never done so much in my life. Dairy contains tryptophan – in small amounts – but that coupled with your (AND MY) traditional carb-and-protein-heavy meals translated to serious yawns. I'm already prone to doing cartwheels during other people's smoke breaks (If they have time off, why shouldn't I?), but I could run a marathon (right into the arms of Polly-O string cheese, of course).
4. Asthma can kiss my ass.
Not everyone is convinced there's a clear link between asthma and dairy, but there is a ton of anecdotal evidence to suggest otherwise. Including my own. As someone who totes around her Albuterol like the newest Prada clutch, I found myself breathing more clearly and deeply than ever before. I could smell new things; I stopped wheezing into my pillow every morning. I was a new woman with a new nose and a new lease on life.
5. I lost the bloat.
As you could probably guess from everything I wrote here, I love eating. Overeating really. And with that terrible dietary standard, it makes a lot of sense that cutting out a major source of comfort food in my life would translate to reduced bloat. But I'm not alone. A lot of people have trouble digesting lactose – and that kind of “intestinal distress” often leads to bloating. Cutting dairy out of my life had me feeling svelte. And it's not often that I can use the word “svelte,” so imagine my semantic joy because of it.
6. I smelled better.
I don't even mean my sense of smell; I mean that my natural body gave off a more pleasant odor. I stopped having to put on deodorant as much; I ditched perfume in favor of au naturel means. I got compliments. And you know, I live on compliments. Well, compliments and cheese. And if I can't have cheese then you know I have to turn to some form of external validation to give my life meaning.
Giving up dairy isn't for everyone; it's not even necessarily for me. The six things that happened to my body might not happen to yours. But I can tell you, one month later, I feel better, stronger and more energized.
I can't swear off cheese for good. I won't. I love myself too much. But I'm much more open to moderating my diet so that I can consume cheese in healthy doses and still reap all the benefits of a reduced-dairy diet.
Otherwise I'll have to stop using the word “svelte” and, my God, I want to use it all the time. Svelte.
That felt good.