We Cut Out Dairy For 14 Days And Here's What Happened

Unless you're vegan, dairy is probably an important part of your diet. Dairy is a good source of calcium and protein, and you have to love the richness it gives to your coffee. Sometimes when you're famished, you love biting into the oozing cheese of a slice of pizza. You also love the sweet goodness of ice cream in the summer, and you probably find yourself soothing the winter blues with a nice pint of Ben & Jerry's.

What happens when you give up dairy? While some people avoid dairy because they are lactose intolerant, some say giving up dairy clears up their skin, reduces bloating, and clears their sinuses. So we tried cutting out dairy for 14 days to see if anything changed. This meant no cheese on our burger, no butter on our bread, and ... gulp ... no Ben & Jerry's. While a 14-day fast from dairy was challenging, we didn't notice anything significant in our physical health. We did, however, notice how much dairy is in many of our foods. Here's how we handled it.

Swapping out dairy for plant-based products

We could have eaten ice cream made with plant-based milk, but we decided to give ice cream a rest for 14 days. Because probiotics are important for our digestive health, we found it hard to omit yogurt from our post-workout smoothie. To boost the protein in our smoothie, we added plant-based protein powder. Rather than take a probiotic supplement, we ate sauerkraut at our evening meals a few days a week. You'd be surprised how good sauerkraut tastes with chorizo-flavored, plant-based recipe crumbles. We still missed sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to take down the heat of the chorizo spice.

Rather than use dairy cream for our morning coffee, we swapped that out for oat milk creamer. We stirred plain, unsweetened almond milk into our morning muesli and also used it to substitute for milk in our recipes. Because we love a warm cup of golden milk in the evening, we used sweetened soy milk instead. Rather than use plant-based cheese, we just omitted any recipe or foods that included cheese, like our favorite pizza.

What we learned

Giving up dairy during the holidays was a little more challenging because so many of our festive favorites include cream or cheese. No egg nog, no baked brie, and no cookies made with butter (which includes many of our favorites). By eliminating dairy, we also got rid of some of the high-fat, high-calorie foods that could add to our waistline and cholesterol levels. Sure, our coffee wasn't as creamy, but it was worth the swap to make us mindful of how much saturated fat we eat every day. Most of the plant-based milks and creamers had fewer grams of fat.

After we added dairy back to our diets, we savored the baked brie and the buffalo chicken pizza. We wondered if we would experience bloating or gas after a cheese-free break, but we didn't. We did feel much more full after two slices of pizza, but perhaps now we won't indulge in pizza as often because of its high fat content. Surprisingly, we didn't miss the ice cream as often as we had anticipated, so we didn't run to the store to restock our freezer. We noticed we preferred the plant-based milk to dairy milk, so we'll probably stick with that swap. Although this was a short-term break from dairy, we also recognize that some others won't notice the effects of being dairy-free for months. Rather than give up dairy completely, we'll just eliminate what we can to make our diet a little more healthy and indulge in those sweet and savory dairy foods every once in a while.