Should I cut out dairy?
We are constantly bombarded with a list of foods that we should include and foods we should avoid. It seems that the newest food trend involves banishing dairy from our diets. With so much information out there, many individuals feel at a loss in terms of what to believe. I don’t blame you!
So really…should I cut out dairy?
Unless you have an allergy or medical condition that requires you to avoid a specific food, I don’t believe that any food should be cut out completely.
So…maybe I should just reduce my intake of dairy?
It’s important to remember that each person is different. What works for your friend, your trainer, or your mom may or may not work for you. Food should be a personal choice, not something you are pressured or guilted into. Going solely on the advice of another person or using an app or a book to tell you what and how much you should eat will get you into trouble. Instead, experiment with a variety of food options to find out what makes you feel best.
While I don’t believe that there are health benefits to cutting out any specific food completely (unless you have an allergy or medical reason), it’s also not great to rely on any single food to make up a certain micro (think vitamins, minerals) or macro (think carbohydrate, fat and protein) need. I wouldn’t want chicken to be your only source of protein, wheat to be your only source of carbohydrate or milk to be your only source of calcium. Aim for variety and flexibility.
But really…what would happen if I cut out dairy?
Food is a personal choice. I believe that you should not cut out any food or food group completely, but instead aim for variety in your diet to ensure you meet your energy and nutrient needs.
That said, if you choose to cut out dairy for taste or ethical reasons, it certainly is possible to still meet your calcium needs. Many grains, nuts, seeds and veggies contain calcium. Most dairy alternatives such as soy milk are fortified with calcium. Below is an example meal plan that would allow you to reach the recommended 1000mg of calcium per day, without even relying on fortified dairy alternatives.
Example Meal Plan
large flake oatmeal (1/2 cup uncooked), chia seeds (2 tbsp), banana + 1 hardboiled egg
Salad with kale (1.5 cups), chopped tomato, cucumber, white beans (3/4 cup), cooked quinoa (3/4 cup) and lemon tahini dressing (2 tbsp) + an apple
Broccoli (1 cup) and hummus (1/4 cup)
Salmon burger (made with 3oz salmon with bones) with a bun and steamed mixed veggies (1 cup) + 2 cookies
almonds (1/4 cup) and 4 figs