Going Dairy-Free is Easier Than You Think

Even though people have been consuming dairy products (and even using it as medicine for thousands of years), our bodies do not require dairy to be healthy. We have been told that dairy is a needed source of calcium for building bones. But actually, calcium is way more abundant in leafy green veggies. There are many cultures that do not consume any dairy and have incredible bone density.

Did you know that after the age of four many people (including up to 90% of the Asian and black population) stop making the enzyme lactase which makes them lactose intolerant? Milk sugar is called lactose but the enzyme lactase is what is needed to digest it. If you are not producing lactase you will have difficulty digesting lactose.

Common symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin 30 minutes after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose, including:

  • Nausea
  • Sinus congestion
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea

Excellent sources of calcium are:

  • Fresh, dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens
  • Legumes
  • Sesame seeds and almonds
  • Wild salmon and sardines
  • Rhubarb
  • Okra

Here is an interesting fact – Vitamin D3 is more important for building strong bones than calcium and 78% of Americans tend to be Vitamin D3 deficient. Vitamin D is required to carry the dietary calcium out of the gut and into the bloodstream, so it is the chronic deficiency of Vitamin D that causes calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.

Supplement with Vitamin D3 during the winter, but get some sun exposure during the rest of the year for optimal health and strong bones.

Dairy is very hard to digest, which can cause digestive distress, such as bloating and constipation. Going dairy-free is easier than you think! The best approach to get started is knowing what plant-based alternatives are available and finding ones you like. 

🥛 1. Plant-Based Milks
There are some great plant-based milks such as:
-Almond milk
-Soy milk
-Coconut milk
-Rice milk
-Oat milk
-Hemp milk
-Cashew milk
-Macadamia milk

Many of these are fortified with calcium and vitamin D and are healthy replacements for cow’s milk.

🧈 2. Plant-Based Butter
While plant-based butter is commonly available, there are also some great natural replacements you could give a go, including:
-Olive oil
-Flaxseed oil
-Avocado
-Hemp seed oil

🧀 3. Plant-Based Cheese
There is a wide range of alternatives for cheese, including:
-Store-bought vegan soft and hard cheese (use sparingly!)
-Cashew cheese with nut milk and lemon juice
-Nutritional yeast (also fortified with B12)

Giving up cheese is the biggest barrier for many when giving up dairy. This is because dairy contains casein, a protein that releases casomorphins during digestion. Cows produce casomorphins to keep the calf coming back to drink their mother’s milk. Essentially, they are addictive! 

🥥 4. Plant-Based Yogurt
There are also many delicious plant-based yogurt alternatives available such as:
-Soy-based yogurt
-Coconut yogurt
-Cashew yogurt
-Almond yogurt

🍦5. Plant-Based Ice Cream
If you’re simply craving some ice cream, you can try:

-Nut-based or soy-based store-bought ice cream (watch the sugar content though)
-Dairy-free fruit-based sorbets
-Making your own using frozen bananas, cacao, and plant-based milk

Happy dairy-free eating! 

This Week’s Recipe: Easy Dairy-Free Overnight Muesli
Muesli is the perfect plant-based breakfast. It’s packed with fiber, protein, and antioxidants. It can also be super versatile as you can choose how you want to make it. But the problem is, most people mix it with regular yogurt and milk.

So for our version of the muesli, you’ll find all healthy alternatives—from gluten-free oats to plant-based milk, yogurt, and toppings. Prepare this overnight so you can enjoy some extra snooze minutes in the morning. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 apple, grated
  • 1/2 cup plant-based milk
  • 1/4 cup plant-based yogurt
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

TOPPINGS:

  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Blueberries
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a bowl, stir together the oats, grated apple, milk, yogurt, maple syrup, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and salt. Place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, garnish with the toppings of your choice and add a little more plant-based milk if desired.

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Dr. Tara Meyerink

Dr. Tara is a Doctor of Clinical Nutrition and is a National Board certified Integrative and Functional N Nutrition Practitioner.

She believes that getting to the root cause of health issues is the key to sustaining health and wellness. Teaching clients the “why” behind recommended action steps for health improvement empowers them to learn to listen to their body and pro-actively take responsibility for their health. She believes one never stops learning.

Dr. Tara worked 20+ years in public education and educational administration prior to becoming a healthcare provider. She has authored and co-author peer-reviewed publications, does public speaking regarding longevity and nutrition, and mentors/supervises functional nutrition residents/candidates for their national boards.