Updated: Dec 15, 2018
My Personal Journey
Honestly, being dairy free has never been easier than it is today -- there are so many dairy alternatives and so many health benefits to leading a dairy free life!
I decided to become dairy free because of my struggle with acne. I tried everything -- skin care routines, supplements, spas etc. and I didn't notice a difference in my skin until I cut out all the dairy in my diet. (You can read more about the causation between dairy and acne here). Along with other benefits of being dairy-free, my skin is finally clear, so I put together a guide to becoming dairy free:
6 Dairy-Free Hacks
I have never been a huge milk drinker, so this wasn't very difficult for me, but if you do drink a lot of milk, don't worry because this is an easy swap!
Use coconut or almond milk in your coffee instead of whole milk.
Use almond, hemp, or rice milk in your cereal instead of skim milk.
Use coconut or almond yogurt with your granola and fruit instead of Greek yogurt.
Make soups/sauces with coconut milk instead of cream.
2. Dips & Spreads
Switching from dairy dips and spreads to plant based ones is actually easier and YUMMIER than you might think. These are some of my favorites:
Kite Hill Plain Cream Cheese Style Spread
The Honest Stand Cheddar Style Dip
Let Thy Food Hatch Valley Queso
Daiya Cream Cheeze Style Spread
La Onda Almond Dip & Spread Roasted Garlic
Good Lovin' Dip Chipotle Chili
3. Sweets & Treats
YES, you can still treat yo' self to some ice cream because coconut ice cream.
Use coconut oil instead of butter to bake (or use earth balance vegan butter).
Use a hemp or rice-based protein powder in your smoothies instead of whey.
Use almond or coconut milk in your pancakes, muffins or cakes instead of dairy milk.
4. Eating Out
This is the most difficult because restaurants are tricky and sneak a lot of dairy into their meals, but here are some foods to look out for:
Soups like chowders or bisques.
Oatmeal, (restaurants usually make with dairy milk although you can ask for a dairy free alternative or even water).
Dressings like ranch and thousand island.
Sautéed veggies or anything else in a pan is usually cooked in butter.
Smoothies often include yogurt or whey powder.
Sherbet, unlike sorbet, is made with milk or cream.
Some of my favorite dairy-free snacks:
Carrots and bell-peppers with hummus (or another dairy free spread) instead of ranch dip.
Air popped popcorn instead of popcorn drizzled in butter.
Fruit with nuts instead of a chocolate bar.
Granola instead of a cereal bar.
6. Mind Over Matter
This is by far the most important tip that I can give for cutting out dairy (or really any lifestyle change). This is where the success lies. Our minds are extremely powerful, but when we realize that we have control over them, we can conquer anything. Here are some mental tricks to overcome dairy:
Ease into it. Dairy was a huge part of my life and something that felt impossible to give up, so easing into it helped me. Start by picking one of the above swaps and keep with it for a week or two. And when that feels easy, add another. Then another. Keep going until you’re dairy-less and energy-full!
Cheese cravings are real, and when you feel them, remember WHY you’re cutting out the dairy: to feel better, to look better, to live better!
Don’t beat yourself up. If you mistakenly order a smoothie on vacation and then suddenly realize that it’s been made with dairy, don’t tell yourself that you failed or that it’s all over. Instead, be happy you found out, don’t finish the smoothie, and eat some fruit and next time you will remember to ask whether or not the smoothie is made with dairy.