NOTE: This is not a recommendation for you to cut dairy and I’m not saying that dairy is "bad".
It’s the trend these days to eliminate entire food groups. For some, the reasoning is sound. For many others, it’s “the thing” to do. I never imagined I’d willingly cut dairy from my life. I LOVE cheese, Greek yogurt, and ice cream but after reading What Dairy Does to Periods and an article about inflammation caused by A1 casein by Dr. Lara Briden, I wondered if I should consider it. It wasn’t the first time I’d come across information suggesting that some types of dairy may contribute to period pain. However, I found plenty of information and data supporting dairy intake as a healthy part of a well-rounded diet as well. For example, several studies have concluded that dairy products have anti-inflammatory properties in humans not suffering from allergy to milk. I am unaware of having a cow’s milk allergy, so where does that leave me?
I wasn’t entirely convinced to give it a go…until my next period arrived. It was BAD. It’s gotten to the point that I’m a candidate for hysterectomy due to suspected adenomyosis. I knew that cutting out most dairy products would be difficult. But not as difficult as the painful cramping and bloating have been. What if I could make dietary changes and feel better? I want to eat foods that support my health and sense of well-being. I definitely don’t want eat foods that could potentially cause higher levels of physical pain. I weighed the pros and cons; it was time to try the cheese-free life.
Clients, friends and acquaintances regularly ask what and how they should eat. Sometimes I'm asked what I eat. A prescriptive answer may be desired but I don't have one. As with nearly all fitness or dietary related questions, the answer is, of course, it depends. For most people, what works best is to consume a wide variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods that support individual needs, goals, and preferences and include a mix of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. That's not quite the answer people seem to be looking for but it's the one I've got!
As for what I eat, the answer is almost everything. I eat mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods including plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean meats, and occasional dairy along with some processed foods and dining out. I don’t count calories or macros but I generally follow the PN portion control method. I don't do a lot of food prep but I have an idea of my meals for the week before I go shopping. What I do may or may not work for you and that's okay. Below are a few simple tips anyone can use to support healthy dietary habits.
If you follow me on social media, you know that at nearly 40 years old, I had my first “real” surgery on March 15th. It was a diagnostic laparoscopy that resulted in a diagnosis of endometriosis, a disease that affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide. I will write about my story eventually because I think it is beneficial to share. But right now, I would like to share a bit of what I took from this experience - not uterus and ovary related.
When the alarm went off at 4:45 am, I flipped the switch to silence it and reached for a glass of water that wasn’t there. "Right, no drinking anything," I thought. Next on the morning agenda: take a shower with that awful antimicrobial cleanser. After drying off, I reached for deodorant. Nope. Lotion. Nope. After dressing, I walked to the kitchen where I opened the cabinet for the coffee filter. NOPE! Until we got into the car to drive to the hospital, I had to actively and repeatedly remind myself I couldn’t do what came so automatically.
Calorie Tracking & Food Guilt
I think it started in my early 20s. Post-delicious high-fat, high-carb snack guilt. Dividing foods into “good” and “bad”. Feeling like I needed to work off food I had consumed earlier. Eating when hungry but also when feeling anxious or sad. All these issues with food stemmed from the fact that I wanted to lose about 20 pounds. I began tracking my food intake in notebooks. A number written at the top of the page signified the number of calories I should have in a day based on an online calorie calculator. When I strayed from the plan or when I went over my daily calories, I felt like I lost. Sometimes in the evening, I would abandon all self-control. "Screw it!", I thought.
Food tracking can work well for many people but it can also be a source of guilt, stress, and disordered eating. It did not work well for me at the time! The one positive thing to come out of my tracking was that reviewing food labels became a habit. Serving size and ingredient lists are eye-opening!
Why I Don't Do It Anymore