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.
Within two weeks, I noticed that my nasal congestion was significantly reduced. I used to have a low-grade runny nose all.the.time. I almost can’t believe how much improvement there’s been! This alone is telling me something about dairy and MY body.
My first cycle after cutting out dairy (somewhat poorly but significantly reduced from my normal daily intake) was better. While I still had to take ibuprofen every 4 hours, the “breakthrough cramping” (terrible cramps that don’t care how much ibuprofen I’m taking) was reduced. I was optimistic! The second cycle isn’t fairing as well. Jury is still out on whether or not this will have a long-term positive effect on period pain.
What I’ve learned so far:
I don’t know that removal of dairy is going to have the impact I’m hoping for in relation to period pain. However, it has significantly decreased nasal congestion and daily bloat so I’m sticking with it. I feel good about this choice and know that I'm not missing needed nutrients even if I am missing occasional Andy's Frozen Custard.
Planning an elimination of your own? During any food elimination process, pay attention to how your body responds and how you feel mentally. If you are miserable and obsessing over the foods you can’t have, is it worth it? How and what we eat is very personal and dependent upon so many factors: preferences, physiology, activity level, goals, etc. Just because a food elimination works well for me, doesn't mean it's right for you. And just because a food elimination works well for you, doesn't mean it's right for me.
The foods we eat have a powerful influence on our health and well-being. It can be tricky to determine what way of eating allows both abundant health and a sense of food freedom. In general, restrictive diets are not the key to success. However, sometimes cutting out a food or food group IS the way to go! Have you ever had to eliminate a food? What was your experience?
Know someone who suffers from terrible period pain? Share this with her for additional consideration.
If food has you stressed or feeling guilty on the regular, it's time to try something different. Let's chat about coaching.
Thanks for reading!