Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hanker for a hunk o' cheese?

If you were a kid in the 80s I would hope you get the title of this post....

Who didn't love this walking hunk o cheese guy?!

We all know my love for all things cheese and dairy.  We also know that over the past month I have cut back drastically on my consumption of dairy.  I am happy to report that my face is almost 90% cleared up from acne!!!

I still have some scaring to deal with but have started using Clinque's dark spot corrector to slowly decrease the look of the scars. (so far so good!!)

I haven't given up dairy or cheese 100% but I have become more aware of when I eat it and if I really want it or am I choosing it just to have it.  I wanted to share some things I have noticed about my cravings and reactions I have had since reducing my intake over the past few weeks...  I hope this helps anyone else out there who is trying to balance a love for dairy and staying healthy (and acne free!)

The small wins: 

  • I used to put cheese on sandwiches, salads and on top of dishes "just because".  What I am realizing is I don't always need cheese on a dish to enhance the flavor.  
  • One major revelation was that I actually prefer sandwiches w/out cheese on them (this does not refer to cheeseburgers or grilled cheese sandwiches! those are holy food items that should not be messed with!)
  • Nutritional yeast which  I have blogged about before adds the perfect cheezy flavor to pasta dishes without the effects of cheese.  Yes I know, bad name but delicious and healthy alternative!
  • Coconut and Goat's milk yogurt are just as good as cow's milk yogurt.  Yes more expensive but since I am not eating it every day, it feels more like a treat to enjoy one every now and then.
  • Daiya Cheese!  This could be the jackpot so far.  This non-dairy shredded and sliced cheese taste so good that I managed to fool my parents a few weeks back (my mother is the self confessed queen of cheese!).  Again, a bit more expensive but as I am learning to savor cheese and not stuff it down my gullet I can reason out the price.
Listening to my body:
Growing up with an older sister who is lactose intolerant I thought I knew what a bad reaction to dairy meant.  Little did I know that the reaction can be so different to everybody.  For some it is intestinal problems, for others it means breaking out in hives.  For this foodie and cheese lover it meant acne...

Over the past few weeks I have noticed slight changes in my body when I eat cheese in small does.  (Nobody is saying no to a cheese plate at Supper Club or at Boston Bruncher Event).  Not only was my body trying to tell me to stay away from dairy through my face but in others way.  When I gave up dairy I realized I had a lot less phlegm production (over share I know), and an increase when I did. To the point that I actually felt like I had the early stages of a cold yesterday when I indulged in a chicken melt at work.

Another benefit is feeling lighter.  The scale isn't really moving but I don't feel bloated or groggy after a meal.  It might be that I am not stuffing my face with cheesy mac n' cheese and other ooey gooey treats but with more green and spicy foods. (ever noticed most asian, thai and even mexican food is sans dairy!) WOOHOO!

Going forward:
I am not saying that going dairy free 100% is in the cards for me or that my experiences will be the same for you.  What I am saying is that taking the time to listen to your body may result in learning a lot about yourself.  I went 31 years with bad acne and a stuffed up nose because I thought brie was the end all, be all... (i still think it is by the way).  Now I am just enjoying it a little less often!