The Bloat-Series: Giving up dairy 100% and how it changed my life.
Bloating is one of those things that I could honestly write a full encyclopedia on AND dedicate an entire YouTube channel to becuase it's such a complex issue that I fortunately and unfortunately dealt with EVERY DAY for two years because of Gastropareis. So, let's just say I know a lil' something about the topic and have accumulated an endless list of yays and nays for avoiding arguabley one of the worst feelings a woman can experience in her day-to day life.
Anywho, staying on topic for sake of organization here, I'm starting with dairy. Yes, I know so many of you have heard that dairy isn't the best for you and that maybe, just maybe it will worsen your bloating---but a little bit here and there won't hurt? Especially if its, let's say, a probiotic rich yogurt that promises to HELP your tummy troubles? Can't be that bad and it's definitely not the reason your bloated....?!
News-Flash babes: dairy is inflammatory. INFLAMMATORY- meaning that when we consume it, our body reacts negatively no matter what and the severity depends on the person. This is separate from being lactose intolerant which just means that you don't make enough of the enzyme lactase to break down the sugar called lactose. So no matter where ya get it, if its organic, has probiotics, is "low-lactose" or anything else making it look innocent and yummy, fact is, human beings were not designed to consume the milk of another animal, given that milk was MADE FOR nourishing their own species young. It's one of those things that if you step out of your box of denial (don't feel bad, my box was so big I needed a ladder to get out--LOL I loved YougurtLand) and think about it from a biological standpoint, our gut's bacteria was designed to breakdown our own mother's milk only up until the age of 2! Why do we think our bodies would like to 1) consume milk of any kind after that 2) consume ANOTHER animal's milk ever but especially after age 2! Its kinda riduclouls when you think about it--but we all love the taste of ice cream and pizza so we justify it for our own comfort's sake (that's the psych major talkin').
But ok, so now that you know how unnatural it is for our bodies to eat dairy, hopefully you can see how it may be affecting your tendency to bloat.
I persoanlly LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the taste of dairy...especially frozen yogurt. In fact, up until 3 years ago, YogurtLand was my JAM. I'd "treat myself" once a week to a cup of cake batter, cookies and cream and strawberry froyo, pop a few dairy-digest pills, and pretend my discomfort over the day or so was unrelated. Yeah...no. To make matters worse, I would eat greek yogurt as a snack regularly, buying into the idea that it was the health and fitness industry's best new healthy obsession. This was back when I was in the process of recovering from my scare with Gastroparesis and was trying to figure out how to not be bloated every single day. It was easy for me to just wave off the little bits of dairy here and there and that weekly splurge at Yogurt Land as not enough to be contributing to my bloating...like, I even took a dairy-digest pill!! I was safe, right?!
Well, like a lot of things in my life, a light switch went off one day after eating a greek yogurt for snack (...and after poping the digest-aid) and feeling...yucky. My stomach was distending a little, I could feel gas bubbles moving in my stomach and I literally wanted to cry. Not because "god forbid I get bloated", but because I knew the facts. I knew that dairy in any amount was no good and that I was sabotaging my desire to have a flat stomach by justifying having it because I enjoyed the taste in the moment. I was done feeling gross and contributing to an industry that FYI is high-key disturbing, unless you get any and all of your dairy from a local, organic, family owned farm (but even that is just from a moral standpoint--either way ya body doesn't like dairy.)
So, as one of my first steps to decode my bloating (besides by condition), I cut it out cold turkey--I do things like that! Given it helped that I was bloated literally every day, my level of "done-ness" was off the charts, so saying bye-bye to greek yogurt and Yogurt Land really wasnt THAT hard.
But either way, I would ask yourself, what is dairy doing for me? Do I just enjoy the taste? If so, there as so many dairy-free alternatives out there that honestly, taste like the real deal. Do you think it's a calcium issue? This should be the least of your worries as MANY other foods are very rich in calcium (the dairy industry just makes it a big deal so they scare everyone into buying their products--sorry, it's the truth, doves).
But anyways, after deciding to call it quits, I went all out. I made sure that I wasn't having little bits here and there and waving it off as "it's not that much" or "this won't hurt"--I truly cut it out for good. And....AHHHHHH WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS SOONER!! It took about 2 weeks of absolutely no dairy for me to really feel a difference. Overall, I felt more comfortable, by bloated stomach was certainly less bloated, and my mood was better because it wasnt getting ticked off by the little bits of discomfort that I waved off as part of eating--part of life.
That was one of the first times I realized that a lot of things that we shrug off as just something we have to deal with, we don't actually have to deal with--it just seems easier to do so (like eating dairy cuz its easier to keep it in our diets.) In reality, its not easier--it causes this low-grade stress because we never feel 100%. Take it from me, making changes that seem too hard are usually the easiest to stick to once we get in the swing of things.
After that, I just saw dairy differently. After feeling the difference of having it in my diet versus not, and going out of my way to educate myself on it's nasty effects on the body, I was sold--tenfold. It felt so much better to not only be less bloated, but to be more educated on the industry as a whole and I felt more responsible as a human being as I turned down one of the nastiest industries in our country. It just wasn't worth it for me anymore and I swear by going 100% dairy free for controlling bloating and for overall health.
So, that's my crazy dairy story and you can probably tell I'm super passionate about being dairy free--but when it comes to my body, I don't play around. If you still eat it here and there or even if you are an all out cheese addict...give it a shot. Let go. If in two weeks you decide the bloating is worth it, go for it. Ice cream and cheese will still be there, but at least you'll have given the dairy-free life a try :)!