The number one benefit of eliminating milk and soy is my daughter’s health, but I have found that it has benefited my health as well. Here are just the major ways that I think my new diet has helped me:
- Weight loss: I have struggled with my weight for my entire adult life, to the point that I was considered morbidly obese at only 23 years old. While I have found success in following the WW point concept, I have never found it as easy to lose weight as the last few months. My disclaimer here is that I am also a nursing mother, which really helps in losing weight. But when I say that eliminating milk and soy has helped me to lose weight, I mean that it has helped me to make better food choices. I didn’t realize the amount of recipes my husband and I were making with cheese until I couldn’t have it any more. All of the sudden the meals that we were choosing to prepare were low calorie and low fat without trying. In addition to meal selection, this is the easiest it has ever been to avoid temptation. I’m sure all of us have had those way-too-good-too-pass-up moments, like free donuts in the cafeteria, cupcakes for a co-worker’s birthday, or pizza in a lunch meeting. Now I don’t even have to attempt to talk myself out of it; I just know that I can’t have it and I move on. So its not that I am eating worse and losing more weight, I am simply making better choices without it being a conscious effort.
- Variety: I think everyone falls into food ruts, and it’s always good to find excuses to try new things. This was an awesome excuse for my husband and I. We both love to cook, and actually found the elimination of milk and soy as an exciting challenge. Initially, we were just looking for recipes without milk and soy products, and some just happened to contain ingredients that we had never tried before. The more success that we had, it became fun (and intentional) to try new foods. It seems odd that by cutting out foods, we have actually increased the variety in our diets; but in order to keep eating quality food with real flavor, we had to branch out.
- Awareness: I felt like I already had a bit of a head start when it came to eliminating hidden ingredients because I have an interest in eating natural foods. I had already cut out most prepackaged and processed foods which are full of surprising ingredients. It was still unbelievable to me the foods that contained dairy and soy ingredients. So as well as I thought I was doing eating “real” food, having to pay attention has given me so much more awareness of the food that I am putting into my body. There have actually been several occasions where I finished reading an ingredient label and found that it contained no dairy and soy, but I chose not to eat it because I was slightly horrified by the load of garbage I had to read through to discover I could eat it.
- Risk Avoidance (?): I don’t even know enough at this point to really understand the potential risks of milk and soy. I’ve been hearing for a few years about the supposed dangers of soy, but it’s so confusing – for every article you read about how bad soy is for you, you find one about the amazing health benefits that it provides. If you do an internet search for super foods, it won’t take you long to find a list with soy on it. Next search risks of soy, and you’ll find tons of information there too. So my point here is that without greater understanding, I think I probably am safer just staying away from soy. The same goes for milk. I have never been a big milk drinker, but there has been no shortage of dairy in my diet – yogurt, cheese, butter, cheese, ice cream, cheese… When I was in college, a vegan friend of mine explained the theory that people should never drink cow’s milk. After all, humans are the only species that drinks another species’ milk, or continues to drink milk past infancy at all for that matter. This theory made a lot of sense to me, but it was more of an interesting thought than a compelling point to make me change my diet. More recently, I have heard a lot of information to build on that theory; like the potential dangers of casein, and like the other possible side effects that cow’s milk can have on infants. I still have a lot to research and learn about the benefits and/or risks of both milk and soy, but I feel like until I do that, I am pretty safe avoiding both.
- I just feel better: I don’t know that it’s milk and soy specifically, or if its just a combination of all of the things I listed above, but I have been feeling generally better since I removed dairy and soy from my diet. I no longer feel like my food is weighing me down, and I feel much more confident in the nutritional choices that I am making. I used to suffer from frequent reflux, and took many over-the-counter medications to alleviate the symptoms. It’s been months since I have had any reflux discomfort at all. Actually, I used to have a lot of intermittent stomach issues, and never thought much of it. I just considered it normal. I don’t even think I realized it wasn’t normal until it went away when I changed my diet.
In my mind, all of these factors count doubly when I consider that everything I do to improve my health is directly impacting the health of my baby. For every difficulty that milk and soy elimination causes, it’s so easy for me to think of the many reasons it is all worth it.