I grew up eating a lot of Ukrainian food. This meant that there was a lot of dairy in my diet. To say that I loved dairy is an understatement. I ate dairy every day and didn’t see what the point of having food without it was. As I got older, though, dairy stopped loving me.
My Stomach Hurt Every Time I Ate Dairy
I had suffered from pain in my body since being a teenager. My back was always hurting, and I had a ton of migraines. I also had a lot of joint pain, especially in my hands.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when I was about 18. By my late 30s, I was tired of always feeling sick. I didn’t know it at the time, but hypothyroidism was going to finally be diagnosed in my near future. I had spent years getting tests done for various issues and nothing ever showed up. So, I finally just accepted that I had Fibromyalgia and my life was going to be full of pain.
However, an issue with my stomach hurting after eating was obviously caused by food. More specifically, dairy. I knew that dairy was the culprit because, during the very rare occasion that I didn’t have dairy in a meal, my stomach was fine.
Every time I complained of stomach pain after eating, my husband lovingly reminded me that the reason my stomach hurt was likely because of dairy and suggested that maybe I should cut it out of my diet and see what would happen.
I avoided the issue for years after realizing that dairy was likely the problem. Dairy had been a part of my life every single day since I was a kid, and I didn’t want to give it up. The thought terrified me. I didn’t think I would ever enjoy food without dairy.
Suddenly It Wasn’t Just About Me
While I was putting off cutting out dairy from my diet, my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
My husband was having some pretty severe symptoms at the time, which is what led to the diagnosis. The MRI made it all very real. It showed many lesions on his brain.
I read everything about MS as soon as we found out. One of the things that I kept coming across was that it is not recommended that you eat dairy when you have MS. I read an article similar to this one that mentioned dairy could stimulate the immune system and cause more lesions to develop on the brain.
As I did my research on how to best go forward for his health I found that there were many articles that talked about why cutting out animal fat is important for MS.
I Finally Made The Decision To Cut Out Dairy
I knew my health was at stake. It was obvious dairy was doing something to my body that was not good, and I didn’t know what could eventually arise from constantly forcing my body to deal with something it didn’t want.
But even more important at the time, was that I wanted to do everything I could to make my husband as healthy as possible.
The fact was that he didn’t really care about eating dairy. He could live with or without it. In fact, when he ate alone or cooked, he didn’t include dairy in his dishes. He enjoyed stir fry more than anything. Therefore, it was me who was holding us back from seeing how our health could improve by cutting it out of our diets.
As soon as the pain of knowing that became too much for me to handle, I didn’t just want to try to cut out dairy from my diet, I wanted to cut it out forever.
I allowed myself to watch What The Health, which I had been avoiding watching for a long time because I knew that it would likely make me want to cut out dairy from my diet. The documentary added many reasons for not wanting to eat dairy anymore, most of which was the link between dairy foods and autoimmune diseases.
It finally solidified the decision in my mind. Dairy was not doing me or my husband any good and it needed to go.
The Results Were Instant For Me
Once I cut out dairy, my stomach stopped bloating up and hurting. It wasn’t a gradual thing. Within a day, I felt 100% better.
I still wanted to eat dairy on some level, but I had firmly decided that it was no longer going to be a part of my diet. Enjoying food without a ton of pain afterward was pretty awesome. And knowing that I was probably doing something really good for our health made the results feel even better.
Interestingly, a lot of the pain in my body also disappeared. I haven’t had a migraine since I stopped eating dairy. My constant backaches and joint pain also mostly stopped after I stopped eating dairy. I still had pain once in a while, but nothing like what I had dealt with for about 20 years. And once I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and got on some medication, the rest of my pain went away.
It seems like the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia was wrong. I’ve since learned that dairy was likely causing a lot of inflammation in my body and that’s where a lot of the pain and problems were stemming from.
After we cut out dairy from our diet, my husband’s symptoms cleared up and, besides one flare-up during a really stressful time in his life, he hasn’t had any issues.
It Wasn’t Easy At First, But It Got Much Better
As I said, dairy was a huge part of my life.
Before cutting out dairy, we always celebrated things at a local restaurant where I ordered an appetizer and main dish – both with lots of cheese. I didn’t know what we would eat for celebrations anymore.
And dinner at our family’s homes became a struggle. My husband’s mom is Italian and she would put out all kinds of cheeses that I loved out after big meals that we couldn’t eat anymore. And my parents were used to my love of cheese and didn’t know what else to serve me as I hadn’t eaten meat since I was young.
To our families, it seemed like there was nothing we could eat, and sometimes in the beginning I felt like that too.
Lastly, there were days that we would go to a supermarket and see new dairy products that I wanted so badly I could taste them. It was almost painful that I couldn’t have them.
But each time I wanted to eat dairy, I reminded myself that our health was more important than eating something like a piece of cheese. Then I would get to work making vegan alternatives that would help me satisfy my need for dairy.
Eventually, I found some dairy-free products and recipes that were satisfying. Over time, I became an excellent vegan cook and can now cook full delicious meals that even my parents love.
I also educated myself around dairy, including how it impacts health and how the dairy industry functions, and now the thought of eating dairy is disgusting to me.
I’ve been dairy-free for over two years now. I have discovered many dairy replacements that I love more than I ever loved dairy, which I would have never thought possible a few years ago.
Best of all, I feel good knowing that I am doing something positive for my health and my husband’s health.
The only regret I have is not cutting out dairy from my diet sooner.
In the end, dairy and I will never be friends again.
If you want to give it a try, then take the dairy-free challenge and see how it could impact you.