One-week challenge: dairy

One-week challenge: dairy

One-week challenge: dairy

Because I believe that there is no one diet, fitness regimen, daily routine, or productivity program that suits everyone, I would like to begin conducting one-week challenges (alternating elimination or inclusion of a specific food item/group). Experimenting through trial and error is a great way to figure out what may or may not work for a person and, while there has been a lot of hullaballoo about dairy products—from causing lactose intolerance to acne to cancer—not all reports and studies pertain to every person on the planet; therefore, I invite you to join me (yes, I will be including myself in these challenges) for one week, from Thursday, 12/5/13 – Wednesday, 12/11/13, to find out how we react to eliminating dairy from our diet. As a thank you, anyone who participates in this challenge will be entered into a random drawing to win a FREE one-hour nutrition consultation with me ($125 US value).

According to the USDA, dairy is defined as “fluid milk products and foods made from milk that retain their calcium,” which means that cream cheese, cream, and butter are not included in the dairy group, but calcium-fortified soymilk is. For this challenge, however, I would like to include all products that are made from animal’s milk, meaning that we would eliminate fluid milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, etc., but can keep soymilk in our diets for the week.

What you need to know: fluid milk products contain carbohydrates (lactose, a milk sugar), protein (casein and whey), fat (saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, and cholesterol), vitamins A, D, and B2 (riboflavin), and the minerals calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sodium chloride, and sulfur. Many fermented milk foods like cheese and yogurt contain less vitamins and carbs than their fluid counterparts since most are lost in production, but they still contain protein, fat (mostly saturated and cholesterol unless you choose a low-fat or non-fat version), and the minerals calcium, phosphorous, zinc, and sodium.

What you need to substitute: to be sure you’re replacing the beneficial nutrients you’d normally be getting in dairy, I suggest you consider the below as viable options.

  • vitamin A – sweet potato, carrots, spinach, kale, collard greens
  • vitamin B2 – whole grain Total cereal, oatmeal, eggs, mushrooms
  • vitamin D – salmon, sardines, or go play outside for 20 minutes every other day
  • calcium – collard greens, sardines, kale, salmon, eggs, and calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice and tofu (note: spinach, while high in calcium, has a low bioavailability/absorption rate due to the naturally occurring oxalates found in it, so you wouldn’t be getting quite the calcium bang for your buck on this one)
  • magnesium – halibut, spinach, black beans

Should you choose to take part in this challenge, please e-mail me or submit a note in the comments below by 8pm ET on Wednesday, 12/4/13. I will ask you to take a starting weight (which you will not share publicly) and keep a daily log of your progress including any issues that arise or seem to lessen. You may document your progress in the comments here daily, if you wish, though, at the end of the challenge, I will send you an anonymous survey to complete and then post the results on this blog.

Thanks in advance to those of you interested in participating. I look forward to seeing what this challenge holds for us!

Photo credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison