There are a range of reasons why individuals may not eat dairy – they may be lactose intolerant; they may prefer to avoid dairy as it does against the principles of a specific dietary regime such as a Paleo approach; they may not like the idea of consuming dairy or they may think dairy contributes to weight gain. Whatever the reason you choose not to eat dairy, here are some things to be aware of.
1. Dairy free diets are notoriously low in calcium. As dairy foods including yoghurt, cheese and milk are exceptionally high in calcium, suddenly eliminating this as a dietary source can result in a much lower intake of dietary calcium. For this reason, making sure you are getting the 1000mg per day required for optimal bone health from other sources such as leafy greens, nuts and tinned fish is imperative. It is too late once you have a bone fracture or brittle bones.
2. Often nut and rice milks are chosen as an alternative to dairy milk but these tend to be relatively low in calcium compared to dairy milk and they also can contain added sugars and oils so check your labels carefully.
3. Often individuals skip dairy altogether when they are lactose intolerant rather than seek out calcium rich lactose free dairy foods including various milks, yoghurts and hard cheeses.
4. You would need to eat 4 cups of greens to even come close to getting a decent serve of calcium with an entire cup of cooked spinach containing as much calcium a a single glass of milk. It is also important to remember that these dietary sources of calcium are not overly well absorbed.
5. Dairy foods do not lead to weight gain as is commonly thought. Rather dairy foods are associated with weight control and smaller waist measurements when they are consumed as part of a calorie controlled diet.
Try some of my favourite dairy free recipes here.