Transition to Health: Step Four
4. Replace Dairy Milk
The fourth change I encourage individuals to make on the road to a healthier diet is to cut the animal milk out. Eliminating a certain food from a diet can be daunting at first but milk has many detrimental effects and doesn’t contribute enough benefits to outweigh those detriments. If at the end of your health journey (there are 13 steps altogether) you decide to include dairy milk in your diet on a rare occasion that is your decision. However, an important step towards becoming healthier is to stop the consumption of an addictive substance before it has the possibility of being included in the diet once again.
You can look into the extensive science backing severely decreasing or entirely eliminating dairy from the western diet in Robert’s article, Is dairy milk bad for human health? I will skim some of the reasons why including milk in the diet isn’t a good idea.
- Milk is known to cause or adversely affect acne. There are multiple reasons why individuals get acne (genes, hormones, refined grain intake, etc.) but if you suffer from acne cutting milk from your diet may substantially help the status of your acne.
- Milk can accelerate aging. This means that milk may not simply cause early crow’s feet and wrinkles on your skin but actually age your whole body. The whole body could deteriorate faster if you consume milk. Yikes!
- Dairy (milk included) increases the risk for individuals to develop prostate and ovarian cancers and may also increase the risk for developing other types of cancers, infections and tumors as well. Those hormones found in dairy milk can have substantial negative effects on how our cells choose to reproduce.
- Dairy increases risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, MS and Parkinson’s.
- As milk contains trans fats, saturated fat and cholesterol, drinking milk will put you at a greater risk of developing heart disease than those that don’t drink milk.
You can see that choosing to drink milk has many adverse effects on the human body in the short- and long-term. Drinking milk can cause you to gain weight as drinking calories in the form of milk (or any liquid really) increases the amount of calories that are consumed without providing satiety that fiber offers. Liquid calories and animal products are both void of fiber that causes individuals to feel satisfied without providing meaningful amounts of energy.
Another reason to ditch the milk is to decrease your grocery bill. You may only buy a few dollars’ worth of milk per week but if you stop buying milk for the entire year, you could save yourself $156 (USD) each year.* While that isn’t like winning the lottery, you could give yourself a spa experience once per year for that price. Even if you decided that you did want to replace dairy milk with a plant-based milk, making your own soy, almond or rice milk at home would be substantially cheaper than buying dairy or nondairy milks at the grocery store.
Most individuals use dairy milk out of habit. There are many tasty, healthier alternatives available if people are open to changing their behavior and trying new products. Non-dairy milks can be made out of an impressive number of foods nowadays. Rice milk, quinoa milk, oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, hemp milk and tiger nut milk among others are available commercially. You can make your own nut-, seed- or grain-based milks that aren’t easily available commercially such as walnut, sunflower or rye milk. You could even choose to make a milk out of bananas, like my Warming Banana Milk! With so many different flavor options, there is bound to be a non-dairy milk flavor for everybody.
Omitting milk may seem difficult at first but it is in fact quite easy. The first thing you want to do is stop purchasing dairy milks and finish whatever you have left. If you desire, you can choose to wean yourself off milk over the course of a week or two but it isn’t necessary. Decide if you want an alternative milk and purchase/make one as you see fit. Individuals coming from dairy milk may be more comfortable with a higher-fat milk such as almond or soy milk rather than low-fat rice milk. You may want a replacement if you cook with dairy often and/or have cereal for breakfast in the morning (banana milk won’t work for cooking but it will for cereal). If you decide to keep a non-dairy milk around, simply use it whenever you would normally use dairy milk. If you choose to omit milk (dairy and non-dairy) from your diet, I find that using water or vegetable stock is sufficient in most cooking, baking and other food preparation practices.
* On average Americans aged 20+ drink 5.25 cups of milk per week. I estimated that the cost of an individual drinking that amount of milk per week would cost $3. I suspect that intake is actually higher and these statistics don’t account for the amount of milk that individuals consume in prepared foodstuffs.