the dairy dilemma.

traveling again this weekend, this time to colorado, i was shocked to land in my frigid cold home state and not experience the one thing that always greets me (other than my sweet family):  P-A-I-N. anyone with injuries knows that the cold just makes it that much more painful. (i’m just now realizing that i’m starting to sound old…wonderful.)

for years now i’ve just become accustomed to having a constant, aching pain in the tush (literally) when the temps drop. feeling no pain in the midst of the frozen tundra was my first realization that maybe, just maybe, this whole 6-week program i’m undergoing might be working. not that i doubt the experts to which i’ve basically given full rein over my bod, but patience is not a virtue that i possess so if i don’t see immediate results, i often bail. so after 3 weeks of not exercising near as hard, and eating completely gluten-free, dairy-free, no sugar, and limited alcohol (okay, except for my stint in nashville, where i got bucked off for a wee bit) – it’s encouraging to see some progress.

but that wasn’t my only ah-ha moment.


settling in at the nail salon to get my french mani, the nail tech removed my blackish-purple vampy polish to reveal my naked little nail beds that sported white spots, common when you’re calcium deficient. now, those are rare for this dairy lover.  like one thing i’ve never had to take is a calcium supplement. only my mom and grandma took those viactiv chewy things (religiously). but when the sweet nail tech commented, i knew i might need to look into this a bit more.  health advice from my nail girl:

“you drink milk? you need drink milk. 1 glass in morning. you need drink milk. good for nail.”

okay, okay! i drink milk. but wait – dairy causes inflammation right? of course i had to dive into this dairy dilemma. note: erica didn’t say i couldn’t ever have dairy again, “elimination diets” just aren’t healthy or extended periods of time, but they are valuable in identifying food sensitivities and seeing how different foods affect your body.  [p.s. this is why we journal food!] and everything i’ve read, dairy does cause inflammation so erica wanted me to avoid it while we’re working to heal this injury.  her point being i was probably overdoing dairy so i’ll be able to re-introduce it, maybe just not quite to the extent as before.  which makes sense, i mean…i love dairy. let me count thy ways:

  1. non-fat milk: low-fat milk is fine for you too, i just prefer the taste of skim…mom called it my “blue milk”.  i do choose to use unsweetened almond milk in my smoothies because it has half the calories, which i don’t need when just adding to a protein shake. but remember: almond milk doesn’t have near the amount of calcium or protein as moo milk!
  2. cream in my coffee: i have just a tad now every now (compared to what i used to), but opt for this over fake creamers.
  3. greek yogurt: i heart my greek yogurt and miss it dearly – it’s such a quick way to get a high-protein snack!  tip: always choose plain with no added sugars.
  4. cottage cheese: not everyone loves ‘curds & whey’ but it’s a fab source of protein, calcium, and contains casein protein which help with muscle growth so it’s a perfect evening snack.
  5. froyo: oh, my beloved (sugar-packed) frozen yogurt…it’s a double no-no on my #optimalbod anti-inflammation eating plan and i haven’t had it in weeks, but as with all things, it’s not bad for you (in moderation).
  6. cheese: i avoid cheese in most restaurants unless i can see them shredding it freshly over my meal – because most cheeses aren’t really cheese at all, but highly-processed. avoid low-fat or fat-free cheese at all costs: they are just packed with chemicals and added sugars and frankly, they aren’t good for you! opt for sharp flavored, aged cheese.

because i have been harped on by my momma my entire life about getting enough calcium, it was only natural for me to quickly research this and get erica’s input on what to do. here’s what i found:

“moderate intake of low-fat dairy can actually guard against inflammation, whole milk or even two-percent is still high in saturated fat and could mean trouble. But a majority of adults have at least some difficulty digesting milk, so overdoing it could trigger a true inflammatory reaction.” [huffington post]

so here’s our 3-part plan of action to solve this dairy dilemma:

  1. eat aged cheese
    your body processes aged cheeses differently than highly processed, non-aged cheeses. bonus: it contains little to no lactose so even if you’re lactose intolerant, you can stomach aged cheese. plus it contains tons of nutrients like calcium (obviously), protein, zinc, vitamins A + B12, enzymes, and probiotics. opt for sharp flavors that have been aged for at least 3 months. try aged gouda, sharp cheddar, parmigiano, goat, and blue cheese.  erica recommends adding in just 1oz of aged cheese per day as i slowly introduce dairy back in.
  2. eat non-dairy calcium-rich foods
    dairy may be the most popular, but it isn’t the only source of calcium.  this list from greatist is healthy guide for a (surprising) dairy-free sources including: white beans, blackstrap molasses, kale, almonds, oranges, seaweed, orange juice (fortified)…and more. (just skip 16-18, not a fan of soy, sorry. #soysorry)
  3. take a supplement
    most women over age 19 need at least 1000mg calcium per day - and my wee little 1 ounce of cheese packs in only 150-200mg, so it’s important to add in a supplement. little known fact: your body can ONLY process 500mg of calcium at a time, so even if you take only a supplement to get your calcium (which i don’t recommend), take 500mg in the morning and 500mg at night. my mom was poppin’ both with her breakfast which was a waste!  split it into 2-500mg doses for maximal absorption into your system.  i like the rainbow light one multi-vitamin (200mg calcium, 100% natural and food-based, dairy-free, gluten-free + added probiotics) but i also like these gummy calcium chews  (500mg calcium) because, well i personally take them because they taste like candy. hey, whatever it takes!

track your calcium intake just for one week when you log your food. are you getting at least 1000mg per day? if not, you might wanna. i mean, i may be complainin’ about my aches & pains now like a little old lady, but i guarantee in another 30 years when my bones are strong and healthy, i’ll be glad i took the time to be healthy now. i am dead-set on being a hot little old lady (hey, a girl can dream), but being hunched over with osteoporosis is oh-so-not-sexy. just sayin’.

now, off to cut some cheese. (ha! i crack myself up.)


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