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What Happens To Your Body When You Give Up Dairy

Posted on: by Wanita Nicol
A bowl full of grated cheese made from dairy

Photography by Pixabay

The answers might just surprise you…

Keen to ditch dairy products as part of your eat-clean New Year’s resolution? Here’s what you can expect.

Your nose will be less stuffy.

“At risk of sounding like a class A hipster, I gave up dairy long before it was cool,” says deputy ed, Wanita Nicol. “I was 15 or 16 and suffering from chronic sinusitis. I couldn’t really breathe through my nose, smell or taste and I breathed like Darth Vader crossed with a pug.” Yet it was good-old teenage insecurity, rather than discomfort, that eventually got her to the doctor. “Sleeping over at friends’ houses was becoming a real problem for me because I snored. My GP recommended I try giving up both dairy and sugar for two weeks. I hoped it wouldn’t work because I loved nothing better than a toasted cheese sandwich washed down with a glass of milk, plus I had a major sweet tooth, but within a week I was already breathing better.”

You’ll get fewer headaches.

She also suffered from chronic headaches, which disappeared within weeks of going dairy-free. “I think you don’t always notice how bad you feel until you don’t feel bad anymore,” she says. “It sounds weird, but I didn’t even notice I always had a dull headache because I was used to it. When it suddenly wasn’t there anymore, I I couldn’t believe I’d been living like that for years.”

Your stomach will be happier.

“The truth is, I went to my GP because I suspected I might be sensitive to dairy,” Wanita admits. Her mom had a dairy intolerance and, as a child, her brother had been severely allergic. “I would often feel extremely nauseous after drinking milk,” she recalls. “But I loved it so much I didn’t tell anyone; I’d just got lie down for a bit and try breathe through the nausea.” As soon as she gave up dairy, her regular bouts of queasiness disappeared.

Your skin will be clearer.

Although Wanita initially gave up all dairy products, after a few years, she started eating cheese again. “I just love it so much, I had to have it,” she confesses. Cheese didn’t affect her sinuses and stomach as badly so she felt she could get away with it. That is, until a friend who’d also given up dairy told her it affected her skin. “I realised that my bad skin might not just be acne, but an allergic response. I saw a dermatologist who confirmed that I had eczema. That was the final nail in the coffin for my relationship with dairy.”

You’ll still be able to eat at restaurants.

“Ten years ago, it was a real slog to eat out and I had to get used to black coffee and tea very quickly,” recalls Wanita. “These days though, there are so many options. You can almost always get soya or almond milk at coffee shops and restaurants are a lot more amenable to adapting a meal so that it’s dairy free. That said, risotto and Mexican food are two things I now only get to have if I make them myself.”

You may still be able to eat cheese.

Wanita found that she’s not nearly as sensitive to goat’s milk and sheep’s milk as she is to cow’s milk. “So when I cook at home I still have feta in my Greek salad and cheese on my nachos – I just use goat’s cheese, which you can buy in most supermarkets. It’s more expensive, so I don’t use nearly as much, which is probably good for my health and my waistline!”

Eating clean is just the beginning… Ready to transform your entire body? Sign up for Women’s Health’s Lean Body Blitz 12-week eating and fitness plan and watch the new, toned you take shape.

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  • E.

    So, for this highly scientific piece, you did diligent research, questioning a wide ranging sample size of … 1 person, being yourself?