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How Eliminating Dairy Changed My Life - Interview with Shayna Ross, Health Coach

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.netStudies show that less than 40% of people are able to digest after childhood. Despite the facts, dairy consumption into adulthood is considered the norm for Americans today, but often contributes to a variety of health issues of which most people are completely unaware. Advanced Neurotherapy’s resident health coach Shayna Ross discovered she is among the many who are sensitive to dairy products. We asked Shayna about her experiences before and after giving up dairy for good.

  1. What was going on before you decided to stop eating dairy? Were you having health issues?

I had been taken off of dairy when I was a child as I had chronic ear infections, which stopped when my parents stopped feeding me dairy.  At some point, as a child, I started eating dairy again and noticed that sometimes I wouldn’t feel great afterwards.  I thought I was lactose intolerant particularly if I had a lot of dairy in a short period of time, so I tried to have dairy less frequently.

The year after graduating college I started getting terrible stomachaches.  One morning I woke up with a small pain in my side and by that night I was in the fetal position on the emergency room floor.  I was in and out of the hospital for 6 months, I could not stand up straight due to pain, and no one could tell me what was wrong with me.

  1. What made you decide to quit dairy completely?

At some point at the end of those 6 months someone suggested that I cut wheat and dairy out of my diet.  I did so and within 2 weeks my pain had cut in half, my weight plummeted, I had more energy and I could see and think clearer.  It was like a fog lifted.

For a few years I would “cheat” now and then and have some dairy.  But when I did I would get a horrible headache, my sinuses would get congested, and my upper arms would swell.  My mom used to call them my “Popeye arms” and she could always tell when I had dairy.

  1. How long have you been dairy-free?

I believe I initially stopped consuming dairy the winter of 2002.  I don’t believe I have had any (except accidentally, which at this point is extremely rare) in probably about 5 years.

  1. What changes did you notice in the long term?

I continue to have fewer headaches, and the headaches that I do have do not generally require painkiller to get rid of them, where as the ones I had before required medication and sleep before any relief. I have kept the weight that I initially lost off, I think clearly and I have more energy.

  1. What happens now if you accidentally eat dairy? It does happen occasionally I’m sure.

I get a horrible headache, my upper arms swell, I get congested, and my thinking gets foggy – I have trouble thinking clearly, especially finding words, and I become lethargic.

Needless to say, this has made me feel that some of my favorite foods (mac and cheese for example, which I have not found a good substitute for) are just not worth the price.

  1. How would you recommend going about giving up dairy? Do you think quitting cold turkey is best or should it slowly get phased out?

I think that it depends on the person, how much dairy they consume before stopping, and how sensitive they are.  I generally recommend crowding dairy out of your diet.  Meaning, if you find good, healthy substitutes to dairy and eat those, you will automatically eat less or (ideally) no dairy because you can only eat so much food in a day.

That and as soon as you tell someone they can’t have something, it becomes the elephant in the room and all they want is that thing.  It’s human nature.

  1. Are there any resources you would recommend to people who are looking to give up dairy?
  • Gluten-Free and More magazine has lots of great dairy free recipes as well as substitution recommendations.
  • Substitutions – there are more and more every year.
  • Know what dairy can be found in…you might be surprised!
  • Learn the different names it can appear as including the multiple proteins in dairy (ex. casein, whey, lactose…) and avoid foods with those ingredients
  • Babycakes cookbook – this is an amazing vegan cookbook. While being dairy free does not mean that baking needs to be vegan (i.e., without eggs), it happens that these recipes are amazing!  My friends request that I make them for get togethers.  They can not believe that they are me-friendly.  A lot of the recipes (not all) are gluten-free as well.
  • It is ok to ask questions of wait staff at restaurants. Do not feel bad if you let them know you have a food allergy. They are legally required to help you. Being an “easy” patron is not worth getting sick.  Food allergies are more and more common these days and you can be accommodated, often easily.
  • Do not feel badly about bringing your own food to dinner at a friend’s house.If this will guarantee that you won’t get sick, it’s worth it.  Just speak with the host ahead of time and let them know that you would like to make things as easy for them as possible so you would like to bring your own food.  You can also ask what they are making so that you can make something as close to that as possible.  For example – if they are making lasagna, you could make pasta and sauce (or even lasagna) with a vegan cheese, or no cheese.

One more note from Shayna:  Detoxing from dairy can be a tough process.  Our bodies get very attached to dairy and to working harder to digest it.  As a result the cravings for dairy after removing it from ones life can be overwhelming.  However, if someone can be dairy-free for 2 weeks, the cravings will suddenly disappear, like someone hit a light switch.  However, if dairy is accidentally consumed again, the cravings will return and the 2 weeks begin again.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness , Treatment Modalities

Health & Wellness , Treatment Modalities

Posted in Health & Wellness Tagged Health & Wellness

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