I Gave Up Dairy for 21 Days—Here's What Happened to My Skin and Body

Before we get into it, let's get this straight: I like ice cream, cheese, butter, a lot of butter, my coffee extra creamy, and a little bit of sour cream here and there. All of those have one common denominator: dairy. So as you can imagine, going dairy-free wasn't exactly easy-peasy for me. It sounded like a great idea for a while, well, until I actually had to commit to it. I've been on a bit of a health kick, and becoming keenly aware of what I put into my body has been top of mind lately. 

I started to notice that every time I consumed a lot of dairy, I immediately felt sick to my stomach afterward. It was like a food baby was sitting my pelvic area for hours, sometimes full days—like bloating on steroids—and nothing I did could solve it. I suffered from extreme acid reflux issues after eating dairy, and one day it got so bad that I had to call out of work because I was having breathing issues. Overall, I felt a severely sluggish after eating dairy and wouldn't do as well during my workouts. I wasn't sure if it had a direct correlation to my breakouts, but they were alive and prominent on my skin. 

"There is more carbohydrate, aka sugar, in lower- or nonfat dairy products, and without the fat to balance the nutrients, this disrupts the endocrine system, which means hormones getting out of wack. It interferes with weight management, increases acne, and a whole host of other problems," explains Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Nutritious Life. "Those who are intolerant to lactose will experience discomfort, cramping, and bloating upon consumption because they lack the proper enzymes needed to properly digest this milk protein. So aside from those who are lactose intolerant, and of course those with milk allergy, I recommend portion-controlled, full-fat organic dairy in limited amounts—usually one serving per day." 

Based on my symptoms and the side effects Glassman described, I most certainly could be lactose intolerant. So I decided to give up dairy for 21 days (since that's how long it takes to form a habit). Here's how it all went down when I made these changes.