It's so hard to quit you.
Dairy: another foodstuff that tends to spark quite a bit of controversy.
On an antibiotic? Girl, best eat some yogurt!
Worried about your bones? Sip sip sip some milk (which, milk in and of itself is a river of white, creamery confusion to navigate). Some claim that pasteurized, low-fat milk is the healthiest choice, while others say that raw, full-fat dairy is the way to go. Others are adamant that dairy should not be eaten at all.
Oh, dairy. Some people love it. Some people loathe it.
Me? I choose to stay away from dairy for personal reasons, and it’s one of the first food items I recommend experimenting with eliminating if a client is having sinus or allergy issues, skin problems, or digestive dis-ease.
Considering that my seasonal allergies and quarterly sinus infections completely disappeared once I eliminated dairy from my diet (Claritin free since 2012!), I am personally of the “no dairy” school of thought, for myself, but, as I will continue to make as clear as I can: I am a firm believer in no one right diet for all, and I invite you to explore how you feel with and without dairy.
(Especially because correlation does not imply causation.)
It took me a full year to completely get off of dairy, but I will tell you this with scout’s honor: I never crave or even want dairy anymore.
Why is dairy so hard to quit?
Dr. Neal Barnard, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), explains that “It appears that the opiates from mother’s milk produce a calming effect on the infant and, in fact, may be responsible for a good measure of the mother-infant bond. No, it’s not all lullabies and cooing. Psychological bonds always have a physical underpinning. Like it or not, mother’s milk has a drug-like effect on the baby’s brain that ensures that the baby will bond with Mom and continue to nurse and get the nutrients all babies need. Like heroin or codeine, casomorphins slow intestinal movements and have a decided antidiarrheal effect. The opiate effect may be why adults often find that cheese can be constipating, just as opiate painkillers are.”
The European Food Safety Authority reviewed the potential health impact of β-casomorphins and related peptides and the opioid effect Dr. Barnard refers to, and to explore whether casomorphins present in cheese have a negative impact on health and/or the addictive capacity of opioid drugs.
All in all, it seems that more study is needed before any conclusive answer can be reached. As with most of these hot topic food pieces (gluten, caffeine, soy, etc)—we can study until we’re blue in the face, but the main issue is:
How do YOU respond to dairy?
All of this study on the casomorphins in cheese and the effect on humans only informs us as to whether or not cheese is addictive, or why cheese is so hard to give up.
The casomorphins aren’t the problem: it’s the lactose sugar that causes the issue.
Some indicators that you may have an issue with dairy:
Pain or cramps in the lower belly
Gurgling or rumbling sounds in the lower belly
Loose stools or diarrhea. Sometimes the stools are foamy
Have you ever considered removing dairy from your diet?
Dairy can be a tricky food group to eliminate: milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, and butter are featured predominantly in our favorite foods, from pizza to ice cream to cheesecake and creme brulee, dairy was by far the hardest food that I left behind.
Again, it took me a full year to say ciao, so I get it. But I've never looked back.
The above is an excerpt from the full section on dairy in my upcoming book, tentatively named "Glowing Goddess Guru Beast Mode."