Like many people, I have some issues when it comes to dairy. After eating anything with a moderate to high amount of dairy in it, I tend to become bloated and miserable. Sometimes my jeans don't even fit. So I decided to do something I never thought I would do . . . give up dairy for a week! You see, I love creamer in my coffee, I pride myself on my baking abilities, and every Tuesday my dad and I have root beer floats together. But I did it, and here's my experience of living without dairy for seven days.
In the Beginning
When I started this week-long dairy-free journey, I was a bit of a nervous wreck. What if my friends wanted to go out for pizza? (Serious FOMO.) What would I put in my coffee? (I don't like it black.) What about baking? Are there even any decent dairy alternatives for baking? And how do I tell my dad I'm skipping root-beer-float night? Luckily, things started to resolve and my nerves calmed a bit.
First off, the coffee situation was solved pretty quickly, thanks to my best friend. She offered me some Nutpods plant-based coffee creamer that can be used in just about anything you'd put cream in: coffee, tea, or cooking. The "creamer" also comes in really great flavors, like Hazelnut and French Vanilla, if you want to make your morning cup feel special. While the creamer is unsweetened, it tastes so good that I didn't really need any sugar in my coffee. A double win, for sure!
As for baking, instead of making things with milk or butter like cakes and cookies, I was able to try my hand at using shortening as the fat in my baked goods. I ended up not exactly loving what I made but considered it a work-in-progress since I was experimenting with ingredients I hadn't used before. When weekly root-beer-float night came along, my dad and I were both so full from dinner that no one wanted dessert, so I dodged a major bullet there!
Middle of the Week
In the middle of the week, I started to notice some things were getting easier; I was actually enjoying the taste of my coffee and learning not to freak out when someone offered me cheese. I also noticed that my bloating had started to ease a bit, and my jeans zipped up easier since eliminating dairy from my diet.
One thing I didn't like, though: my face started to break out in some areas. While this might not be directly related to giving up dairy, that was the only thing in my lifestyle I'd changed recently. Obviously, having some spots on my face wasn't ideal, but sometimes it happens, so it's not a total deal-breaker. But what happened at the end of the week was!
End of the Week
The end of my week without dairy was right around Father's Day, and my dad really wanted a cake. Since I'm the baker in my family, I said I would make it. Most cakes contain some kind of dairy, so I knew I was either going to have to make a dairy-free cake and hope my dad didn't notice or make a cake but not eat it — neither option seemed all that great. I decided to do the latter; my dad is my personal hero, and he deserves the best cake I can make. As much as I wanted to give up this week-without-dairy thing and eat a piece of this cake I made, I held strong for the last two days.
Will I Keep Going?
If I'm being honest with you here, no. I like cheese and cake too much to go without dairy forever. In the process, though, I did find some great dairy alternatives for both coffee and baking — hopefully using these in my life will help calm my bloating issues. But I won't be missing another root-beer-float night with my dad. Those moments are just too special to leave behind forever.