This Week's Get Fit Challenge: Cut Dairy From Your Diet

The overconsumption of dairy has been linked to everything from bad belly bloat and weight gain to acne flare-ups. For this week's Get Fit For 2014 challenge, we're urging you to give up dairy products for just one week.

Why You Should Try

When you're dealing with digestive issues and downing a bunch of dairy products night after night, it can be hard to know if your discomfort stems from an issue related to milk and cheese. When many people go on a Paleo or vegan diet, they experience a huge spike in energy and healthy, consistent digestion for the first time in years; many contribute these shifts to the elimination of dairy from their daily diet. You'll never know if this food group is causing you unnecessary dietary distress unless you give it up — even for a short period of time. And while the idea of no cheese for one week might sound impossible, it's not as hard as you might imagine.

How to Do it

First and foremost, it's important to take a good look at your diet and recognize just how much dairy you're eating. If you're a vegetarian and the majority of your protein consumption comes from dairy products, then look to these sources of vegan protein to see what you should have on hand, and incorporate them into your diet as soon as you kick off the challenge. The same rule goes for calcium; be sure to add foods like leafy greens and other dairy-free foods high in calcium to your diet.

You probably know that you'll steer clear of yogurt, milk, butter, and, yes, cheese, but it's important to read the labels of all the prepared foods you enjoy regularly. If there's milk powder, buttermilk, cream, whey, curds, or milk solids included in any of the ingredients, then you're going to have to pass.

More Dairy-Free Resources

  • Start your day on the right note with these healthy, dairy-free breakfasts to make mornings easy.
  • Amp up with the protein power of a vegan smoothie to keep you satisfied. For the recipes on this list that don't include a protein powder, just toss in a dairy-free protein powder to support your body's needs.
  • I suggest doing your best to go without any cheese or cheese replacement product for at least a week, but here our favorite dairy-free "cheeses" if you just can't go without.

Be sure to enter our Get Fit 2014 Giveaway for a chance to win $1,000 worth of Champion Athleticwear and a three-night stay for you and a friend at the tranquil and inspirational Red Mountain Resort in Utah! Follow our 31 Days of Fitness workout program to rock your New Year with daily workouts.