The downfall of a change in diet is often hunger. If your stomach is rumbling and there aren’t any good options in plain view, the temptation to grab something old and familiar can easily win out. Keep an assortment of fresh fruit, trail mix (with nuts and seeds), homemade granola bars, dairy-free chocolate coconut milk beverage (yum!), cut vegetables with dip, healthy cookie bars, and nutritious vegan chips or crackers.
Passing on a glass of dairy milk is easy. Milk is a confusing and sneaky food. It lingers on labels under names like caseinate and whey. Yet ingredients like caramel color and cocoa butter are typically dairy-free! And there are a number of plant sourced milk products such as almond, soy and coconut to name a few other non-dairy varieties.
Soy and coconut yogurt are types of yogurt stocked in almost all major grocery stores if you want to ditch the dairy that you usually have for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Try to find the plain varieties to limit added sugars, also, soy yogurt will have much more protein than the coconut version. Once you find one you like, spruce up these yogurt alternatives with fresh fruit and a handful of nuts.
We know; once again, cheese would make something even better. But if you’re not into nut cheese or just want to go cold turkey on the stuff for at least one meal, your lunchtime sandwich is another great place to ditch the dairy. Make your sandwich just as satisfying by toasting your bread with Earth Balance dairy-free spread, and top it off with some ripe avocado instead of the usual cheese slice.
Update Your Cereal
Your morning cereal habit is one of the easiest meals of the day to lower your dairy intake. Swap out dairy milk for unsweetened, non-dairy alternative ‘milks’ such as those made of coconut, almond, chia, oat, hemp, cashew, or quinoa. Look for the labels with the least amount of additives, which are cleaner ingredients in nature.
And if you’re really ambitious, you can make your own. You just need a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or ‘nut milk bag.’ Soak one cup nuts or oats for up to 2-8 hours (note oats may incur less soaking time) and blend in high-speed blender with three cups water. Add flavor with a little vanilla or cinnamon if you’d like.
Don’t Forget the Calcium
Dairy is an excellent source of high-quality protein, calcium, and vitamin D. By choosing to reduce daily dairy consumption, it’s important that an individual pays closer attention to his or her calcium intake. Calcium plays several crucial roles in the body—namely in bone formation and muscle contraction. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium and is often the ‘go-to’ recommendation for boosting daily intake. Fortunately, there are several other calcium-rich food options that can be incorporated in place of milk, yogurt, or cheese. So what can you grab instead of dairy for that all-important calcium? Sardines are your top choice with 33 percent of your daily value!
A nutritious diet without dairy is more than feasible. In fact, enormous healthy populations around the world are dairy-free. But since our society tends to use dairy as a primary nutrient source, make sure your dairy-free diet and lifestyle is well-rounded with Vitamin D, B12, calcium, magnesium, and protein.