Gluten Free Fitness

My Dairy Free Experiment

My Dairy Free Experiment


My Dairy Free Experiment with Surprising Results – Cows Gone Wild

A while back I had mentioned I was going to try going dairy free. I’ve never had any outward symptoms of dairy intolerance nor had I encountered any problems with dairy… or so I thought.

When I was researching and reading for my “Celiacs and the Paleo Diet” post, I began reading more about dairy and the manifestations that dairy intolerance can take.

So, just for grins, I decided to do a dairy free challenge.

For this experiment, I also cut out all grains and legumes.

Now, it’s not like I was a huge consumer of either of these.  In a day, I may have gluten free oatmeal, a serving of brown rice, and a serving or two of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.  Now, don’t get the idea I went “low carb”;  I simply replaced my grain carbohydrate with non grain carbohydrate (sweet potato, butternut squash, fruit) in addition to my usual copious amounts of  veggies and some fruit.  My carbohydrate consumption can be classified as moderate, and I keep it after my training sessions.

I did this for a about 3 weeks, and didn’t notice a huge difference in how I look, feel and perform. And I need to qualify this.  I am referring to “regular” dairy.  As in stuff you can buy in the supermarket.  You’ll see later why I make this qualification.

So, here’s me thinking, “ok, there’s no difference, I’ll add it back in”. I kept out grains, but added back in a couple of servings of cottage cheese and Greek yogurt.


Joint. Pain. OWW!

If you’ve been around here before, you may know that I have a history of achiness, which is quite normal for me, so I don’t really notice it.  After taking in the dairy, it was so bad I was back to having to lower myself down to the toilet with the help of my arms.  And I can do squats in the gym with way more weight than I am.  This is not huge weight by any means, but for me and my cranky joints, it’s pretty good.  Therefore, the toilet should be a non-issue.

Hip pain hit me too. This was within a day.  Actually, within a few hours when I started noticing it.  Within a day the pain was apparent. Needless to say, that was the end of that experiment and all the proof I needed.

So much for having “no problems” with dairy, eh?!?!?

Now for my qualifications.
  • I seem to have no joint pain when I use whey protein powder, which is  derived from dairy.
  • I seem to tolerate raw, unpasteurized, grass fed, fresh from the farm, cream in my coffee without any joint pain
  • Ghee or Kerrygold butter (which is grass fed but easily available in stores) also does not give me joint pain.
Theory of why this may be the case:
  • All of these items have very low to no lactose and casein, the two common allergen components of dairy products.  Mark’s Daily Apple has a nice blog post on dairy that discusses these a bit.
  • Casein has a very similar structure to gluten, which is why so many celiacs are intolerant of dairy.

I am off dairy. With the exception of the aforementioned items.

Doing this experiment was cool though, it was very concrete and gave me the feedback I needed.  Next I can add back in the oatmeal and see what happens.

If you are unsure if a food is affecting you, this is a great, inexpensive (as in no doctor appointments or lab tests were harmed in this experiment) way to do it.  You can even do something like a body detox to clear your system of any potential irritants and then systematically add stuff back in, assessing how you feel.

Give it a shot!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so chime up in the comments below!

For more reading about my philosophy on living gluten free: The Easiest Gluten Free Diet

Dairy free, or dairy-full?  What say you?

5 comments on “My Dairy Free Experiment

  1. Heidi

    Um, so I just got my book yesterday (Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution”), thanks for recommending it to me! I only got 2 hours of sleep last night because I could not put the book down (tip: don’t begin this book at 10pm). I am not finished with it yet, but despite how funny he is, I could not stop crying as I read it.

    While I have been on a journey of overhauling the way my family and I eat for some time now, my primary focus for the past year has been to eliminate pre-packaged gluten-free foods, eliminate synthetic food dyes, reduce our refined sugar intake and most recently, eliminate casein for my youngest, who was just discovered to have an intolerance to it.

    All the while, I have been increasing our consumption of gluten-free whole grains as well as…beans. A LOT of beans! We ate them at most meals (protein and fiber!) and I even added them to my baked goods: garbanzo beans in my chocolate chip cookies, pinto beans in my spice cake, etc. (“healthy” sweets, what not to love about that?). 😉

    So a regular person like me would naturally assume that my poor health (resulting from 25+ years of undiagnosed celiac) would be greatly improved with those changes, right?

    While it’s true that I have lost 70 pounds and reduced my bad cholesterol and triglyceride numbers from extremely high levels down to the normal range (WITHOUT taking the statin my doctor prescribed), I am STILL having serious health issues (2 years into a STRICT gluten-free diet). I KNEW there had to be more to the equation, but what?

    I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or anything other than a patient (and a mom who wants much better for her children), so how would I know? Then I realized, the true fact of the matter is that I don’t think being a doctor or a nutritionist would have made any difference because apparently, “they” (as a whole) know none of this either, or, if they do…they failed to inform me. I’ve only ever been prescribed a strict GF diet and medications.

    As you may know, I already have 3 autoimmune diseases and now I am battling iron overload (I see the hematologist today, so hopefully I will find out if it is true hemochromatosis or not).

    Anyhoo, I am deeply intrigued about the role of lectins in autoimmune disease. While I can’t change the fact that I already have 3 a.i. conditions, I sure as hell don’t want anymore (and I don’t want my boys to develop them).

    Thank you for making me more aware. 😀


  2. LOL! Yes it’s an acquired taste. Goat milk yoghurt isn’t too bad and I do the Raw Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese. I actually eat a LOT of beef. We buy a 1/4 grass fed cow at a time from a ranch North of us. My body seems to do well with. Funny how we’re all so different. I also agree in a good variety of quality food.

    • My Twitter friend @nikkicherry told me that raw goat milk is less, well, “goaty,” so I’m going to give that a shot. I have to look at my co-op form to see if goat cheese in on there. I wish we could get 1/4 cow-I really need a freezer!!
      I agree totally, my body also likes the beef 🙂

  3. I am gluten and dairy free though even though I am able to tolerate goats milk product I tend to crave them which leads me to believe there is an issue there also. I also suspect chicken and eggs to be a problem. But then what do I eat?

Leave a Reply