If you are someone who spent their formative years in the United States of America during the 1990s, you are likely walking around with a subconscious shaped — at least in part — by the USDA.
The United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for providing “leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues” or, more specifically, inundating Americans with PSA after PSA declaring the consumption of milk and its many forms as the only way to prevent bones from cracking and muscles from degenerating and life from collapsing around us all. When this crew isn’t painting your favorite celebrity lips in white goo, you can catch them pulling plenty of cool and completely fair tricks on the back end, as well, with the intention of ensuring you can never venture too far from the all-powerful pull of pasteurized deliciousness. This includes mandates requiring milk-based products in school lunches, incentivizing your favorite food retailers to create milk-filled menu items, and signing off on the use of powerful, synthetic hormones, like rBGH, that help make its most valuable producers even more profitable (and you even more
Milk, cookies, and cringe.
Our generation has, in many ways, spent a lifetime brainwashed into believing milk is as important to the fabric of our dear nation as baseball, Beyoncé, and inflated defense spending, when in reality, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest its just making us sick.
That said, I am all too familiar with the intrinsic, magnet-like pull a wheel of Brie can exert on some unsuspecting subject in Whole Foods at 6 pm on a Sunday. I am also well acquainted how fully and unequivocally right Jumbo Slice feels in the wee hours of the same day. The potential effects of a lifetime consuming dairy are scary, and nearly impossible to avoid.
While the realization that the dairy industry may be slowly poisoning the population at large was not enough spur personal action, this article linking my jawline breakouts to my penchant for late-night fro-yo was. #MeGeneration, am I right? Needless to say, it wasn’t long after I was confronted with the likely culprit behind my sporadic-yet-palpable breakouts that I finally decided to cut the cream, once and for all. Thanks to the very limited social skills my 25 years as an only child have afforded me, my face is one of few redeeming qualities I can safely rely on, and I couldn’t let that vicious temptress known as lactose compromise its appeal.
My “Dairy Detox” program was long, challenging, and I still slip-up sometimes (damn you, Halo Top!). The restaurant industry’s co-dependency issues with cheese certainly didn’t help matters, and an innocent scan of a new restaurant’s appetizer selection quickly became a painful reminder of the ex who wasn’t horrible, just not right for m(y skin.) I followed an elimination plan that I’ll share with you soon, during which I targeted the “high-risk” items that I noticed tended to wreak the most havoc first.
As my taste buds resisted these new changes, my complexion embraced them with open arms and clear pores. I was less broken out, less oily, and less concerned that my skin was reverting to its 2007 state as repentance for some weird curse I unwittingly encountered at cheer camp junior year. I also learned that dairy is linked to other much-fun skin conditions like eczema and premature aging and if that’s not enough, I lost weight, too.
The idea that consuming the milk of a creature that has likely been pumped with synthetic chemicals then forced to produce a substance intended to support the growth and function of baby cows may cause some trouble for our very human bodies is — believable? Supported? Dare I say, sensical? For the first time, I found myself embracing a food-related claim without a bikini-clad supermodel confirming its validity with her smize. It felt good.
I don’t have any before or after pictures for you. I still pass out with my makeup on at least once a week and follow the Jesus Christ approach to wine:water consumption — my skin isn’t one to cut me any slack. The major difference was and continues to be a consistently lighter glow with very few breakouts in between.
My best advice if you’re planning a Dairy Detox of your own? Embrace the threshold theory. For such an unhealthy country, we sure do cling to the idea that adjustments to food consumption must be followed stringently and religiously. From Atkins to veganism to Paleo to Whole 30, we take comfort in rules, boundaries, and restrictions. The reality is, there’s a world out there actively shoving and sneaking dairy products into bodies and brains. So, find your “threshold” — or, the amount of dairy you can eat before feeling its effects — and don’t set out to eliminate every morsel of lactose-ridden sustenance from your diet right off the bat. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need good two months to mourn the loss of pizza alone, and the last place you want to find yourself is in your car, three McFlurries deep, cursing your perceived lack of self-control in the back lot of Home Goods.
It’s an Almond Milk-sponsored marathon and not a sprint, after all. Learn to love the journey.
Craving more Dairy Detox intel? Follow along over the next few weeks as I share my favorite ways to eat dairy free — in the kitch and on the road! See you then!!