Ever since I was a kid, I can remember being the pickiest eater. My dad would joke about putting one green pea on my plate and say "if you're still hungry let me know!" But the one thing I lived for as a kid was like any other kid–pizza, Kraft Dinner, cheeseburgers, neapolitan ice cream, etc. I loved all the bad foods, and that's basically all I ever wanted to eat (the pizza part hasn't changed since tbh). I was also always forced to drink milk at dinner, which I didn't mind. Back then, I loved milk and I willingly drank it.

It really didn't start until I was about 9, but every single night I would wake my mom up with the worst stomach ache. My poor mother, always rubbing my back late into the night and having to buy Pepto-Bismol weekly because of the amount I went through alone. How I woke up with enough energy to go to school everyday... I'm not sure. I wish I had as much energy now as I did back then. But we never went to the doctor about it because back no one was a health freak and everyone just got over it somehow. My mom self-diagnosed me with nerves, which never made sense to me. I wasn't bullied at school and had a good life, I had nothing to be nervous about but back then your mom was always right.

My family and I moved and the closest pizza place to us was Milano's and it became our signature pizza place to order from. But I would get a stomach ache every single time I ate it and I had no idea why. I sucked it up and ate it anyways, just thinking I was nervous about life for no reason. The symptoms never really went away, but there is a huge chunk of time that I just dealt with the crazy bad stomach aches and never did anything about them. I thought I was prone to getting stomach aches and that was that.

That was until senior year, when I went to go get Baskin Robbins with my friends on a Friday night. I was so excited, I hadn't had ice cream in a while and I mean, who doesn't like ice cream (I don't now, but you get it). We sat and ate our ice cream and then I knew something wasn't right. I made my friend drive me home, doubled over in pain, and when I got home I basically crawled to the bathroom. This happened again a few months later but with Ben & Jerry's ice cream. This is when being lactose intolerant was starting to become 'trendy', and everyone declared that they had it because they experienced a little bit of a stomach ache one time from eating a cheeseburger from McDonald's. I didn't need to get checked out by a doctor to prove I was extremely lactose intolerant, the stomach aches and almost passing out from pain showed enough signs.

I tested myself to see what would happen if I stayed away from dairy for good–and guess what happened? I rarely experienced stomach aches unless I realized later that there was dairy in something I had eaten. For a good couple of years I would give it a try again and feel the exact same way. I remember I ate frozen pizza from Costco once, and was seeing stars my stomach hurt so bad. That was when I knew this wasn't something that casually happened to me. I had to cut dairy out for good, and I've stuck by that (except, of course, the only two places I can get pizza from because their cheese is so heavily processed it's basically not cheese anymore. I won't name any names).

Now, I've never been a cheese addict or someone that wanted to go to Italy to try all the different cheeses'. Cheese kind of freaks me out–I hate the smell and I haven't touched milk since I was probably 11. So this transition wasn't that hard for me unless it had to do with mac & cheese or you guessed it, pizza. It's very hard to cut dairy out, I would imagine even harder when you're someone who loves wine and cheese nights or whatever people do to make dairy sound cool. For a while I carried around lactose pills in my purse so if the occasion ever came up, I was ready. But I never wanted to use them because I generally didn't think dairy belonged in my body.

Some of you reading this are probably cringing at the fact that someone would willingly give up dairy and be fine with it. But there are worse things in life than giving up something that makes you so incredibly sick, especially when you feel 100 times better not eating it. Let me tell you a short version of why I've stuck the belief that dairy is the reason why so many people feel gross, bloated, have bad skin, and have trouble sleeping at night. Dairy is incredibly hard for your stomach to digest, even if you aren't lactose intolerant. Your immune system, which is what keeps us healthy, is in your gut. So unless the dairy you're eating has tons of probiotics for you, it's not good for you and I'm sure not that many people are buying Kefir or probiotic yogurt weekly. Dairy is the cause of so many problems, especially acne. I truly believe that the reason I don't have to moisturize my face, or the fact that I only get pimples during that time of the month (sorry boys), is because I don't consume dairy and I make sure of that.

I choose every single day to not eat dairy, or eat an alternative to dairy (almond milk, cashew cheese, limited soy products, vegan butter, etc.) and I only ever get stomach aches when I remember that I ate something accidentally with dairy in it. I make a conscious effort to ask for no cheese on my sandwich at a restaurant, and I also make sure I find alternatives for when I do want a dairy product. I think even people who don't suffer from any of these problems can benefit from taking dairy out of their diets. You can get more calcium in your diet from green vegetables than you can dairy products, because your body absorbs it at a way faster and more efficient rate.

The moral of this story is, if you feel miserable after eating dairy, you're very self-conscious about your acne, or you feel bloated after every meal that contains dairy, try it out! Just for a week. No dairy. I promise you, if this is the reason for your problems, you'll thank me. Dairy is the reason for so many problems, and now it's not a problem for me.


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