Well now you do, if you choose! Stage 5 welcomes dairy and dairy alternatives back into your diet. When thinking of dairy, images of strong bones, milk mustaches and healthy kids may come to mind and there’s good reason to! Dairy foods provide important nutrients to your body that are especially important for bone health. Some of the most recognized being calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
When introducing dairy back into your diet, it’s important to consider how this food group will fit into your meal plan. It is a common misconception that dairy is a protein serving, but it is actually considered a carbohydrate. That means you can substitute any previously introduced carbohydrate (such as fruit) in its place. You will want to be mindful of how many dairy servings you have, so be sure to limit the foods in this category to less than two per day. Typically one serving = 1 cup.
As with any new food addition, it’s important to listen to your body. Start with a small serving and pay attention to how it makes you feel and then compare that feeling with cheese (introduced in stage 3) or any other foods previously introduced. One of the most common food intolerances is lactose intolerance. This is an inability to digest the milk sugar lactose. This is different from a dairy allergy which is tied to inflammation in the gut. Both can result in unwanted symptoms and ultimately impact your weight loss. Many people are sensitive to dairy without even realizing it, so if you notice any symptoms like cramping, bloating or slowed weight loss, speak with your Dietitian.
If you are liking life without dairy then by no means should you feel obligated to incorporate it. We want this to be YOUR lifestyle after all! Asking your registered dietitian questions about the addition or elimination of dairy from your diet. Your dietitian can work with you on getting those beneficial nutrients from alternative dietary sources you enjoy. If you do chose to implement dairy, you’ll also want to pay attention to the nutrition label by selecting fat free or low fat products. Choosing foods from this group that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol can have health implications. A common misconception is that low fat dairy will result in fewer healthy nutrients. This is simply not true! As you decrease the saturated fat in dairy products, you actually cut calories and cholesterol, while nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals remain high! The popular saying ‘milk: it does the body good,’ holds some truth after all.
Of course, there’s more to dairy then what makes the mustache. Milk may steal the dairy spotlight but there are many other foods out there that are worth trying. Take yogurts for example. This nutritious addition can make for a wonderful and convenient snack. One of my favorites is Siggis yogurt in blueberry. These Icelandic yogurts are thick, creamy and beautifully balanced with protein and carbohydrates. Be careful though, not all flavored yogurts are created equal. It’s not uncommon to find yogurts with the nutritional profile equivalent to a candy bar so make sure you always read your nutrition labels. Refer to our stage 5 video and meal plan for more information on our dairy guidelines and food suggestions.