In part 1 of this series (read here), I told you I was reducing my dairy intake because I was hoping it would help clear up my skin. In part 2 (read here), I talked about some of the things I ate during the two weeks, and how I kind of struggled for ideas, and I wasn’t happy that I was getting the right nutrition for me.
Now for the crucial bit – the results! Was there any benefit to me giving up my beloved cheese for two weeks?
The first few days, I didn’t notice any difference in my skin at all, other than normal hormonal changes I see all the time. On the second day, I went out for dinner to place with a really tiny menu, and I was really pleased with myself for choosing something dairy free and sticking to my plan even though there were other things I would much rather have eaten. And this is something I noticed throughout most of the two weeks; that I felt in control, and it was really motivating to think that this could actually help my skin after all this time.
A bit of anecdotal evidence I’ve read online suggests that I probably wouldn’t notice any change to my skin until the end of the two weeks, but I actually started to notice differences by around day 5. My skin looked less blotchy, red, and angry, and some blemishes I did have were starting to reduce in size. I normally wake up to a new spot every day but, by day 6, I hadn’t had a new one at all!
This experience has driven me to eat some strange things, purely because I was hungry and couldn’t think of a dairy-free meal or snack. Like the day I had 10 minutes before a hair appointment so I had potato waffles made in the toaster.
About a week in, I spent one night planning my meals for the following week because it was just so difficult without prior planning! Even though I don’t ever count calories, I knew I wasn’t eating enough and what I was eating wasn’t consistent. Sometimes, I’d have a brilliant nutrient-dense meal with lots of veggies, and others I’d be eating dry wholemeal toast just because I was hungry and couldn’t think of anything else.
I did find some things that I will continue to eat, because they were so yummy and I actually enjoyed eating some of the good things I found, without dairy! Like one lunchtime I made a frittata absolutely loaded with greens, veg, and sweet potatoes.
Another thing I experienced for the first time was craving. I’ve never had real cravings before. I thought I had, y’know when you think you could just destroy an entire tub of salted caramel ice cream? But, turns out, actual cravings are much worse. I was trying to write one night, but I knew that there were only 3 walls and a fridge in between me and a Dairy Milk Caramel, and I was so distracted by it. I had to get someone else to eat it, for closure.
By day 9 I still hadn’t had any new spots. My skin was kind of oily, and it still looked pretty blotchy because of all the scars I have, but something was definitely helping reduce the spots!
There wasn’t an awful lot of change between 9 and 14 days. My skin had certainly cleared up a lot, and it just looked overall less red and angry. The spots I did have anyway were shrinking so that they were easier to cover with makeup if I wanted to, and I was pretty happy with the results!
As it stands, I’ve reverted back to eating dairy. I don’t think it’s a sustainable way for me to eat right now, mainly because the vegan cheese I tried was horrendous. Like, for the first time in my life I couldn’t finish a toastie.
I found giving up dairy really restricting, and the change in my skin wasn’t miraculous enough for me to cut it out altogether forever and ever.
However, cheese is currently the only dairy I am eating regularly, and it’s nowhere near as much as I used to eat. I’ve switched to soy yoghurt because there is literally no difference in taste or texture. Unfortunately, there is a difference in price, so if anyone knows anywhere I can get cheaper dairy-free yoghurt, hook me up! I didn’t use a lot of milk anyway, but now I’m using soy or coconut milk. And I’ve learned that it is possible to eat pasta without cheese. Previously, I was adamant that this was not the case.
Although not overwhelming, I did notice some good changes in my skin. It didn’t clear up completely, but I never expected it to. It just seemed to calm things down, almost like there was some inflammation going on and the dairy was making it worse.
Unfortunately, I’m a sceptical little scientist and I can’t declare cause and effect without more evidence! I’m definitely going to re-group and try this again. I’ve learned that I really need to meal plan and prep ahead for it to be successful, and I would like to try it for a longer period of time, maybe a month, to see what kind of impact that has on my skin.
I’m also really interested to see if there are any other physical or emotional changes I notice over a longer period of time because, even in these two weeks, I noticed that I was a little less bloated, my sleep quality improved slightly, and my digestive system seemed a little happier. However, my mood was pretty unstable at times, and I’m usually really in-tune with what’s going on with me emotionally.
I definitely want to reduce my dairy intake in the long-term, because I do believe it has some impact on my skin. I just need to try again for longer to find out how much of an impact it could have, and I need to go into that much more prepared than I did this time! With that in mind, I’ve started a little Pinterest board where I’m pinning any yummy-looking dairy-free recipes I come across, which you can follow here. I’m hoping to do a little link fest of dairy-free recipes soon, so please do send me your favourites!
If you’re in a place where you’re really frustrated by your skin, and you’re looking for something new to try and bring it into balance, looking at your diet is definitely a million percent worth it. There could easily be something you’re eating which is causing inflammation or breakouts.
I’d love to know if you’ve found dairy affects your skin in any way. Comment below, or get in touch on the socials (or email me!) to share your story! And if you have given it up, any advice on how to make it successful would be appreciated!