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Replace dairy products with dark green vegetables.
Most people who embark on a dairy-free diet do so for medical reasons, particularly if they are lactose intolerant. This condition is caused by low levels of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine, which causes bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting after eating dairy. If you currently eat a lot of dairy, particularly higher-calorie products such as cream and full-fat cheese, cutting it out may help you lose weight, as it results in a decrease of calories. Simply cutting out dairy isn't enough on its own though -- there are several other factors you should consider for a successful weight loss plan.1.
Work out how many calories you should eat every day. Dairy or no dairy, the number of calories you take in is key as you must burn more calories than you eat to lose weight. Multiply your body weight in pounds by 15 to find a rough estimate of how many calories you need each day. Subtract 500 from this number to determine your daily calorie intake. You should lose approximately 1 pound of weight each week if you consume this much every day.2.
Steer clear of consuming too many soy-based dairy replacements, advises nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden. Soy milk and cheese contain high levels of anti-nutrients and are often sweetened, thereby bumping up the calorie content. Instead, Bowden recommends switching to almond, hazelnut or hemp milk.3.
Increase your intake of dark green vegetables. Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium -- an important mineral for building strong bones and teeth. Broccoli, kale, mustard greens, okra and collards are all high in calcium and thus make perfectly acceptable dairy replacements, according to dietitian Reed Mangels of the Vegetarian Resource Group.4.
Eat more lean meats and oily fish. Taking dairy out of your diet could mean you are missing out on some protein. Replace milk, cottage cheese, yogurt and cheese with chicken or turkey breast, extra lean pork and beef, cod, tuna and salmon, or include vegetarian protein such as tofu.5.
Reduce your calorie intake by cutting your portion sizes if you're not losing weight. One to 2 pounds per week is a healthy, sustainable amount of weight to lose. If you're not hitting at least 1 pound per week, cut your intake by another 100 calories each day and try to exercise a little more.
- Watch out for hidden dairy in foods such as bread, baking mixes, cereals, artificial sweeteners, lunch meats and salad dressings, advises Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free.
- Consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or cutting out dairy products.