Last year, during my initial phase of going gluten free I reflected not only on my wheat consumption but also on my diet in general. I figured that I was consuming a lot more dairy here in Istanbul than I used to do back in Berlin. Since moving here I had yoghurt for breakfast every single morning, drank many, many café lattes and ate lots of salads topped with loads of feta cheese. Everybody knows, too much of anything is never good, so I felt the urge to put a halt on this. In the back of my head I developed this thought that just maybe I could hit two birds with one stone: Going gluten and dairy free at the same time. I mean, why not? I was about to change my diet completely anyway, right?
Some of you might break out in hysterical laughter right now and I can’t even blame you.
Little did I now, how time consuming and sometimes frustrating it would be to go gluten free. This process once again put all my previously acquired eating habits into question (see Unlearning snacking). Cutting out dairy as well was just as naive as believing in sticking to one’s New Year’s resolution.
Searching for new gluten free recipes and even just searching for the needed ingredients in Istanbul was pretty overwhelming. Juggling with bowls of overnight soaked nuts, cheese cloths and tons of nut pulp for some drips of homemade nut milk at the same time just sucked up the last bit of energy I had. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that I dropped the experiment for good after a mere week. I realized that there was no point stressing myself more than the whole gluten-free-change itself already was. Which led me back to focusing on one thing at a time. After all, there’s a reason the saying exists in the first place. From that point on, going ‘only’ gluten free felt like almost the easiest thing on earth (except for those awful days, when suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
The great thing is, even though I felt defeated in the beginning, everything falls into place eventually. A few months into my gluten-free diet I started to reduce my dairy intake without any intention to do so at all. I kind of lost my appetite for all things “cow” along the way. I don’t know what happened but I’m not that fond of the taste of cow’s milk and cow’s cheese anymore. Like I said, I used to drink my coffee drowned in milk, but now even a cappuccino leaves a bad aftertaste for hours and makes my mind foggy. From now on, coffee has to be pitch black instead. Yoghurt (sometimes from cow’, but more often from buffalo’s or goat’s milk) is still on my “once in a while”-list, just like kefir or a slice of obligatory feta at our frequent Raki Sofrası’s (a dinner with many friends stretched over a few hours). Also, I would never say no to a platter full of French cheese (honestly, who would?). Then again, that’s a rare find in Istanbul anyway. But overall I eat way less dairy than I used to. I don’t know if this is connected to going gluten free in some way, I haven’t found anything related online yet, or if my body is just able to better tell what is right for me since I cancelled the wheat stuff out of my diet.
Whatever the reasons for my lost appetite for dairy are, there are a lot of advocates out there who strongly support a dairy free or dairy reduced diet such as Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda. Dairy is also considered to be acidic compared to alkaline foods. Practitioners of this idea say a normal diet should consist of 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods.
As I’m not a nutritionist, I won’t make any recommendations on how you should compile your own diet. The only thing I can say is that a dairy reduced diet works well for me and that you should dive into the following articles if you would like to read more on the topic:
- Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at All Costs or Why Following the USDA Food Pyramid Guidelines is Bad for Your Health
- Why I’m a big advocate of a dairy-free diet