Today, I ate Greek yogurt for breakfast and sipped a Chai (full-fat!) milk latte. I firmly believe that everything tastes better with Parmesan, and I indulge in ricotta bliss balls. However, this wasn’t always the case. Despite the fact that I grew up in the “Got Milk?” era when celebrities wore milk mustaches to remind us how important it was to drink up, until recently, I avoided dairy at all cost. No, I haven’t been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, but chose to cut down on dairy to keep weight off and lose the supposed ‘dairy’ bloat.
But, around twelve months ago, I started to notice the first signs of aging (yep, every girl’s worst nightmare), so I took a hard look at my diet to see if anything was missing. I would like to start a family one day, grow old, and stay strong and healthy, but I knew this wasn’t going to happen unless I made some changes. Not to mention, I was sick of being “that” person at dinner parties who refused to eat the canapés, and took way too long ordering (can you make that gluten, dairy, and sugar-free?!) Seriously, I’ve gained a worry line from worrying over the years. Enough was enough; I just wanted to live a balanced and wholesome life!
Then, Dairy Australia approached me to become their ambassador. At first, it didn’t make sense to me, as I didn’t eat dairy. But then, the light bulb lit up. I could use this opportunity to see what would happen to my health if I slowly introduced dairy back into my life. I knew that dairy foods were number one for bones and teeth, but I wasn’t aware that milk, yogurt, and cheese could also be good for your heart, blood pressure, and weight.
So, for the past year, I have been slowly re-introducing dairy back into my diet. While I would have loved to eat my entire body weight in smoked cheddar in one sitting, I knew it would take baby steps. After all, I wanted my diet to be balanced and jam-packed with nutrients because as it was, it was lacking in calcium and protein (according to my nutritionist).
I learned that it was the lactose in milk that made my belly swell, so I now drink lactose-free milk and eat hard cheeses, as they contain little to no lactose. I’ve become a Parmesan addict (can you blame me?!) and eating it makes me feel GOOD! And yes, I’ve masted the art of making tasty (and nutritious) ricotta protein balls to nibble on after a sweat session. They provide a healthy dose of dairy, which research shows to be the ultimate post-workout food for increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat.
Apart from missing the nutty taste of soy, the results have been astounding. I haven’t put on any weight – which was one of my biggest concerns, I feel fuller for longer (goodbye mindless snacking!) and if anything, my yoga practice has improved.
I’ve also started to enjoy eating my food and my skin has never looked clearer. Even my husband has noticed a change in my attitude and appearance. I don’t think dairy is the sole factor in all these improvements, but I believe that I now have a good balance of food groups and the vast array of nutrients in my daily diet, which has improved my overall well-being.
So, after a year of taking a new approach to my diet, I wanted to thank Dairy Australia for not only a very insightful and informative journey but for assisting me in the transition and helping me to create a balanced life.
¼ cup of Oat Bran
2/3 cup of Hazelnut meal
250g wedge reduced-fat firm ricotta
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup chopped dried cherries or cranberries
¼ cup chopped dried pears
- Mix oat bran, hazelnut meal, ricotta, honey, dried fruit, skim milk powder and cinnamon in a large bowl until well combined.
- Using clean hands, roll heaped teaspoons of ricotta mixture into balls and coat in the chia seeds.