Dairy-free Update

I had quite a reaction the first two weeks I went off dairy. I have gone dairy-free before but that was when I still had some digestive symptoms and was gauging a reaction based on those. This time without any digestive changes, I noticed other effects.

The first thing that happened is I quickly lost weight. The first week I lost at least 5 lbs. I’m pretty sure it was due to lack of calories. I should have prepared snacks better, got some shredded coconut, bananas, avocado and nuts ready, but for some reason I just didn’t think to. The second week went better and I started gaining some weight back.

The second thing I noticed was my hands started cracking. I ended up with about 6 ‘cuts’ on my hands that I thought at first was from cutting myself with a knife while preparing food. But I quickly realized it was just my skin splitting. It was painful but only lasted about a week. A few people on Twitter said they had the same thing during periods of stress, so I’m assuming it was that.

The third thing I noticed was how my appetite seemed much more normal. At first it felt like I was hungry all the time, but now it seems like an appropriate hunger feeling. I feel hungry (but still energetic) before breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t know if I ever felt normal hunger before.

And finally, I noticed the first week my skin did get a lot better. The acne on the back of my shoulders disappeared and my face stopped getting new pimples. Then, all of a sudden it all came back. I woke up one morning a couple days ago with a fresh batch of acne. Sigh.

If I didn’t have such a crazy reaction when I went off dairy I probably would have added it back into my diet by now, but I want to keep it out a bit longer. I’m not sure if dairy was contributing to nutritional deficiencies (I have read it can block zinc absorption – important nutrient for acne) and I don’t want to take any chances.

I have gotten a lot of help from people commenting here about acne. So I plan on trying a few more things nutritionally before looking into anything else. I’m remembering to take my B-complex more often. It’s a low dose one that I can take a few times a day, so I seem to do ok with it. I’ve added to that a B5 (pantothenic acid) which is supposed to help with acne, hormones and fat metabolism. I also am taking a zinc supplement most days, cod liver oil and fish oil. My next naturopath appointment is this week and I’ll be sure to ask her about other things I can try.


I have been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since January 2008 to recover from Celiac disease. As part of the diet, I don't eat grains, sugar or potatoes and prepare all my meals from scratch.


  1. Thanks for the update!

    One thing to watch out for, though you’re probably careful about this: If you’re adding new things to your diet to replace dairy, they may be affecting you. My sister recently tried to go gluten-free and to replace breads she got a barley energy drink (oops). She felt horrible “gluten-free” until I told her that barley contains gluten. It could be your new problems are due to something new.

    I do much better off dairy 🙂 I think it’s the casein.

  2. Hi, I appreciate your info and candor. I recently discovered something too….I had stopped eating “regular” grocery store chicken, beef and pork. We have only eaten free range organic..now for about 5 months and oh my goodness what a difference! So much better. Well, we had company coming unexpectedly, I had not taken anything out of the freezer, and well, I went and bought “regular grocery store chicken” as my butcher store was closed. I took a chance. I did not like the taste, the guests loved it. That night, I woke up about 2:00 am covered in hives! It was hideous! Never again, never again. If I can not eat organic free range, I will do vegetarian. Won’t go through that again. As an Esthetician, I understand your frustration with Acne. As you have tried so many different things, what can I say? There is the possibility you may outgrow it? Sometimes, in my experience when a woman has had children, her skin changes too. Hormones and diet play a huge role as I am sure you know. It sure sounds like you are eating a pure diet! ps. I recently found a great skin care product, have had huge success with a number of clients – it is called “Paula’s Choice”, can be ordered on line. Now I am a believer it starts from the inside out….Paula’s Choice seems to enhance everything, – no fragrance, natural ingredients and not overly priced. Might be worth a try? All the best, and thanks again, Ina

  3. Go easy on the fruit – the sugar in it is not good and will cause all sorts of problems. I know I can only handle a very small amount of fruit. Lots of people make snacks from coconut oil or coconut butter/spread. There’s a recipe on Nourishing Gourmet for her version. I make something similar but using 50:50 unsalted butter and coconut oil. Obviously if you’re dairy free you could cut out the butter or mix in a bit of ghee also. I find it a great way to get extra calories and fat into my diet.

  4. @Adam Thompson Yeah I have been careful not to introduce new foods. One thing I did eat that I don’t normally is peanut butter for two days. I overate it and it made my stomach hurt a bit, but the hands cracking started two days before that, and the acne returned a week after. Either way, I’m back to eating only what I was eating the past few months so we’ll see if keeping up dairy-free helps.

    @Ina Gawne I probably will look into topical products again, but want to do diet/nutrition changes for now. Don’t want to get confused about what is helping if I’m doing topical treatments. I sure do hope I outgrow it!

    @Debbie I used to not do well with lots of fruit, but lately I’ve been feeling fine. No blood sugar ups/downs & no candida-like symptoms. I do pay attention not to go overboard on it though. I’ll check out more coconut based snacks. Lots of yummy stuff to eat without dairy, although I do miss it 🙂

  5. Wow, those are some reactions to eliminating dairy! My hands can crack but generally its in response to cold weather. I didn’t know they’d do that in response to stress/eliminating a particular food.

    As for acne, I’ve had times where it has cleared up and I could associate the clearing with a change in diet, but the relief always seemed to be temporary. For about 4-5 months, high doses of zinc (75-90mg/day) worked, but then the acne returned. Increasing how often I exfoliated also worked for a few weeks, but again the acne returned. Most recently I cut out fruit and my skin seemed to clear up – however I also significantly increased the amount of omega-3 I was taking (from 1-2 tsp/day to 2T/day!) without realizing it. So I’m not really sure if it’s the fruit or the omega-3s, but thought I’d mention it in case you need any additional ideas. Good luck staying dairy free! Sometimes you crave something because you are continually eating it, and then you remove it and after some time you hardly miss it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *