Along my journey to healing and experimenting with different diets and ways of eating, there are two staples that I continue to avoid: dairy and gluten. When I eat them, these two components consistently cause negative reactions in my body.
I remember when I started on a diet for endometriosis and how much I struggled cutting out gluten and dairy. I craved these foods.
You may be in a similar position, whether you are trying to cut these out, or already cut them but still overcoming the cravings. So, I thought I would take some time today to write about the reasons why it’s so hard to cut dairy and gluten.
In a nutshell: they are literally addictive 🙂
Dairy and Casomorphins
Milk contains a protein called casein. When casein is broken down in your stomach then casomorphins are produced. Casomorphins act as a histamine reactor, which is why so many people are allergic to dairy products.
Casomorphins also have an opioid effect in your body, producing a feeling of euphoria. This is where the addiction part comes in.
In my studies at IIN, I recall listening to Dr. Neal Bernard explain mother nature’s reason for the opioid effect in milk. He said that it is meant to instigate the mother-infant bond. The drug-like qualities of cow’s milk encourages the baby calf to continue to nurse and get the nutrients it needs.
Cheese has a concentrated amount of casomorphines, which is why it’s so darn hard to cut out!
Addictive Gluten Exorphins
Gluten exorphins are a group of opioid peptides formed during digestion and break down of the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
These gluten exorphins contribute to wheat’s addictive and endocrine-disruptive properties.
Speaking of endocrine-disruptions, one study found that Gluten Exorphin B5 stimulates Prolactin secretion. Prolactin is secreted from your pituitary gland and plays an essential role in metabolism and regulation of your immune system.
There have been studies done that have shown a correlation between high prolactin levels, endometriosis and infertility. (Yet another reason why it’s a good idea to cut gluten).
[ctt template=”12″ link=”s55iW” via=”yes” ]Both casomorphins in dairy and exorphins in gluten are closely related to the well-known opioid, morphine, and exhibit many of its addictive properties.[/ctt]
So there you have it. You are not crazy for craving these foods. There is science behind it all, Lol.
Looking for Dairy Alternatives?
Let me preface by saying that nothing is going to be the same as dairy and gluten. I understand that it takes some getting used to the alternatives. But if you stick with it, it will become your “normal”.
There are a variety of non-dairy milks on the market these days. I prefer coconut milk since the flavor is mild. I like the brand So Delicious, who makes organic coconut milk and oh So Delicious organic coconut milk ice cream.
Other choices include: almond milk, hemp seed milk or rice milk. There’s also soy milk, but I try and steer clear from it since it’s not the best option for endo.
Nut milks are pretty easy to make, though I admit, I haven’t tried it. I need to invest in some cheese cloth first 🙂
I haven’t found anything that really takes the place of cheese. There are non-dairy alternatives like Daiya, which is primarily made from tapioca, but… it’s not even close. I’d prefer no cheese to that.
Additionally there are options to make a cheesy-like feel with cashews or nutritional yeast, which is OK, but again, this just doesn’t do it for me.
I’ve adjusted to eating things without cheese. Like I said, this has become my “normal”. Once I got past the initial cravings, I no longer miss it 🙂
Suggested Gluten-Free Alternatives
There are more and more gluten-free alternatives available on the market today, but I encourage you to be wary. Many “gluten-free” products are still loaded with sugar and damaging additives that can cause inflammation in your body.
I occasionally eat gluten-free bread, especially if I’m dining out. I prefer the Udi’s brand, flavor wise, but again, this still has additives in it that could cause a flare up, so moderation is key.
Same goes with gluten-free pasta. It doesn’t always agree with me, but sometimes I just want some spaghetti 🙂 I recently discovered Tinkyada’s organic brown rice noodles, which have good texture for gluten-free pasta.
Additional gluten-free, grain-free pasta ideas include spiraled zucchini or spaghetti squash.
Instead of eating a sandwich, why not top all the ingredients into a salad? Or use romaine lettuce or another similar large leafy green to wrap things up. Instead of a burrito, take the ingredients out and eat it in a bowl. The rules have changed 🙂
I have found a handful of good gluten-free pizza crusts, but pizza is one of those things that I’ve really had to say goodbye to, because once you take away the cheese… well it turns out being an overpriced cracker with tomato sauce, Lol.
On the Positive Side?
It is possible to eat a diet without gluten and dairy. When I first started out, I didn’t think so. These were the main two staples in my diet, and now I realize why. I was addicted to the opiate effect 🙂
It makes more sense why most people give me that look when I tell them that I don’t eat gluten or dairy. They say they could never give those up. They are addicted like I was.
I bring this all up so that you know that there is a physical reason behind the cravings you may be having and that it is completely normal to stray back into these food items.
These foods are everywhere. And truth be told, our food system is designed around addiction. It’s what keeps people coming back for more.
If you are struggling with cutting these two items, have strayed and feel guilty for doing so, or are paying for it with a big ‘ol endo belly, then I’m here to tell you… it’s OK. Just get back on the right track the next time you eat. No big deal.
Have you cut gluten and dairy? What helped you transition? Do you have any other alternatives to share? I’d love to hear from you…
I cut down all the exorphin recently after going gluten and dairy free 1 year ago. Now no gluten, dairy, soy, spinach and yeast. Also watching out for additives and sugars. It cleared up my 20 years of depression. So happy with no meds and knowing it wasn’t me that depression. It was all about the food. Also have a lot of energy to live my live again after twenty years of chronic fatigue. No supplement or meds, let nature take his cours for a while, feel what foods are right for you. Let food be your medicine. I am very happy that i found this exorphin free diet. It gave me back my life.
This is so great to hear Nikkie. Thank you so much for sharing your success. I felt similarly when I cut out gluten and dairy – who knew that was the cause behind years and years of daily headaches and fatigue. Food is a very powerful part of it all.