40 Days and 40 Nights…Dairy-Free

NutritionI am by no means a regular church-goer (sorry, Mom), but if there’s one piece of organized religion I can really get behind, it’s Lent. I love the idea of sacrifice and of challenging yourself.

I’ve been giving up something for Lent for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I gave up watching TV or playing on my computer. (My younger brothers, meanwhile, didn’t seem to have the same grasp of the concept, often giving up things like hand lotion and Kleenex…making the whole 40 days a lot worse for everyone.)

But as I’ve gotten older, Lent has become more of a short-term diet, with God on its side! For the last 10 or so years, I have given up sweets for Lent, including literally every sweet food (except for fruit) you could think of: muffins, cookies, candy, brownies, ice cream, dessert-flavored yogurt, gum, sugary cereals, etc. In the last four years or so, I’ve added in any fried foods.

You may have read in my About Me section that it was a Lenten sacrifice last year that actually kick-started my transition to a paleo lifestyle. Needless to say, while I am not perfect in my food choices, I eat far more healthfully this year than I did just last year. And so, Lent is presenting itself as more of a challenge. The more processed foods and junk I don’t eat, the more challenging it is to choose something else to give up!

In the end, I decided to go with the old standby (sweets, including paleo treats), but add in what I think will be one of the hardest Lenten sacrifices I’ve ever made: DAIRY.

Now for all of you hard-core paleo peeps out there, please try not to be alarmed that I eat cheese. We’ve been over this so many times (like here, and here, and here).

Still, I have been feeling like I’m overdoing it in the dairy department lately and have been wanting to try cutting it out completely. A year ago this time I never would have dreamed I could happily cut out grains, so I figure I should try going without dairy and see what happens.

Maybe nothing will change and I will go back to my normal cheese-loving life. But maybe I will feel better, maybe I will drop those last few pounds, maybe my fitness level will improve, maybe my headaches will go away. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

The way I see it, I might as well try.

From now until Wednesday, when Lent begins, I plan on devouring every cheesy food I can think up. Today, for example, I ate some gluten-free Annie’s mac n’ cheese. My tummy is not happy, but heart SO IS. My “eat so much cheese you don’t even want it for the next 40 days” plan seems to be working already!

Wish me luck- and prepare yourself for more than a month’s worth of dairy-free recipes!

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