Steady, Level, Focused, and NO STOMACH PAIN.
These were the reasons I decided to embark on my most recent lifestyle switch.
I am not a medical professional, and this is not medical advice. This is simply what works/has worked for me with my own set of dietary issues.
NOT JUST LACTOSE FREE, BUT DAIRY FREE
Dairy and I have had a very complicated relationship. Growing up in a typical American household, dairy was consumed regularly. I used drink it all the time. Even though I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance, it did not stop my dairy consumption. Lactose-free milk became a staple in my childhood home, lactase pills a frequent accessory in my pocket. However, I would have weird bumps on my hands, and chronic gastric distress. It wasn't until later in life that it was discovered that I indeed had a full blown dairy allergy.
Dairy is omnipresent in the American diet. From cheese, to milk, to ice cream (wink. wink.), it's pretty difficult to navigate social situations without having to actively decide to avoid dairy. Want to go to a ball game? Good luck. Mexican restaurant? No cheese please. Amusement park? Uh, no.
However, it's really not all that bad, especially when you consider how inflammatory dairy consumption can be on your body, even more so if you don't do well with lactose. It's been a known fact that excess inflammation is stressful on your body at a cellular level. I do everything I can to stave off inflammation, even if it means sticking to water and packaged salad at a ball game...ugh...
Sugar Free, Maybe Even Keto?
Eating without sugar DOES NOT = KETO. I enjoy legumes on occasion, which, while not containing much sugar at all, do contain carbohydrates. I find that my body has no problem with legumes, as there is seemingly no harmful effect on my blood sugar, energy levels, digestion, etc. One of my favorite ways to legume-it-up is in pasta form. Banza is my go-to pasta brand, made using the power of chickpeas. Mrs. Wink also makes a large batch of lentils every once in a while that add bulk to our lunches/dinners.
That being said, I do prefer to eat fully ketogenic for at least 3-4 days per week. I find that if I function at around a 90% while eating sugarless/with legumes, that when I switch to keto, I bump up to 100%. My focus is more intense and my energy levels are higher; I even require less caffeine in the morning (seriously, one cup makes me jittery when I'm on a Keto diet).
Should Everyone Eliminate Dairy/Sugar?
NO. Not all dairy is bad for you. Things like functional dairy products (i.e. organic probiotic yogurt) are packed with good-for-your-gut bacteria. However, if you and I share common ancestors, making you also dairy inept, then yes, you should cut it out. I view it as a food group that serves no purpose other than taste/convenience - I don't feel good after eating it, it's not sustainable for the environment, and it causes internal inflammation for me.
Sugar on the other hand? Yes. Cut out as much as you can.
Sugar literally has no nutritional value for you. Your body burns through it way to quickly for you to use it as a sustainable source. So instead, most of it gets stored as fat.
What about Fruit Sugar?
Fruit sugar, or fructose, is somewhat better than simple sugar/refined sugar, but not by much. Yes, it is natural. Yes, it is slightly harder for your body to breakdown than glucose. AND yes, it gets stored the exact same way as regular sugar, as fat.
Fruits are sweet so that humans (and other animals) eat them for their nutrients (and to spit out seeds to grow into more fruit trees, but that's not important to my rant here). The nutrients and fiber of the fruit are what yield the benefit, not the sweetness.
So yes, you should try to limit fruit intake. Shoot for fruits with high-to-fructose ratio (like all berries) since it limits the harmful effects of the sugar spike. Personally, I can't even digest bananas anymore, so there's that.