• By Julie Stefanski
  • In June
  • June 21, 2017

Why I Still Chose Dairy

By: Angie Dye, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Telling people you are a Dietitian is a conversation starter. I have had hundreds of discussions with strangers at places like dinner parties, stand-up paddleboard trips and in lines at amusement parks regarding nutrition over the years. When people find out I’m a Dietitian, they usually have one burning question or one nutrition topic they’d like to discuss, and I love this. I really, really do. What I don’t particularly love or always handle so well is when folks tell me with great pride the recent food group they’ve eliminated or fad diet they’ve started.  I had a recent experience with this when someone at the gym was boasting about giving up dairy.  He looked to me for validation saying, “dairy really isn’t that good for you, right?” I had to whole-heartedly disagree.

Dairy foods are a powerhouse of so many important nutrients. By choosing dairy foods, we can increase our chances of getting more adequate intakes of three of the four most under consumed nutrients of public health concern in the American diet (calcium, vitamin D and potassium) (1).  The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that healthy eating patterns are associated with reduced risk for several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity. The DGA recommends three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods for those 9 years and older, in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern (2). I know from my extensive experience working with patients over almost 20 years, that it is very difficult to replace these nutrients and get these benefits from the diet when dairy is not included.

Aside from providing so many important nutrients, I continue to choose dairy foods because I believe that a diet that includes all foods is the path that helps me to eat the most complete and varied diet possible. As I continue to practice mindful and Intuitive Eating, I love the way that a dairy food, such as a high protein, low sugar yogurt completely satisfies my afternoon hunger, and feels like the absolute perfect snack.  I love the way a little feta cheese takes a salad from slightly boring, to something that I really look forward to. I love the way that milk and cereal provide that perfect pre-workout mix of carbohydrate and protein in such a delicious and convenient package.

So, in celebration of National Dairy Month, consider all of the benefits that dairy foods provide, and how choosing 3 servings per day may enhance your health. Instead of eliminating or restricting foods, enjoy the abundance of choices that are available to you when all food groups are included. Like this cute t-shirt available from Registered Dietitian, Nicole Groman at Body Over Mind Nutrition, (www.bodyovermindnutrition.com) don’t unnecessarily eliminate or restrict…just EAT!

Angie Dye, MS, RDN, CSSD is a Private Practice Dietitian who specializes in Intuitive Eating, Sports Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Nutrition in Hershey, PA.  Follow her on  FacebookTwitter @CarpeDiemRDN and Instagram @AngieDye3

  1. Dairy Research Institute®, NHANES (2007-2008). Ages 2+ years. Data Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, [2007-2008]. [http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm].
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for 
Americans. 8th Edition, December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

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