7 months without cheese: A PCOS update

on July 29, 2013 in PCOS with 21 comments by

If you are new to this conversation, me having PCOS and all, check out these older posts to catch up.

In summary, I have PCOS and I don’t love talking about it, but I’m really grateful for all that God is doing in my body and so I am talking about it.

Today, seven months in of really taking this thing seriously, I barely miss dairy anymore. I mean, I miss cheese burritos to be sure, but on a daily basis, it’s no biggie.Β I know that sounds crazy, especially since I was literally eating dairy in some form – milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream – at least three times a day. But at this point, hamburgers are fine without cheese, unsweetened vanilla almond milk is a more than adequate substitute for cow’s milk, and I pick Asian over Mexican as much as possible. Because Mexican food without cheese and sour cream makes me a sad gal.

BUT. My body is happier than I think it’s ever been.

I went to my doctor last month and she is THU-RILLED with how much my body is responding to simply cutting out one food group, taking PCOS seriously, and allowing my body to focus on healing itself instead of fighting off the foods that I was feeding it.

Now listen, this is NOT a weight loss story. But for the first time it feels like my body and my mind are on the same team and everybody is happier for it. So I’m just doing a picture comparison below because I want you to see what starts to happen when you give your body what it wants, not just junk. [For me, junk means processed junk foods, but also dairy.]

The left picture is from January [I started eating right for PCOS in February] and the one on the right is from last week. I tried to pick photos where I look totally normal and not all hot and not perfectly dressed and not perfectly angled. Just two normal faces- one that didn’t care about her health and one that does.


It’s not a massive difference. It’s a slow change, nothing dramatic, but I’m getting healthier and I can only imagine how much happier my innards are.

It has not been all fun and easy. In fact, in the last two weeks-ish, my afternoon fatigue and headaches have returned, even though the dairy hasn’t. I tried a gluten-free lifestyle in June and thinking it didn’t matter at all to how I felt, I started eating gluten again in July. And now I can only wonder if my body dislikes that too. I’d be a real joy to have at a dinner party if I’m not eating gluten OR dairy. Woof. Yeah right. πŸ™ So I don’t want to live without gluten, but I hear my body and something is making her not happy.

I’m going to drop the gluten intake low again for a few weeks and try to get my body moving more to see if that will help with how I feel. But now that my insides and my outsides are working together, I’m much quicker to notice when my body isn’t happy and for some reason, even while I’ve been on vacation for a few weeks, my body hasn’t been as happy.

Like I said, I don’t love talking about this and feel super weird about blogging all of this, but I want to say to you what people have always said to me but I just started to listen: BE KIND TO YOUR BODY. Give it what it needs. Protect it from what it doesn’t.

I’m on the very very front end of this journey, but I’m loving learning what it feels like and looks like to have my body and mind on the same team, working together instead of against each other.

. . . . .

Teach me! What do you do to help your body be as healthy as possible?


  1. ~VA~
    posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 6:39 AM  |  reply

    One of the things I know my body isn’t happy with is caffeine…but when I was growing up, decaffeinated pop was a huge treat, but the caffeinated kind was an even bigger treat, so giving up caffeine would be giving up one of the biggest treats I could give myself…to be honest I haven’t totally given it up–and I have found that caffeine in coffee doesn’t bother me as much as long as I use some kind of creamer, but I have gradually started going for cherry 7-up over cherry coke because I know how I am going to feel afterwards…I am thankful that I am a girl who loves her sleep more than she loves caffeine so I have never wanted to use it as a stay-awake aid…I also have no problem saying no to caffeinated novelty items like jelly beans or to energy drinks…I have tried each once and the taste was definitely no where near worth the negative results…I think your dairy is probably a LOT harder to give up…I don’t even drink dairy milk or like yogurt/cheese/sour cream/butter but don’t separate me from my coffee flavored ice cream…

    • posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 11:42 PM  |  reply

      Oh I’m the same way. I don’t drink caffeine either. I miss coffee, but that junk gives me migraines, so I stay away! But I’m with you- I sometimes sneak a soda here and there. πŸ™‚

  2. Merideth
    posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 8:40 AM  |  reply

    I would have such a hard time giving up dairy. Like you, I love cheese and souor cream on my mexican food. I always tell my mom it’s her fault I’m a sour cream addict and then she tells me it is my genes(I’m part Lithuanian and I’m told they use sour cream a lot). I’m actually struggling to improve my eating habbits. I reserve soda drinking for the weekends right now and mostly only have one in a day. The junk food is harder for me because I don’t know of a lot of healthy snacks to eat. Fruits and veggies don’t fill me up that much, and I have a fast metabolism so I need to eat a good bit of calories and I want to feel full after eating. Anyway, if you have any healthy snack suggestions, I am all ears!
    So awesome that you are doing so well with this Annie. So proud of you for your courage and willingness to talk about it. Praying for you as you try and cut down on the glutin.

    • posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 11:43 PM  |  reply

      I love that idea! Soda on the weekends! Love it.

  3. posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 9:47 AM  |  reply

    Wow! That’s so AWESOME! Most people just decide to cover up the symptoms with some kind of medication or ignore. Way to go for listening to your body. I’m gluten intolerant (actual Dr. diagnosed kind) and it’s getting easier to find gluten free options. And once our friends know, they ask, can you have this or is their a gluten free option. Walmart is really starting carry good alternatives and of course Trader Joe’s is great for that too. Hope it helps. Glad you’re doing so much better.

    • posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 11:44 PM  |  reply

      Yes! I love the gluten-free tags at Trader Joe’s! I’m probably not going 100% gluten-free just because I love soy sauce :), but I am taking it wayyyyyyy down again.

      Thanks for your kind words!

      • Laura
        posted on Jan 14, 2014 at 11:10 PM  |  reply

        There are some great wheat free soy sauces out there. Also, liquid amino acids are equal in taste to soy sauce and totally gluten free. Hope that helps. πŸ™‚

  4. posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 7:10 PM  |  reply

    I’m so glad you’re sharing this. I’m working on letting my body heal itself from years of massive sugar addiction. Turns out I’m pretty sensitive to most “fun” foods. People think I’m a weirdo, but I think everyone’s body just responds differently. Some lucky folks do just fine with a diet of Cap’n Crunch and cow’s milk! Good luck! I can’t wait to see more updates.

    • posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 11:47 PM  |  reply

      Dude. I’m the same way- so sensitive to everything fun. Whah whah. But it is totally worth it, huh? I feel SOOOO much better. Yay for us listening to our bodies and allowing them to heal!

  5. posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 11:00 PM  |  reply

    The older I get, the more I think learning to listen to your body is half the battle. Because once you get that, long-lasting change is a little easier. If you recognize how much better you feel NOT eating McDonald’s French fries, you will be less tempted by their salty, crunchy goodness, you know? It’s taken me a long time to really stop and listen to what my body already knows.

    Proud of you for doing the hard work, girl.

    • posted on Jul 29, 2013 at 11:48 PM  |  reply

      Amen. Truth truth truth. Thanks, friend.

  6. posted on Jul 30, 2013 at 6:28 AM  |  reply

    Hi there Annie,
    I just wanted to say what an inspiration you are! A few years ago I became ill and realised I had been keeping myself going with caffeine for a looong time! It’s really hard to rein it in and keep going without it. You have given me such a good reminder to keep it up. Congratulations on your progress. You look fabulous in your pics! πŸ™‚

  7. posted on Jul 31, 2013 at 11:39 AM  |  reply

    I work out 4-5x a week and eat smaller portions, choosing healthy foods. I still struggle with sugar and I love pizza and Mexican food but since joining a boot camp (in addition to going to the gym), I feel ALOT better, healthy and more motivated to eat healthy–I even used a juicer to make a healthy breakfast this morning. The recipe is called “Rise and Shine” and it’s from The Food Network. πŸ™‚

  8. Anne
    posted on Aug 10, 2013 at 2:10 PM  |  reply

    Except for hard cheese, I have been doing the GF/DF thing for almost a year now (thanks to Mr. Miller…) It took about six months of GF for me to notice a difference, but when I ate gluten again — I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. Oh, and it was an hour before I was supposed to speak to like, a billion college students. No biggie.

    So while I still love my cheese, I will NOT touch gluten. I lost a few pounds, I guess, but eating a crap-ton of tacos and tortilla chips is not helping the matter.

    Love you.

  9. posted on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:57 PM  |  reply


  10. Tiffany Rockwell
    posted on Jan 14, 2014 at 9:36 AM  |  reply

    I know this post is more than six months old, but my doctor suggested I go dairy-free last week and I remembered this post and came back to it! How did you really start the process of going dairy-free? It seems incredibly overwhelming and if I don’t figure out a feasible way to manage it, I know I probably will just ignore the recommendation from my doctor, haha. Why does queso have to be so relish?!

  11. Nil
    posted on Jul 13, 2014 at 7:57 PM  |  reply

    This post just made me so happy and hopeful. I am a 26 year old in the PCOS boat. Symptoms didn’t fully start showing until the past year or two. I begin to change my lifestyle by exercise (almost) daily and cutting out “bad food” and adding in “good food/fruit” ;). Well all that was great…it even begin to help my “lady cycle” become somewhat regular until recently…I’m in that roller coaster again fighting PCOS! Now my symptoms consist of something I have NEVER had in my life..acne & random stomach cramps! After doing ton of research and talking to a few people who have syndrome, I have been told to try and illuminate dairy..completely. Like you, I’m a cheese..yogurt…sour cream type of gal and it breaks my heart to let go of all that jazz but I’m giving myself a few weeks of having no type of dairy at all to see what changes I might see. Reading your post about going dairy free for so long gives me so much hope, thank you! πŸ™‚

  12. posted on Sep 26, 2014 at 8:59 AM  |  reply

    Hi Annie,

    To take care of my body I never drink soda or juice. I’ve tried cutting the dairy completely but it’s so hard because when I do decide to splurge on something sweet, I want it to be ice cream! I switched to almond milk , try to eat cheese minimally, and eat less carbs. I’m trying to start gluten-free. Hopefully that works with weight loss. I enjoyed reading your post.

  13. katie anderson
    posted on Sep 22, 2015 at 8:06 PM  |  reply

    Hi Annie,
    I am a long time sufferer of PCOS and am finally beginning to take very seriously the dairy in my diet by trying to slowly transition to non dairy foods. Cheese on pizza has been especially difficult to quit cold turkey. As much as i love bread, i love cheese even more. I am very much a fan of almond milk and am adding other almond based dairy into my diet, and even considering making my own nut-based cheeses. I think a little bit of research can go a long way.

  14. posted on Jun 01, 2016 at 4:33 AM  |  reply

    […] wrote an article about the cons of dairy with PCOS as well that had many interesting points. Annie F Downs went 7 months without dairy and had amazing results. All these articles kept pointing me in a […]

  15. Bec
    posted on Nov 29, 2017 at 12:33 AM  |  reply

    I totally agree that dairy can be determinantal to PCOS symptoms. My Naturopath has told me to stay clear of it and my symptoms are so much less than they were when I was a vegetarian eating so much dairy and cheese!

    My PCOS Blog: http://www.sproutedwellness.com.au

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