Saturday, November 20, 2010

No Milk, Two Years Later

It has been nearly two years since I stopped buying milk to drink. I had been drinking a gallon of milk every week or two. At first, I cut back as the price of milk went up. Then, I phased milk out completely by drinking my last half gallon slowly. I was motivated by both health and financial considerations. Besides the trace amounts of yucky things found in commercial milk, each gallon contains 128 grams, more than a quarter of a pound, of fat, and cost me around $4, a high price to pay for what is essentially junk food. In a year, I imagined, I would save more than $100, and I could lose 7 pounds — just by giving up milk.

In did, in fact, lose 7 pounds, not in a year, but in a few weeks. And since then, I’ve lost 7 pounds per year. It is not just the milk, but the food I used to eat with milk: cookies, cake, donuts, breakfast cereal, and so on. I didn’t specifically give up any kind of food, but I probably cut back by about half on my starchy dessert foods. In dietary terms, that adjustment is probably just as important as the milk itself.

I tried the various kinds of milk made from beans and grains: soy milk, rice milk, and about five other kinds. They all struck me as being the same kind of heavily processed junk food that dairy milk is, and they are even more expensive. Coconut milk seemed an improvement over dairy milk in both price and nutrition, but I wanted to go for a bigger improvement than replacing one kind of milk with another. I replaced milk mostly with water, and sometimes with pineapple juice. It surprised me at the time that pineapple juice cost so much less than milk. It surprised me also that breakfast cereals went better, in a culinary sense, with pineapple juice than with milk. The combination of milk and cereal that had seemed like a fact of nature turned out to be just a marketing concept.

In two years I’ve saved about $200 from not drinking milk. I may have saved more than that by making less frequent trips to the supermarket. Without the milk habit, there isn’t any reason to keep going back to the supermarket week after week. I would guess I have made at least 20 fewer supermarket trips in the last two years because of not needing to buy milk. The savings in transportation costs alone is about $50, and I might have saved another $150 by buying fewer groceries.

These are small changes, but they add up. At the same time, if half of my weight loss during this period was the result of giving up milk, that alone is reason enough.