Five myths about dairy foods. (And why they're wrong.)

How am I going to get some calcium into this growing child’s brekkie?

Recently my son had his very first sleep-over party. Nine boys! In the morning, we prepared our usual breakfast and were surprised by one boy who pleaded lactose intolerant and didn’t eat any porridge.

This got me thinking…what dairy myths exist that are preventing people from enjoying dairy and how was I going to get some calcium into this growing child’s brekkie? 32 Brussels sprouts?

Being a mum of four and a dietitian, I encourage my kids to start their day with dairy foods. Milk, cheese and yogurt contain calcium and nine other essential nutrients for growth, bone strength and to support healthy, active kids.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Dairy Australia. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Alarmingly most Australian kids aren’t meeting the recommended serves of the dairy food group.

Depending on their age and gender, kids need between one-and-a-half and three serves of dairy foods every day. Dairy is important for our, and our kids’ health. It’s perfect with meals or makes a delicious healthy snack. In fact, my son just interrupted my writing to ask for a glass of milk as a snack.

How do we encourage our kids to eat more dairy? Research tells us that the more dairy foods mums eat, the more likely their children are to eat dairy foods as well. We need to lead by example. To help, here are 5 things mums tell me about eating dairy that just aren’t true:

1. Dairy foods are fattening

Many people believe that to lose weight, you need to lose dairy.  That’s just not true.

Studies have shown that dairy foods (both reduced fat and regular fat) actually help to accelerate weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and physical activity. In a recent study, those who included 3-4 serves of dairy foods lost more weight, fat and centimetres off their tummies than those on a similar regime without the dairy.  Why? Researchers are still working out why, but it is believed the unique combination of proteins helps maintain muscle mass and keeps metabolism firing.  So you can happily include your favourite milk, yogurt and cheese in any diet.

It takes 1 cup of almonds to get the same calcium as a glass of milk.

2. It’s easy to get calcium from other sources

Everyone knows dairy foods are packed with calcium (and 9 other essential nutrients). Importantly, the calcium in these foods is easily accessed by our bodies. Some people tell me there are nut and veggie alternatives to dairy.  I’ll let you choose:

Instead of one glass of milk, you could consume (or convince your kids to eat) any of the following:

  • 32 Brussels sprouts
  • 21 cups of raw chopped spinach
  • 11 cups of diced sweet potato
  • 6 cups of shredded green cabbage
  • 5 cups of cooked broccoli
  • 1 cup of dry roasted almonds

Vegies are great – but 32 Brussels sprouts?!

3. Lactose intolerance means no dairy

Often people diagnosed with lactose intolerance give up dairy foods unnecessarily! Most people can tolerate up to the equivalent of one glass of milk without symptoms, particularly if it is consumed with other food.

Many dairy foods are naturally low in lactose. Most hard cheeses such as parmesan, cheddar and swiss contain virtually zero lactose. Yogurt is also well tolerated because the healthy bacteria present digest much of the lactose.

Flavoured milk contains the same essential nutrients as plain milk.

4. Flavoured milk isn’t good for kids

Flavoured milk contains the same essential nutrients as plain milk. There are many brands on the market that have only small amounts of added sugar as most of the total sugar comes naturally from the lactose. So swap soft drink for flavoured milk.

5. Milk is highly processed

“The less processed, the better” is something I say at home and in cooking classes. Guess what … grab a carton of milk and check the label. Only one ingredient: milk!

Fresh milk is only pasteurised (to kill potentially harmful bacteria and extend the milk’s shelf life) and homogenised (mixing the milk to give a smooth and creamy texture).

So, it’s time to stop spilling the milk!

Now let’s salivate over some delicious dairy goodness that there is no need to feel guilty about having …

What’s your favourite dairy food?

Most Australians don’t consume enough dairy foods every day. Milk, cheese and yogurt are not linked with weight gain when eaten as part of a balanced diet. Dairy foods are a natural source of ten essential nutrients for good health and wellbeing. They also taste great and can turn any ordinary meal or snack into something Legendairy. Have you had yours today?

To learn more about the benefits of dairy foods click here.  Explore delicious recipes the whole family will love here.


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