I'm on a diet. Should I avoid dairy products?

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The verdict is in: weight gain, cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes... many people decide to cut out dairy products out of their meals, essentially giving these products a life sentence. Too much fat, too salty — it's the end of the road for cheese. Victim to generally held popular beliefs and even falsehoods, dairy products are often wrongly condemned. Looking at the latest scientific data, you'll see here that cheese and yogurts can actually work well with specific diets.

How do dairy products work with managing weight?

To reiterate an inescapable truth, it is important to remember that no food category is "perfect" or "bad." A balanced diet is always based on portion size and how often you eat, which needs to be tailored to each specific individual and their requirements. (See the recommendations from the French national program for nutrition and health). "Moving well" and doing at least 30 minutes of brisk walking (or equivalent) each day is also recommended to better burn off the energy you get from food.

Even if you are keeping an eye on your weight, you can absolutely still have dairy products. Contrary to popular belief, consuming a sensible number of dairy products could even have a positive effect in preventing weight gain, type 2 diabetes, or in reducing cardiovascular risk1.

The main recommendation for adults is to consume two dairy products per day.

This can go up to three portions of dairy products per day if you have smaller portions. 

Note, the daily recommended portion sizes are:

  • 150 ml of milk
  • 125 g of yogurt
  • 30 g of cheese.

Here are a few habits to develop for your health and well-being:

  • Alternate between milk, yogurts, fromage blanc, and cheese throughout the day to find a balanced compromise between calcium and fat content. In a balanced day, two dairy products could look like: a plain yogurt at breakfast and a piece of cheese at lunch, or grated cheese on your pasta at dinner and a sugar-free yogurt for a snack.
  • Opt for dairy products such as yogurts or fromage blanc with a fat content of less than 5%. Similarly, you could go for low-fat goat milk yogurts.
  • Even if you are watching your weight, you do not need to cut out cheese completely. It can absolutely be incorporated into a balanced diet and active lifestyle. Which fresh cheeses you choose is up to you. Their high water content naturally reduces their fat content... what else is left to say? You can also alternate with reduced-fat cheese, so you don't have to sacrifice taste or treats.
  • Getting older can translate into weight gain, especially in women who are going through the menopause. To find out more about nutritional requirements in older people, take a look at our dedicated article.

Excess weight and obesity should never be ignored and need to be managed by a health professional. Only they can approve the implementation of a medically supervised diet. In addition, all slimming diets, whether they carry a specific name or not, should be avoided, unless managed by health professionals. In addition to the deficiencies and health problems that these restrictive diets can cause, they frequently result in people regaining and often exceeding their initial weight. This is known as the yo-yo effect.

Should I cut out salt completely?

In spite of the genuine concerns with regard to consuming too much salt, a no-sodium diet is not recommended unless prescribed or implemented under medical supervision. Cutting out salt represents a significant risk of loss of appetite and leaves you vulnerable to dehydration.

Note, Even if you have high blood pressure*, your doctor will not routinely prescribe a no-sodium diet.

*Here, we are referring to high arterial blood pressure, when the pressure of the blood in the arteries is too high. On average, a blood pressure of over 140/90 is considered high in adults.

Can I keep eating cheese if I have high blood pressure?

The answer is yes! Even if you are careful with the amount of salt you consume, you do not need to cut out cheese. A 30 g portion is even recommended. And to meet your specific needs, Soignon offers a reduced-salt log.

Conclusion: don't abandon dairy products completely!

Dietary choices that are tailored to nutritional requirements (in terms of frequency and portion size), combined with regular physical activity every day, are the best ways to control your weight and stay in shape, without sacrificing dairy products.

If you are watching your weight or salt intake, there's no need to boycott dairy products; just choose suitable products and have them in small amounts.

With this approach, you can have two portions per day, opting for cheeses that are low in salt and fat but high in calcium, not forgetting to limit sugary and fatty milk-based desserts.