When people decide to reduce their fat intake – for whatever reason – they often eliminate dairy from their diet. This can be a huge mistake. Although eating excessive amounts is a bad idea, consuming less than the minimum recommendations can have a serious impact on our health.

As we age, our bones begin to lose their density and it becomes even more important to look after them. Whilst reducing your cholesterol levels or losing weight can be beneficial to your health, it is so important to achieve this in a safe way – and certainly not at the detriment of your bones.

It’s also easy to overlook how much dairy we are actually consuming in our diet. After breaking my back by slipping on the floor in my house, tests showed that I was suffering from Osteomalacia (brittle bones). Osteomalacia is a precursor to Osteoporosis, a very painful bone condition. As my own mother suffered so badly with this and as I myself was just post-menopausal, I knew it was vital to look very carefully at my own diet. I was honestly surprised at just how little dairy I was consuming on a day-to-day basis. I had milk in my 1 or 2 coffees per day and that was it! I’ve never been a huge fan of cheese – I don’t mind it, but it wasn’t something that I ate very often.

I became very disciplined and began to make sure that I had the recommended amount EVERY day. When my next Dexa scan was due 3 months later, it showed that my bone density was back to normal. It was honestly that easy, and an excellent excuse to experiment with some lovely gourmet French cheeses. 😊


So, what are the recommended dairy allowances?

250ml Milk

200ml pot of Yogurt

30gm Cheese

You need to include 3 portions of these every day. It doesn’t need to be one of each, but it must be 3. So, you could have 2x30gm of cheese and 250ml of milk. Or 3x250ml of milk. Or 2x200ml of yogurt and 30gm of cheese. You can choose the combination that suits you, although I did choose one of each every day.

Just a word of warning!

You will need to weigh the cheese in the beginning as 30gm is a very small amount (about the size of a standard matchbox) and it’s very easy to underestimate it.

Another tip for you all.  When it comes to cheddar cheese, the actual fat content remains the same – no matter what variety you buy. ‘Mild’, ‘Mature’, ‘Vintage’ etc. only refer to the length of time that the cheese was matured for. It is therefore better to use a stronger-flavoured cheese in your cooking, as you will get more flavour, but will need a smaller amount.

So, looking after our bones is much simpler than you may think. Just stick to the 3 portions rule.

Your bones will thank you!

Today’s article was written by our guest editor, Nikki Elphick. A nutritionist based in Cyprus. Check out her website here. For other articles in our lifestyle section, have a read here.