How I Followed the Day-Off Diet Despite My Dietary Restrictions

Associate Research Editor Jennifer Cole doesn't do dairy and gluten, but she was still able to make the plan work for her.

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After a holiday season filled with hearty meals and endless sweets, I jumped on the chance to try Dr. Oz's Day-Off Diet. As someone who typically follows a healthy diet to begin with, I was looking forward to rebooting after the New Year. To be honest, however, I was a tad hesitant because the plan called for grains and dairy — things I typically avoid because I'm lactose intolerant and gluten sensitive. But I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to follow the diet despite my dietary restrictions. Here's how I did it:

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An Egg-cellent Breakfast

For breakfasts, I turned to the sunny-side-up duo with spinach and shallots. Although the diet recommends adding plain yogurt and a ¼ cup of berries along with it, I opted to add an extra egg and one serving of fruit in place of the dairy. This proved to be very effective and kept me fully energized throughout the mornings.

Burgers for Lunch? On a Diet?

Lunch was exciting because I didn't even have to make it! (The Hearst café cooked up some of the Day-Off Diet recipes last week.) Although I steered clear of the sandwich options, I loved the salsa turkey burger with sweet potato wedges and the soba noodles with tofu. I was surprised by how satisfied I felt afterward - typically I'm itching for something sweet following my usual lunchtime salad, but not this week. Who knew you could eat burgers and (gluten-free) noodles while still on a diet?!

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The Dinner Dilemma

Dinners were a little more challenging for me. Because several of the options had gluten (e.g. penne with chicken), I typically stuck to a combination of chicken with some sort of vegetable. But I often felt hungry just a few hours later and was craving something starchy like a baked sweet potato or spaghetti squash.

Can I Get More of that MUFA?

I loved being able to eat two daily MUFA snacks, even though at first the options seemed limited to vegetables and nuts. My mid-morning and after-dinner pick-me-ups usually involve fruit, so I was really missing that during the week, but I managed with substitutions like celery with almond butter and cinnamon.

Day-Off Delight

By the time my day off rolled around on Saturday, I'll admit I was itching for something sweet and delicious. I was thrilled to have more than one serving of fruit, wine, and dark chocolate. But by the time the day ended, I ultimately felt drained and sluggish. Needless to say I was happy to get back on track Sunday, and my energy levels instantly improved.

Overall, I'm happy that I committed and stuck to the diet for an entire week. It definitely took time and energy to prepare the meals and make swaps for ingredients containing gluten or dairy, but I could feel and see the results. Following a diet filled with protein, vegetables, and healthy fats really did make a difference - both internally and externally. And even though I'm looking forward to my chia pudding and butternut squash this week, I truly feel refueled and cleansed from the Day-Off Diet.

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