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Should We “Got Milk”? or Not?


Growing up we can probably all remember hearing  “Drink your milk if you want to grow up to be big and strong!” The dairy industry took over and everyone was making sure that they “Got Milk.” However, is a lot of milk really good for you or is this milk overload just a successful marketing ploy from the dairy industry?


We asked Hilton Head Health’s(H3) registered dietitian, Felicia Hackett and H3 Director of Education, Bob Wright to give us some perspective on the whole milk or no milk debate.

                                    Felicia Hackett                                                  Bob Wright

                                 Felecia Hackett                                                    Bob Wright

Milk: a Cultural Trend

“I think that we are enculturated to think that we need milk,” said Hackett. “The dairy industry has large lobbies to protect their business.”  Hackett explains that milk, and dairy and general, do not necessarily give us any health benefits if consumed at large amounts. “In fact, almost 65% of the world’s population has some level of reduced ability to digest milk,” said Hackett. Most of the studies that are in favor of dairy products are funded by companies that make money off of dairy sales like Dairy Management.


“Milk is definitely not the power food we thought it was a decade ago,” said Wright. “I think we are in a big period of debate and unknown as to how much dairy should be in our diet, and what type.”

A Diet that is Down to the Basics

Wright explains that at Hilton Head Health “we try to get down to the basics.” There are a lot of different opinions and trends out there when it comes to dieting so it can become confusing as to what is right. “At the Finding Common Ground conference in 2015 nutritional experts from all diets, including paleo, vegan, etc. all met together to try to come up with some common ground with diets,” said Wright. “They came up with a diet heavy with leafy greens, lentils and low or nonfat dairy-the Mediterranean diet.” Guests at Hilton Head Health enjoy nutritious and satisfying meals inspired by the Mediterranean diet.


The Mediterranean diet is based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in abundance.  “If you take a look at the totality of the Mediterranean diet we have wiggle room to include cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt,” explains Hackett.  “If you are consuming a standard American diet that wiggle room no longer exists.” The Harvard Healthy Eating plate recommends 1-2 servings of dairy per day. One serving is equal to 8oz of milk, 1oz of cheese, 1/2c of cottage cheese and ice cream, and 6oz of yogurt. 


Here are some tips for what you should avoid, eat or substitute in the dairy world


  • high fat (ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese)
  • added sugar (blended yogurt, ice cream)
  • high sodium (cheese) 

 “The salt, sugar and fat that is found in dairy have addictive properties,” said Hackett.


  • broccoli
  • dark leafy greens
  • almonds
  • okra  
  • green beans


By limiting dairy to the recommended servings does not mean you are depleting your calcium intake. In the Mediterranean Diet the abundance of foods veggies and whole grains are packed with calcium.


  •  almond milk
  • rice milk
  • coconut milk
  • cashew milk
  • hemp milk


You can even go the route of substituting milk altogether. “The only recommendation I give is to buy unsweetened,” advises Hackett.

So Should We “Got Milk?”

“I personally am not willing to completely cut dairy out of my diet,” said Wright. The Mediterranean diet gives the option of including the recommended servings of low-nonfat dairy in a healthy and nutritious way. So if you got an abundance of leafy greens, whole grains and fruits, then it’s okay if you Got low to nonfat Milk! Come to Hilton Head Health and enjoy chef-prepared meals from the Meditteranean diet and incorporate dairy in a healthy way.