Living with Lactose Intolerance [Part 1]

posted on: Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Image via: Free People Blog

I see all these memes about lactose intolerance like this one and this one, and although I have a sense of humor and I can laugh about my own issues, it's hard for me to find humor in these because I have not so pleasant memories of being curled up with severe stomach discomfort as a child and not having a clue why. 

As a kid I remember having strong stomach aches. I had no idea what triggered it but all of a sudden it would start and I would cry and hold my stomach and just try to find relief but not really succeeding. I would try to tell myself to relax and to just pretend like it wasn't all that bad, but it was really bad. 

I noticed that ice cream would always give me a stomachache and I stopped eating ice cream at a very early age. Even then I would still get discomfort and over the years it kept getting worse and worse.

I grew up in a house of milk lovers. My dad and my sisters still have several glasses of milk a day. I never loved milk and when possible I would opt for juice or just plain water. In Brazil, I would normally drink a glass of juice, or a cup of tea, and eat some bread and fruit for breakfast.

When I left for college and came back to the U.S I would always have a big bowl of cereal with milk in the mornings, because that's what everyone ate and that's what the cafeteria had available. I started noticing my stomach aches coming back and I would usually be really uncomfortable during class. That's when I started skipping breakfast, because I thought that the problem was eating in the morning, I never made the connection that the real problem was milk and was lacking solutions to effectively overcome this barrier while still consuming dairy foods

After my first year of college, I went back to Brazil and left on a two month field study, in remote areas where I just didn't have access to milk. After three weeks without milk I noticed that I had been feeling great, that for the first time in my life I wasn't suffering from stomachaches. Then I was moved to a different location, where there were cows right there on the farm, and the family that hosted me served milk for breakfast. About an hour after breakfast I was so sick. It was one of the worst episodes I ever had and my stomach hurt so much I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. That's when I finally made the connection, that drinking milk makes me feel sick and was there even a solution to still drink milk?

Stubborn as I am I tested my theory a couple times after that incident, not by drinking a full glass of milk but by having milk with cereal, or milk with oatmeal, and inevitably I would get sick. I never thought that slowly introducing dairy foods back into my diet may work or even giving lactose-free milk a try, its real-cow’s milk, just without the lactose and providing the same essential nutrients.

The National Dairy Council has created a great resource page about Lactose Intolerance and Dairy to help people understand what lactose intolerance is and isn't. The thing is that lactose intolerance affects people in different ways. I know people who can't have any dairy at all, while I can't have a glass of milk I can certainly make quiche and add both milk and cheese to the recipe. So many of the recipes I create have dairy and they don't make me sick. 

People have different levels of intolerance and don’t have to miss out on the great taste and health benefits of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.  It’s important to understand it so you can be better prepared with a solution to meet most needs in the dairy case – from lactose-free milk to dairy foods that are typically easier to digest. Whether you are hosting a party and wants to make a recipe that has dairy that is great for everyone, or if you are experiencing stomach pains and are wondering if you are lactose intolerant.

Stay tuned, in my next post I will share some tips for living with and managing your lactose intolerance.

This post was sponsored by the National Dairy Council. As always all opinions are my own.

This post was sponsored by the National Dairy Council. As always all opinions are my own.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails