For about a year I’ve been really struggling.
I’ve struggled on car rides, shopping trips and with going to the gym. I’ve panicked at dinner parties, movie theaters and I’ve REALLY panicked at the bar. I’ve had to abruptly end phone calls, leave pots boiling on the stove, and have even called in sick to work. You’ve seen a hint of these moments, AKA Savage day, but only those that are closest to me have witnessed the extent of my struggling.
It’s the unwavering gurgle of my stomach when I eat a small snack. There’s the cramps that follow eating, the LOUD digestion sounds, and this awful hollow, yet overindulged feeling. There’s the daily morning sickness that sends me sprinting to the bathroom, paired with the “I need to go NOW” feeling. All of this has been happening…everyday… for a year. I masked these symptoms with FOUR daily doses of Pepto Bismol. I tried portable heating pads, I tried peppermint tea, I even tried digestive enzymes. None of these were helping.
About 2 weeks ago there was a two hour meeting scheduled at work. There was no way that I would be able to sit through that comfortably. I knew within 20 minutes that my nausea would send me flying out the door. It was in that moment that I made an appointment to see my doctor. Something was wrong.
After a few blood and sensitivity tests the cause for my struggling was clear.
I’m extremely Lactose Intolerant. WOW.
Is this a joke? But seriously… do you know how much I love Pizza?
As strange as this sounds, I was relieved to hear that this was the cause of my pain. With so many people facing terrible diseases and unknown illness, I consider myself lucky to have this issue as my ‘problem’. “This will be great.” I (originally) thought. “Who needs dairy?” I said.
Well, I’m only a week in and this is proving to be much more difficult than I originally thought. Not only am I giving up milk, but cheese, and sour cream, butter, and yogurt. I’m giving up my (normal) iced-coffee and ice cream and yogurt pops! Is anyone else craving mac and cheese now? And PIZZA. My beloved pizza. I did not work SIX years in the pizza industry to just walk away. RIGHT?
I had no idea what this was going to mean for me and my eating habits.
A few things that I’ve learned as I’ve started my life-long education in lactose:
- Being intolerant and having an allergy are very different. I am intolerant, I *can* consume dairy, it’s just painful. Those that are allergic are not able to “cheat” or “sneak” a bite.
- Not all cheese is full of lactose, only soft cheeses. Hard/aged cheeses are fine for me. Parmesan, Gouda, Sharp Cheddar, and goat cheese.
- There are several milk substitutes that can replace milk in most recipes. Almond, Coconut, soy* (more on that later) and lactose-free milk are all awesome options. (Thanks ALDI for having ALL of these).
- Most of the listed above substitutes also come in form of a creamer. (THANK YOU LORD)
Since eliminating dairy I finally feel normal again. My energy has been restored, I’m sleeping through the night, I’ve been working out harder and longer, and I’m able to make it through an entire day without any pepto. It’s been a long week of trying to piece together recipes and reading the ingredients on packaging, but I’m starting to (like) get used to life without lactose.
What are some of your favorite lactose-free meals?