I am one of those rare people who was actually born lactose intolerant. Somehow, I became even more lactose intolerant before the age of 5, which is when an intolerance typically develops. That’s because what little lactase enzyme I had left in my intestines to begin with was wiped out by an overdose of antibiotics.
On top of all this, I decided to become a vegetarian at the age of 15. And if you’ve been a vegetarian for any length of time, you know that most “vegetarian options” on the menu contain cheese or some other form of dairy — even the salads. What this means is that I’ve spent most of my life either starving or gassy.
As most lactose intolerants do, I threw caution to the wind in my young life. I drank lactose-free milk, but you better believe I still ate ice cream and cheese. I took all the lactase enzyme supplements and I lived my life! But as I got older, everything dairy gave me more trouble. At this point, I’m nearly dairy-free (most of the time). Luckily, the world has slowly caught on to the evils of dairy, so I have a lot more options than I did when I was young.
If you or someone you love is lactose intolerant, you know we’re all a little different. Some people can eat cheese, but can’t drink milk. Others get gassy or nauseated, but don’t have diarrhea and stomach cramps. But one thing binds us all together: We will foolishly eat or drink dairy expecting a different result because lactose intolerance is not the boss of us!
So grab a coffee with almond milk creamer and settle in for 10 truths all of us lactose intolerant people have come to know.
But one last note for all of you dairy lovers out there. National Institutes of Health research shows that 75 percent of the world loses the ability to digest lactose at some point. So don’t get too comfortable — your lactose intolerant nightmare might be right around the corner!
1. It’s Just A Little Bit Of (Fill In Dairy Product Of Choice).
You justify enjoying some sweet, sweet parmesan cheese, butter or whipped cream because it’s only a little on the top. Right? Cut to 30 minutes later when the gurgling begins.
2. It’s Fine. I’ll Just Take This Lactase Pill And I Can Eat Whatever I Want!
Everyone with lactose intolerance knows that the best way to take the edge off all that bloating, gas and diarrhea you will inevitably still get is to take a lactase enzyme that will only sort of help you digest dairy properly. Even though the Mayo Clinic points out these lying liar pills may not help everyone with lactose intolerance, we will not be deterred!
3. I’ll Just Eat This Lasagna At Home. My Family Will Still Love Me Even If I’m Gassy.
You are about to seriously test the limits of their love. And their abilities to tell jokes about your flatulence.
4. Cool, Cool The Only Vegetarian Option You Have Is Mac And Cheese.
The lactose intolerant vegetarian weighs her options: starvation or a long night hanging out in the bathroom.
5. I’m Just Going To Sip This Latte Suspiciously For 5 Minutes Trying To Figure Out If I Was Accidentally Given Whole Milk Instead Of Almond.
Every time you get an incorrect coffee order, the same debate rages in your mind. Do I drink this and bloat to the size of a hot air balloon? Or do I ask the barista to remake my drink and risk seeming difficult and picky to her and to everyone else waiting in line? The struggle is real.
6. This Sorbet Is Delicious!
No, it’s not. It is not ice cream.
7. I’m So Glad They Have Dairy-Free Cheese So I Can Eat Pizza Like A Normal Person.
I don’t know what that vegan cheese is, but no one is glad to be eating it. No cheese is better than that cheese. It’s kind of sweet but also tastes like plastic. It doesn’t even melt in a normal way. You’re not fooling anyone, vegan cheese!
8. I Love Those Times When A Restaurant Employee Asks Me If I Have Any Food Allergies And I Whisper, “A Dairy Allergy, But It’s Not A Big Deal.”
Fifty percent of the time, I get an eye roll because it’s not a real allergy. The other fifty percent of the time, they yell at someone else on the line or in the kitchen, “we have a dairy allergy!” Which basically signals to everyone else in the restaurant that they may soon smell something unfortunate.
9. Kids’ Birthday Parties Are Always Really Fun Because Of All The Great Food Options.
Cheese pizza. Goldfish crackers. String cheese. Ice cream. And that beautiful cake with buttercream icing. It’s like a field of lactose intolerance landmines. At least you can blame all your gas and that toilet you clogged on the kids!
10. I Didn’t Eat Anything With Dairy In It; Why Am I Having Stomach Cramps?
After I’ve let my mental panic stop telling me that I must have colon cancer, I start running through the list of things I ate that day. Recently, I realized that my fiber supplement may be “exposed to milk enzymes.” WHY? Naan bread has buttermilk in it. Even veggie burgers aren’t safe. Why do all of these things have dairy in them? Because dairy makes everything delicious. Read those food labels, friends!
What do you know to be true as a person with lactose intolerance?