Oh No! I am lactose intolerant!

  • I am so upset. I have just recently discovered that I developed a lactose intolerance condition. Apparently, itís pretty common for adults to develop this condition even if theyíve been drinking milk all their life. And I am a huge fan of milk and all dairy . I eat cottage cheese, regular cheese (low-fat mind you), eat yogurt (fat-free), drink milk, use creamer (just a little bit) in my coffee, you name it, if thereís a dairy product out there, I use it. And what about my calcium intake? Ughhh, I am screwed.
    So what am I supposed to do now? Ok, so there is lactose-free milk, itís not the same, but not too bad. Donít like soy milk, it just tastes like soy flavored water, although I can settle for soy latte, again, not the same, but better than plain coffee. But what about yogurt, cottage cheese, regular cheese, even ice-cream, Iím not that big on ice-cream, but still would like to indulge every once in a great while. And I checked, there is no such thing as lactose-free ice cream in my grocery store.
    I know it might seem like a silly problem, but I just donít know where to turn with this. I have been trying so hard to make my food healthier and dairy was a big part of that effort. Now I feel like my body is working against me on this. Anyone out there who can offer some advise? Any suggestions are welcome.
  • Nina! It's tough to be lactose intolerant since milk is in SO many foods! DH and DS have been lactose intolerant for 15 years, so I understand how hard it can be. Don't despair! There are tons of products without milk/lactose and some made specifically for people with lactose intolerance. But you're going to become a big-time label reader! There's whey and milk in things you'd never expect. Don't be surprised if your first few trips to the grocery store take twice as long as usual.

    Maybe I'm used to it, but Lact-Aid milk tastes fine to me. My store carries it in whole, 2%, skim, and chocolate. Lact-Aid also makes cottage cheese and ice cream. Breyers also makes a lactose free vanilla ice cream.

    As for cheeses, some lactose intolerant people are OK with aged cheeses, like cheddar, swiss, blue etc. Butter has very little lactose in it, and Fleishmann's unsalted margarine is lactose-free (most margarines have whey in them, which is milk). Here's a handy chart showing the lactose content of most dairy products.

    When my guys want to eat something dairy, they take Lact-Aid pills.

    Those work for them on moderate amounts of dairy, but even with them, there's no way would they'd be able to drink a glass of real milk or eat real ice cream (those two seem to give the worst reaction).

    It's going to be OK! You'll find substitutes for all your healthy foods and maybe the Lact-Aid pills will work for you. And think how much better you'll feel without the lactose!
  • Well, I do know that lactase (an enzyme) can be successful at helping to combat lactose intolerance- especially if you are lucky and only mildly or moderately intolerant. It can either be added to milk 24 hours before injestion to "pre-digest" the lactose (you might even be able to find "lactase added milk" at your store) or taken directly before injesting dairy products.

    It's not a 100% cure-all, but it can help reduce the payback for eating dairy.

    Also, goat's milk is naturally low in lactose- as well as cheeses and other dairy made from it.

    The good news (if there is any) is that a lot of people end up being lactose-intollerant at one point in their lives, so there are a lot of low lactose and lactose free dairy products available. And, most people who are intollerant can eat a given amount of dairy at a meal with no problems what-so-ever. I can eat cheese and yogurt (which is naturally lower in lactose), and I can cook with milk, but drinking milk itself or having too much with cereal makes me feel quite ill.

    So, don't get too worried yet. Begin by drastically reducing your dairy, then add it back in a bit at a time until you find what your tollerances are. Search for the low-lactose or pre-lactased dairy items if desired and consider trying supplements if needed. You'll soon find that you're back in the game!
  • Thanks, Meg,
    That chart is actually really helpful. I have spent these last couple of days since I discovered the cause of why Iíve been getting sick over the last months, trying to gather information and though I have heard of Lact-Aid, Iíve been afraid of trying it. Some people Iíve talked to said it only works if you are consuming very small amounts of lactose. If your DH and DS are lactose intolerant, you know how unpleasant and painful it can get when you over-estimate your level of tolerance. I donít want to gross out anyone, but it gets NASTY.
    I had just discovered that whey is milk! Damn, why donít they just say milk, ha?
    You are totally right about my grocery shopping taking twice as long, itís so funny you said that, I actually ended up late for a couple of things because I really didnít think it was going to take that long.
    I read your story, by the way, and WOW. You look like one oí them beach body poster girls. Way to go, I am impressed out of my mind.

    It seems so far that my intolerance is quite severe. I have tried some cheese yesterday (thatís supposed to be low-lactose) and REALLY suffered the consequences. Which is actually pretty strange, because I grew up drinking milk and eating dairy every day. In fact, I used to spend summers in the country, where my grandparents had a small farm with cows and goats and all sorts of farm animals, so I ate raw eggs straight from the chickenís nest and drank totally unprocessed milk simply filtered through a cheese-cloth.
    My gramís will have a fit when I tell her, sheís too old to farm now, so she lives with my uncle, but I have a feeling sheís going to try and convince me that itís all in my head.
    I havenít been able to find the lactose-free ice cream you are talking about, but I might check my local ďTrader JoeísĒ for that. And cheese, I guess itís none for now, but I will try adding a slice here and then.

    Ladies, thanks again for your advice, it was very helpful. It also made me feel like Iím not alone in this new challenge.
  • Nina, maybe try the Lact-Aid pills with something from the list that's very low in lactose? Be sure to take two at a time - that's what works for my guys. And you bet I understand the consequences!!

    DH is more intolerant than DS and can only have a serving of very aged Romano or Roquefort cheese every other day (with the pills). But he's just fine with the Lact-Aid milk, cottage cheese and ice cream. Sadly, he grew up on a farm and drank a gallon of milk every day. It's hard to give up, I know.

    Another hidden source of lactose - if you're really intolerant - are prescription and over the counter medications Lactose is frequently used as a cheap filler for pills (capsules seem to be OK). If it's over the counter, it should be listed as an inactive ingredient. If it's a prescription, I look up the ingredients at RXList.

    BTW, sodium lactate is NOT dairy even though it sounds like it is, so don't panic if you see that on an ingredient list.

    Good luck!
  • Thanks, Meg, you're awesome, all of this information really helps. Are there good websites you would recommend for information on this stuff?
  • I used to hate soymilk with a PASSION, and then I switched brands and flavours. I switched to either Belsoy, or vitasoy, both in the vanilla flavour ( the vitasoy is "enriched" I believe). I have found that I can still have feta cheese, low fat marble cheese doesn't really bother me either. The most interesting thing I've noticed about my little dairy allergy is that it seems to have a build-up quality, so if I have ice cream once every 6 months it doesn't bother me, it does bother me if I have it more than once in a couple days. But this is years after I found out my allergy. Experiement with lots of different soy and lact-aid milk, I know a girl who grew to love soy cheese!

    As for your calcium intake, you can get SO much calcium from other sources, I personally take a calcium suppliment, mainly due to TOM issues.

    It'll take some experimentation, but you'll figure it out! As a person with some very annoying food allergies and sensitivities I understand how hard it can be, as a young girl I remember just wanting to be "normal". Now I'm actually greatful for them, I am currently the ONLY one in the family with a gallbladder, I don't have to deal with any of the health issues the rest of my family does because I just can't eat the way they do. It's been a blessing in disguise. I wish you the best of luck in finding what works for you Oh, and sorry for the long winded post.. heh

  • Swimgirl,
    What do you mean youíre the only one with a gallbladder? Does dairy have a lot to do with gallstones? I haven't noticed that so far. Can you explain if you have a chance. Thanks for your input.
  • NinaV - Everyone in my family has had to get their gallbladder taken out by the time they were 21, from what I understand it has to do with our heritage, apparently people who are Aborigional are prone to gallstones. Because of my food sensitivities I've had to avoid lots of different things, and according to a doctor I saw those were important factors why I haven't had it removed. It's not directly related to dairy, but dairy has only been one part of the food allergies I've had to deal with. Hope that clears it up, if not, please ask more

  • Nina - I don't know of any web sites but they may be out there. This is all just stuff I put together over 15 years as chief cook and grocery shopper for the family.

    Aimee reminded me about soy cheese ... DH likes it melted on burgers and hoagies. The brand I get is VeggieLovers and it comes in a bunch of flavors. Tofutti makes sour cream and cream cheese substitutes from soy and there's a bunch of soy based ice creams and even Rice Dream, made from rice. There are a lot more options in health food stores and sections of supermarkets than there were 15 years ago!

    Have fun experimenting and if I ever can help, send me a PM.
  • My daughter is lactose intolerant & had this to say lactose reduced products. The soy milk is gross, she agrees there. However, she says the soy yogurts & soy smoothies are good. We've never tried the soy cheese, but the lacotse reduced/free cheese is ok, but barely. She likes the Lactaid milk, though. The lactose pills work, but she reccommends Lactaid brand not store or generic brands. She also dislikes the flavored types. We've tried many, many products for her & we often settle for the Lactaid pills becasue she's really reluctant to give up dairy no matter how sick she gets. Best wishes ~