(no) More Cheese, Please!

I’ve mentioned this many, many times, but I’m lactose-intolerant.  Mine isn’t terrible – I can handle butter, many cheeses, and cream in my coffee.  Others aren’t so lucky (or unlucky, dairy can be fattening yo), so I think it’s important to know a few things about modifying meals and cooking to accommodate this sad, sad state of affairs.

Please note, before we go any further here, that I have never been formally diagnosed.  I am also not a registered dietician or health professional of any kind, so take this all as my personal experiences and not a how-to guide.  Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I’ve found:

  1. Soy milk is all right, but almond is better.  This is basically a personal preference thing, but if I’m going to drink a glass of milk, it is not going to be soy.  I’ve read scary things about soy and the effect it can have on women and children.  I also find that soy tastes a bit too “earthy” (essentially, like dirt).  Almond is nice, although lacking in some nutrients that soy has in abundance.  I do find that soy is much better for cooking with than almond, as the taste lends itself better to savoury dishes.  Since my intolerance has gotten much better over the years, I’ve stopped trying to cook with dairy alternatives and just use cream/milk whenever I need it, which is fairly rare anyway.
  2. Cheese is really tough to let go of, so make good choices.  It took me a few years to find this out, but different kinds of dairy products have different levels of lactose.  In general, the longer a cheese is aged, the less lactose it will have. So, a nice triple creme brie is lower in lactose than a fresh mozzarella.  Additionally, the more fat content a product has, the lower the lactose.  Cream will hurt less than skim milk, explaining why I can handle cream in my coffee but not sauces made with milk.
  3. When in doubt, cut it out. Seriously, if it’s hurting your stomach or causing you other kinds of intestinal distress, it’s not worth it.  I really struggle with this point, but it’s worth noting.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how tasty the cheese is, your life will go on without it.  There’s always goat cheese, unpasteurized organic cheese that is magically lactose free, or just eliminating it from your diet altogether.

I hope this is helpful for the two people that read this.  It’s really difficult to adjust your diet and lifestyle for nutritional needs, but it doesn’t have to be awful.  Although life without cheese is pretty bleak…

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