You indulge in an ice cream cone, delighting in the sweet cool treat as it contrasts with the newly warm weather. You relive your childhood, washing a peanut butter sandwich down with an ice cold glass of milk. You abandon restraint, grabbing a hunk of cheese as if it were a cracker or roll and biting in ferociously. You taste the overwhelming pleasure of dairy . . . and 30 minutes later you’re in the bathroom or headed for it because you’re lactose intolerant.
Your body, like 30 million others’, doesn’t properly digest lactose, making every nip of dairy a potential discomfort. You are regularly hit with overwhelming gas, cramps, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. You are constantly at war with yourself, fighting between a love of cheese and a hatred for the aftermath. Even on the dairy-less days, even when your restraint wins, there is still a good chance that your intolerance will disrupt your day, for, as you are constantly learning, so many non-dairy products have lactose. Salad dressings, instant soups, breads, cereals, candy, frozen dinners – all are hidden enemies, making your life, in a word, intolerable. And yet you have no choice but to tolerate it.
There’s no way to eliminate lactose intolerance. Once you have it, you have it forever. And unless you want to spend the bulk of your days feeling bloated, nauseous and just plain gross, you have to avoid the cursed foods. If you’re lucky, you can get by eating the lower lactose products such as yogurts and cheese, or consuming dairy with other food so as to slow the process and limit the reaction. If you’re not, talk with your doctor about which items to avoid, read lists of ingredients and opt for lactose-free products (not non-dairy – that’s not the same thing). Restrict your diet, and although, you’ll be without milk, you’ll also be without discomfort
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