Am I Lactose Intolerant? (Q&A’s)

I had a feeling that I may have been slightly lactose intolerant as a child; after any meal that included an excessive amount of cheese or milk I could cue the mild stomach cramps and bloating after 30 minutes, however, I’ve never experienced the extreme side of lactose intolerance like desperately needing the toilet which is why it made it easier  for me to ignore the mile lactose intolerance tell-tell signs…It seems most people do also. If you experience bloating quite often it’s definitely worth looking into why you do. There could be many different reasons for the cause of your bloating after meals but if your diet includes a lot of dairy products there’s a chance you may be lactose intolerant. In a Q&A format I’ve covered all you need to know about lactose intolerance, the signs and foods you can replace some dairy products with.

Cool, so in simple terms, what exactly is lactose intolerance, and what is lactose?
Most dairy products such as milk contain lactose, lactose is a sugar molecule that is made up of two smaller sugars; glucose and galactose. Being lactose intolerant simply means your body struggles to digest lactose because of a deficiency of lactase in your body which is the enzyme your body produces to break down lactose.

Great…So how can I produce lactase in my body so I can chow down all the cheese?
Well we’re all born with the ability to produce lactase as babies, this helps us digest breast milk but we produce a lot less lactase by the time we’re two year’s old (when we no longer need the breast milk)…There may be products  claiming to help you produce more lactase in the body in order to break down the lactose in your dairy foods but if your body  is responding so violently to something you’re eating, it might not be worth the hassle…We have to trust our bodies sometimes.

So does this mean I shouldn’t consume dairy products?
I mean, I’m not demanding you change your entire diet, what you eat is your choice, but if you genuinely react badly to dairy products then perhaps start cutting down on your dairy intake at least. The best way I tested my intolerance to latose was to go literally 5 days without any dairy products, on the 6th day I had milk and cheese and my stomach immediate cramped. It’s hard to tell when you eat dairy products on a daily basis, your body almost gets used to bloating. Holistic nutritionists would advise not to drink any other animal’s milk and in general any dairy products. I’ve cut down quite a lot and I’ve noticed a difference in how I feel after meals.

So what are the symptoms of someone with lactose intolerance?
Symptoms vary and happen within the first 2 hours of consumption and range from the following:

  • Abdominal bloating accompanied by abdominal distension
  • Gas, indigestion, flatulence, and abdominal pain
  • “Borborygmi” – Rumbling and gurgling sounds made by the movement of liquid and gas in the stomach and intestines
  • Nausea which may be followed by vomiting (extreme cases)
  • Diarrhea (extreme cases)

Ugh, I think I may be lactose intolerant…which foods should I stay clear of?

  • Cow’s milk, milkshakes, chocolate milk and similar milk-based beverages.
  • Cream, whipped cream and most coffee creamers.
  • Ice cream and ice milk.
  • Most cheeses.
  • Puddings and custards.
  • Sour cream and cream based soups, sauces and dressings.

Are there any replacements you can recommend?

Milk – There are a tonne of lactose free milks you can buy including coconut milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk. You can buy them from most supermarkets or you can try making them.
Cheese – I tried a brand called violife, they produce vegan cheese, it’s not amazing lol but that’s because I find it quite mild…I LOVE mature cheddar cheese, so if you’re ok with mild tasting cheese then you’ll be cool with this brand. Should cost you around £2 from most supermarkets.
Yogurt – Again, you won’t have to look too far to find lactose-free milks, just make sure you check the sugar content, a lot of free-from yogurts are consequently stacked with sugar so have a look. Greek yogurt contains about half (or less) lactose as regular yogurts as the straining process removes most of the whey and lactose, so if you’re only slightly lactose intolerant then Greek Yogurt may be a good replacement.

In most supermarkets they should have vegan options for most dairy products, have a look around and ask in the store. You may not like the first replacement you try but there are options. Also keep a food diary! I use Dining Note: Simple Food Diary which was free to download and it’s so simple.

The app clearly maps out your meal groups into categories and you can literally just tap and type what you ate, it’s so helpful to look back over the week just gone and see habits you might not have realised you had so it makes it easier to tweak realistic goals.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re suffering from the symptoms mentioned above, it could be related to your dairy intake but these symptoms also cross over to other intolerances and illnesses so be sure to seek professional help if you’re concerned. There’s no harm in cutting out dairy to see how you feel though!

Have I missed any lactose-free gems? Comment below or tweet me @HRoyalThighness