It's not you, guys, it's me. I'm sorry, but it seems as though my intestines have decided it's time to break up. I have no say in the matter. If it was up to me, we'd continue our dysfunctional love affair.
After thousands of dollars in doctor visits, medical procedures, and test results that yielded no answers, I've come to the conclusion through the process of elimination that I believe I'm dairy intolerant, and that it has been a main cause of of my stomach and digestive problems for over a year now (although, I believe that there's still more going on). However, I don't believe that I'm lactose intolerant. I believe that it may be more than that, and that one or both of the proteins found in dairy products may be to blame--casein and whey.
Why do I believe this? Well, there are a few reasons. First, my lactose breath test came back normal. Second, I can't drink lactose-free milk without problems. Third, yogurt (which I don't like anyway) and cheese still make me feel ill, and in theory, they shouldn't if I had just a simple lactose intolerance. Even butter in large quantities, like using it to saute food, causes me problems and discomfort, and butter has almost no lactose. All of these products, though, still have milk proteins in them. So, by process of elimination, it seems more likely and logical that the intolerance would be a result of an inability to tolerate the proteins as opposed to the lactose.
I've noticed that eliminating these foods have made me feel better (although still not completely normal), and that makes me sad. Who wants to voluntarily give up pizza? Because, let me tell you, pizza with no cheese is not pizza. Not to me, anyway.
|Image from the Internet.|
It's fairly common to become lactose intolerant as we age, but other than a mild intolerance to milk for my husband, I know very few people who have this problem. This is a huge lifestyle change, and I'll admit, it's been a struggle. Removing dairy has frustrated me in ways I can't even describe, not only in cooking at home, but also in grocery shopping and eating out or at the homes of others. Plus, it's been very difficult to give up foods that I love cold-turkey, like ice cream and cheese. I can only sit by and drool longingly as my husband eats his Talenti gelato or cheesy pizza, knowing that for as long as I live, I won't be able to eat some of the things I loved anymore. But not all is lost--I've discovered some ways around my intolerance. Below is a small list of things I've discovered.
Some good alternatives to using butter in baking and cooking:
- Lard (if you can find it)
- Olive oil (plain or infused)
- Coconut oil (solid up to 78 degrees)
- Clarified butter or ghee (often sold at health food stores) or you can make your own (coming soon!!)
- Earth Balance spreads (made of various vegetable oils--they do offer a soy-free flavor)
- Cooking sprays, like Pam
- Almond, rice, oat, or coconut milk (I use unsweetened coconut milk for most baking recipes, sweet breads, pancakes, etc.)
Foods that I like:
- A decent dairy-free ice cream I've found: So Delicious brand Peanut Butter Zig Zag, but this is a soy-based ice cream, and some people are adamantly opposed to soy products. It's been the best substitute for real ice cream that I've found. Coconut and almond-based ice creams tend to have a coconut or almond flavor to them, regardless of the overall flavor of the product. It's a bit pricey for what you get, though. I can usually find this at Kroger.
- I've tried some imitation cheeses, and am sad to report that they are just not good, especially the Daiya brand. Don't waste your money.
- Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips and mega chunks--these are great! I think they have better flavor than the regular chips. The only drawback is the price, around $4.50 a bag. However, they are easily found in most large chain grocery stores--Meijer carries them in their gluten-free section in my town. I just pick up a bag whenever I go grocery shopping to try and stock up slowly.
Here's a helpful printable with some great non-dairy conversion suggestions (I have not tried these yet, but I do keep this in my kitchen):
And just a little picture of a puppy to make your day a little more fun: