A year and a half ago I began noticing some changes. I didn’t know what to make of it, and honestly, I didn’t want to face it. They were small at first….an upset stomach here and there, but by the end of last year, I was nauseous within minutes of eating certain foods.
Fast forward to January of 2020 when I finally got up the nerve to talk to a doctor about it. I had some bloodwork done and a hydrogen breath test which confirmed what I already suspected: I’m lactose intolerant.
What is lactose intolerance?
It’s when your body doesn’t produce lactase, an intestinal enzyme that breaks down the sugar in dairy products. It’s not a milk allergy which can be life-threatening. It’s an intolerance which is completely different. When that sugar is unable to be broken down it triggers a range of symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating, and gas.
Yep, not the most glamourous of topics to discuss.
My question to the doctor was: can you become lactose intolerant in your 30’s? I mean this seems like something that would’ve affected me from birth, but apparently getting diagnosed with lactose intolerance in adulthood is pretty common. It’s called primary lactose intolerance.
That means my body originally produced lactase, and for some unknown reason, it just stopped.
My absolute favorite foods are pizza and ice cream….both contain dairy. It’s been a tradition since I was a child that Friday nights are “pizza night.” My mom, dad, brother, and I would go to a sit-down pizza restaurant where we had our favorite waitress, Penny, wait on us each week. She knew exactly what we were going to order every time.
Once I had my own family, I continued the Friday night tradition, but we ordered delivery instead.
Learning to live without pizza
While it’s hard to accept that dairy is my stomach’s enemy – I have adjusted my diet over the last few months. I’ve also implemented a daily probiotic because gut health is so important.
I actually don’t drink milk…I haven’t since I was pregnant with our first son (who’s now 12). I now wonder if nausea with milk was my first clue. Many women get turned off by certain foods while pregnant so at the time I didn’t think anything of it, but after the pregnancy, I stuck with almond milk and never implemented cows milk in my diet again.
So I read up on lactose intolerance a lot and experimented with lactase chewable supplements which honestly don’t work very well for me.
I gave up ice cream next. That seemed to be a huge trigger for my lactose intolerance. I would get so sick to my stomach after eating it or having a milkshake. That was really, really hard for me to face.
Coldstone is my absolute favorite ice cream shop, but I can’t go there anymore. I also loved taking the boys to Disney Springs and stopping into Ghiradelli for a cool treat, but that’s also not an option any longer.
Yes, I’ve tried dairy-free ice cream which seems to be really hard to find in a pandemic y’all! I find that most brands lack a variety of flavors, but I have narrowed it down to almond milk dairy-free ice cream versus coconut milk.
After all of this, I still tried to eat pizza. I said okay – I’ll have one slice with my chewable supplement, but I was still getting sick. So, I’ve finally accepted that I can’t have cheese anymore which is found in like everything I like!!
Cheeseburgers, baked ziti, fettuccini alfredo….and so on. It’s all gone.
It’s been a tough thing to accept especially since I was able to eat these foods for more than 30 years. I SO wish there was a major pizza chain that made dairy-free pizza!
Are you lactose intolerant?
If you are wondering if you may be lactose intolerant or facing some of the lactose intolerance symptoms I mentioned above, definitely find out now before it continues to get worse. Don’t suffer as long as I did.
And if you’re lactose intolerant – leave a comment below. Share your story or your favorite dairy-free alternatives. I’d love to know, and I’m sure readers would as well.