Showing posts with label lactose intolerance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lactose intolerance. Show all posts

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance seems to be a buzzword in today’s world. Most of us know the term means some type of issue with milk, but what is it exactly? Does it vary in intensity? And how do you know if you have lactose intolerance?

Lactose is the sugar found in milk and dairy products and can cause problems when the body does not produce enough lactase to digest it. When you are unable to properly process lactose in your body, you can experience a host of symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Discomfort and/or gurgling in your belly

The best way to be diagnosed is by a doctor – not self-diagnoses! But if you notice that you have digestive issues when you consume dairy, it’s worth monitoring your symptoms until you are able to see a doctor.

If you discover that you are intolerant of lactose, it can feel like the world – at least, your eating world – is coming to an end. And truthfully, those with severe lactose intolerance may have to limit their menu. But food intolerances often span a spectrum. So if you discover that you are lactose intolerant, don’t count all as lost just yet.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to allow some time for your digestive system to heal after exposure to lactose. But once you are feeling well, you can start to experiment with your tolerance to lactose. For some people, you can have a small amount per day. Other people can have a serving or two per week without symptoms. Lactase supplements may help with your tolerance.

Foods like hard cheeses and Greek yogurt often digest a bit easier, compared to milk and ice cream. Be patient, and try a few foods at a time. If you have a severe reaction to a trial food, give your system time to heal before trying another food. You might also consider diary products from animals other than cows. Goat yogurt, milk, and cheese is often tolerated by those with lactose intolerance. 

If you discover that your reaction to dairy is severe – or you simply want to avoid it – there are plenty of alternatives! From coconut milk yogurt, to rice-based cheeses, you do not need to feel deprived. Insider tip: eat soy and rice-based cheeses as part of recipes, rather than alone. Remember that they are made of different ingredients, so there will be some taste/texture differences. But with some trial and error, you’ll find the ones that work best for your tastes and recipes. (For example, check out this dairy free macaroni and cheese recipe!)

If you are game to try to heal your intolerance, some medical professionals believe you may be able to cure it. With time and persistence, you may find relief, or perhaps, just higher tolerance.

So, if you find yourself facing a dairy intolerance, take one step at a time. It’s an opportunity to find new toppings for your burger, play with new pizza recipes, and explore flavor combinations you’ve never experienced. And as you explore, keep us posted on your progress!

What dairy-free recipes have you tried that you’ve loved?

Contributing Writer

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Living with (and Being) Someone with Food Intolerances

It seems like you can’t go a day without hearing about someone who has a food intolerance, or knows someone that does. Restaurants all over the world are adjusting and marking up their menus due to the onslaught of people who are discovering that they have an allergy or an intolerance to a certain food. What used to be a simple diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is turning into an intensive search for the crux of the digestive ailment, and more and more folks are finding that certain foods are triggers.

Sliced bread

While the lifestyle change for the sufferer can be significant, what about for those around them? How do you go from being able to grocery shop easily without too much challenge, to the monumental task of reading each and every label to ensure that the person you love doesn’t get sick simply by eating their dinner?

The good news: This is a surprisingly simple adaptation, and once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it becomes no big deal. But for those just starting out, here are some tips that can make your journey a bit easier, both on you and the one you love.

First, this is a great time to get in some practice using your patience. This isn’t a fast process initially, and you are going to make some mistakes. Accept that, and keep moving forward. Sit down and talk to your loved one(s), and make sure everyone is on the same page. If someone in the family doesn’t want to be part of this, set some boundaries so at least the sufferer’s health is protected. You might consider some basic kitchen rules:
  • Keep offending foods in a specific area, or on a marked shelf in the refrigerator or pantry.
  • Crumbs must be cleaned up immediately.
  • Depending on the severity of the intolerance, you may need to set aside specific utensils, tools, and appliances for use only by the intolerance sufferer.
  • No “oopsies” can occur.
  • This isn’t an opportunity to tease the person with the intolerance – this is usually only an issue with kids, but some adults pose a challenge at times.

Second, make a list of the foods that you usually buy that may be suspect. When starting out, it’s perfectly normal to be unsure of what to look for on a food label. While your loved one may be allergic to soy, you can’t just look for soy on a food label – soy goes by many different names and is in many foods. Before you risk pulling your hair out, here are some great resources for the most common allergens and their many names on a food label.

Next, make sure you have plenty of time when you go to the grocery store, and try to pick a time when it’s not as crowded. Relax, wear comfortable clothing, and if possible, leave small children at home. Then slowly go through the foods you typically buy and evaluate their labels. If a food you enjoy contains an allergen you need to avoid, check out other options there in the aisle, and ask the store if they have foods that do not contain your allergen. Many food manufacturers are becoming more sensitive to allergies, so they produce specially made foods that are marked free of allergens. If you can’t find a substitute, don’t panic! There are plenty of resources on the internet for your favorite foods sans allergens. Check out the Free from Market, the Gluten Free Mall, Allergy Free Kosher, and Amazon.

Do not rely solely on the manufacturer’s allergen statement. While they are often accurate, occasionally, they are not aware that an ingredient is a problem and there is no legal standard requiring them to list allergens, so make sure you read the entire label and compare the ingredients against your cheat sheet.

Woman chopping vegetables

Lastly, explore some new recipes. With our internet age at hand, there are no excuses when it comes to boring food! If you are searching for a recipe free of a specific allergen, simply enter that into your search engine of choice. For example, if you are looking for a dairy-free mint chocolate chip ice cream recipe, simply type in “dairy free mint chocolate chip ice cream.” You’ll get plenty of choices to choose from. Remember that bloggers who write recipes are people just like you and me, so they may have some errors in their recipes, so use your best judgment.

Finding out that you or your loved ones have a food intolerance is not the end of the world, though it can feel jarring in the beginning. Once you get used to it, you will discover new foods and recipes that you would not have tried otherwise, and you find that it is only a minor inconvenience.

Contributing Writer