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I'm sick of being lactose intolerant

  • r

Ok, so I became lactose intolerant sometime in my thirties. It took over a year for my idiot self to figure out -- a miserable year. I've been "living" with it for about four years now and I'm not happy!

It is so inconsistant for me. One day I can get away with a whole ice cream cone. Another day the mere picture of a cow lays me out for twenty four hours. I know what you're thinking -- its all in my head -- but that doesn't make it any less real.

Yes, I've tried the pills like Lactase. I does not seem to help.

I've learned that aged cheese looses lactose, and I've had some luck with this. (I've got some seven year old cheddar in the fridge right now.)

I've also learned that the bacteria in yoghurt kills off lactose and I've had some success with this.

I'm just wondering how other foodies deal with this. I walk past famous Chicago pizzarias every day with a literal tear in my eye.

It doesn't just affect foods with dairy, it can ruin a whole meal. A hamburger doesn't taste right without cheese along with many other sandwiches. Many dishes fail without sour cream. Entire quisines are near off limits -- I have a hard time at a Mexican restaurant.

I can't eat many of the woderful, syrup drenched breakfast dishes. A half stack of buttermilk pancakes screams for a cold glass of homo. My daughter, this second, is joyfully dunking an Oreo, flagrantly in my view!

I taught my self to like soy milk a little at a time. I started with just a little in my cereal and progressed to where I could drink it from a glass without a grimace. I celebrated the next morning by pulling out the waffle iron. I had a wonderul breakfast and the pure maple syrup and soy milk chaser satisfied. Turned out I'm alllergic to soy also. My entire body broke out in hives and my wind pipe started to constrict. I haven't tried soy again.

Thanks for listening to me whine. I'm sure I could have much worse problems. I just wonder how others deal with it. It's even socially awckward. I need to constantly remind people that I can't eat what they are offering me -- even my own wife can't seem to remember. I know many others suffer from the same but no one in my circle of friends and family shares this condition. Please share your experiences.


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  1. A thought, perhaps you're not actualy lactose intolerant - you could have an issue with the type of fat in cow milk. Give goat milk a try. (Note: Goat milk often can be used by lactose-intolerant people as well.)

    I find it a bit sweeter to drink straight, but if you can digest it, it's a great option for all those milk-based recipes, and there are some wonderful goat-milk cheeses out there too.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ab

      Perhaps the OP has a milk allergy, a reaction to a protein, rather than a lactase or enzyme deficiency.

      If goat's milk causes no problem, it's because the casein (milk protein) in goat milk is much smaller than the casein in cow's milk and so easier to digest. Most hard cheese has no lactose, only young soft cheeses do, and it's a small amount. Most ice cream, also, has no lactose; lactose is a problem in manufacturing (it causes a gritty texture) and manufacturers get rid of it because of that.

      Perhaps a test for milk allergy is in order.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        Interesting. Does that mean that the gas attacks my husband gets in the middle of the night after eating ice cream has a different source? Maybe it's the sugar?
        I hate him when he has ice cream after dinner, it doesn't happen after sorbet, which he rarely eats because he was raised German Lutheran, and they're ice-creamophiles genetically. Sorbet doesn't have the same comfort factor. ;-)

        1. re: maria lorraine

          I am curious about your claim that lactose is removed from ice cream. Can you cite any references on this, or which manufacturers do this? Back when i was still prone to eating Ben & Jerry's by the pint, it always caused me gas. I do much better with cultured dairy such as yogurt and cheese and avoid ice cream except in occasional small quantities.

          Francisco Migoya's Frozen Desserts book ( a pretty technical CIA ice cream book) says that if lactose is used in EXCESS it will cause the final product to feel sandy but does not suggest that lactose naturally occurring in milk is excessive. Also: nonfat dry milk...is composed of 50% lactose...(NFDM's) contribution to the final product includes mouth feel, body, and the ability to trap air. It helps form the structure of ice creams and sorbets without having to add more fat, and can improve the final products' quality.

          So according to Migoya, the amount of lactose naturally found in milk plus a little extra = good, some amount more than a little extra = sandy.

          1. re: babette feasts

            well don't i wish that were true... no lactose in ice cream?! we lactose intolerant folk wouldn't be complaining so much :)

            1. re: nothingswrong

              There are some lactose free ice creams available in every grocery store where I live in Halifax, NS. The brand depends on the store.

      2. I am both gluten and lactose intolerant. I feel your pain- but.. The wonderful thing about this board is that we learn about so many food choices. Instead of looking at all of the things that I can't have, I think about all of the new things that I get to discover. It makes me a very creative cook- and eater. I refuse to use substitutes like rice crust pizza with soy cheese cause they taste NASTY. Instead I do amazing things with a variety of flours and other ingredients. Enjoy!

        1. A good friend has many intolerances as well... lactose and wheat. As suggested above, many cow intolerant people have no issue with goat cheese. I don't know what your take on soy cheeses are, but most restaurants are happy to accommodate you if you bring your own cheese, i.e. at a pizza parlor. I know it's not the same, but at least you'd get the rest of the pizza in their style. You might also experiment (don't grimace too hard) with the vegan attempts to construct cheeses out of nut products. I know a number of vegan restaurants make a faux cheese. You might Google search vegan cheese recipes. I've linked a site that has non-dairy cheeses.

          Best of luck to you... I can't even imagine how horrible it must be, but I hope you find some good alternatives.

          Link: http://www.aboverubies.org/health/che...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Emme

            The OP mentioned that he's allergic to soy as well.

          2. I too am hopelessly lactose intolerant. Fortunately for me the Lactaid Ultra pills work fine... and believe me, I don't shy away from cream sauces, pizza, ice cream, and above all cheese... all kinds of cheese. The first course for dinner at home last night for some pals was Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce w/Crab, and dessert was AMAZING fresh strawberries in homemade whipped cream and chocolate sauce, appetizers were fried artichoke fritters stuffed with goat cheese and a parmesan crust... entree was marinated tri tip w/jasmine rice snd fresh white corn on the cob... good wine too (Whitehall Lane Reserve, 2001). OK, I'm now officially off track.

            Back on track. But there was a reason for going off track... I wanted to let you know what I ate and what I did to counteract it in a real world scenario, which is not atypical of a most meals for me and my wife...

            I took 2 Lactaid Ultra before eating the appetizer, and one as I was finishing the sauce for the pasta (had to taste) and another 2 before tasting/eating dessert. It seems like a lot of pills, but my physician assures me that it is nearly impossible for me to "OD" on this stuff, as it is basically a naturally occurring enzyme that my body no longer produces enough of, and I have been taking Lactaid for years, with no ill effects at all.

            One thing I have noticed is that if I don't take 2 pills, the lactose intolerance does kick in, so maybe you weren't taking a high enough dose? As always, I would recommend that you definitely check with your physician to make sure this is OK for you before doing anything.

            Additionally, have you considered that it isn't lactose intolerance that you may have? A close friend of ours has IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and his symptoms often very closely mimic lactose intolerance. He finds that when he eats certain foods in certain order/combinations his symptoms are MUCH less severe to nonexistent. One thing I know he does is eat "white starches" first and that alleviates quite a bit of the problem, along with several other things. Again, definitely check with your physician and that may get you some answers.

            Hope this helped and hope you find a way to enjoy the chow!

            1. With respect, and since you seem to be open and scientific, I think you have more research to do.

              Lactose is one element of cow's milk, and is a frequent cause of indigestion. Lactase pills, or the treated milk products, solve that problem. Period.

              If you still have problems then something else is going on. Unfortunately I don't know what.

              You are accurate in that your body may react to the same set of circumstances in various ways on any two days.

              All I really want to convey is that I don't think you have an accurate diagnosis. The symptoms are certainly real, but if Lactaid didn't work, I think that something other than Lactose-intolerace is your problem.

              1 Reply
              1. re: SteveT

                I agree with this 100%. Have you actually been tested for lactose intolerance?

                I also don't mean to downplay your symptoms, but as someone who thought she had lactose intolerance but ended up actually having ulcerative colitis, I always tell people to get checked out by a gastro doctor.

              2. I'm in the same boat. Lactaid doesn't work for me either. And it upsets my stomach. Maybe I'll try it again sometime, but I have basically decided to deal with the hand I've been dealt, since it really encourages me to eat a more healthy diet.

                When first figured out that I was lactose intolerant, I was in really bad shape. Horrible abdominal pains, unpleasant intestinal disturbances, etc. It took me a couple of years of semi-constant vigilance to get to the point where I wouldn't double over in pain after eating a meal with dairy. I was so happy to feel good that it didn't bother me that much to abstain. My theory is that when you overdo it--as we chowhounds often do--your body reacts more quickly and savagely to items that you are sensitive to.

                Right now, I'm in a sort of "remission" in that I can eat cheese for the first time in years without many problems. I have no idea why. Actually now that I think of it, it could be that I'm eating mostly sheep's milk cheese (I'm living in Spain now).

                There are certain combinations that still will always produce the worst effects: coffee and milk, cheese and tomatoes, seafood and butter, fried food and anything dairy. I just avoid these most of the time.

                I try to remind myself that most of the human beings in the world have this "problem." It's really a sign of adulthood, isn't it?

                1. What I've read about how cheese is made indicates that cheese does not in fact have lactose. Cheese is made by separating the curds from the whey, and the lactose is in the whey, which is drained off.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: vidia

                    This is somewhat true. Googling, I found a page that talks about lactose in cheese (see link below). Some cheeses do contain almost zero lactose, but some contain quite a bit, such as the softer cheeses like cream cheese. Also, ricotta (because it has whey) has as much lactose as milk.

                    The link I found mentions a cheese made especially to be 100% lactose-free (it's not just cheese with lactaid in it). It comes in Mozzarella, Jalapeno Jack and Cheddar:

                    I'd say try eating lactose-free cheese or very aged cheese, and if you have a problem, it might not be just lactose that's the culprit, but something else.

                    BTW I'm starting the path done lactose-intolerance, so I've been doing the trial&error method of finding out my level of tolerance. Thankfully, lactaid and lactaid-type pills do help for me.

                    Link: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepa...

                    1. re: Alice Ringer

                      Many American cheesemakers add casein back into cheese (it's usually listed in the ingredients). This causes there to be lactose in the cheese. Same goes for yogurt.

                      1. re: butterfly

                        Most varieties of Cabot cheese (from Vermont) say, on the package, "Contains 0 g of lactose per serving." So presumably, Cabot does not add the casein back into their cheeses. Also, it's especially delicious cheese.

                        Their web site says: "Q: Can those with lactose intolerance enjoy Cabot cheeses?
                        A: All Cabot cheeses contain zero (0) grams of lactose. Eating any aged cheese should not affect those with lactose intolerance, regardless of how much is eaten, because lactose - the major carbohydrate of cheese - totally disappears within 3 to 4 weeks after the cheese is made."

                        Here in New Jersey, I can usually find at least a couple of varieties of Cabot in the local supermarkets (but not some of the best ones, such as their habanero cheddar).

                        I hate being lactose intolerant. For me, it's a result of having ulcerative colitis. Chocolate (even dark chocolate with no lactose) usually also causes me terrible problems, I guess because of the colitis, but often I eat it anyway because I'm a chocolate addict. As for milk, I've discovered I like rice milk and I can tolerate soy milk.

                        I had no idea that overdosing on the Lactaid Ultra pills can help with milk products. I'll have to try that. Thanks folks.


                        Link: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddisea...

                  2. Ah, my sympathies, my lactose-intolerant brother in arms. I too suffer from this chowhound injustice, but I dont have soy issues (thankfully). I am sorry you have to go thru this, esp. b/c rice milk is 10x worse than soy (which has grown on me actually!)

                    I have found that the lower the butterfat, the fewer problems I have. Lowfat frozed yogurt fares better gastrointestinally than the hi-fat premium stuff, though it still upsets my stomach, just not as much.

                    I can tolerate one slice of plain pizza, but start adding sausage or pepperoni to that, or a second slice, and I get a pain! (b/c as you likely know, processed meats, and anything that has "natural flavors" is bound to have lactose in some form, even if no dairy is present!)

                    I use the Lactaid pills, double dosing, when needed, b/c too little does nothing! There is also a pill called Dairy Care, that you take every day like a vitamin that is said to "seed" your stomach with the correct lactose-fighting enzymes. You start taking it 2x a day, then go down to 1x a day...my problem was I would always FORGET to take it and end up sick anyway! But they have a website if you want to look into it more http://www.dairycare.com/

                    Another tip - try GOOD soycheese for those cravings...Comesin Smoked Gouda, Cheddar, Pepper Jack and Mozzerella. it tastes rather mild, but the texture is great for cheeseburgers, mexican food, lasagna, etc. Dont bother with the pre-processed soy "singles" you get in the grocery, but try to source some from a real cheese shop (we are lucky to have E Village Cheese here in NYC) it is really cheap ($2.00/LB) and keeps a long time. I also recommend tofu cream cheese - put your own scallions or veggies in it.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: folklaur70

                      OK, some typo's I missed...the soy cheese is $2.99 a lb, and I believe the source someone else provided might be what I was referring to - the flavors sound about right

                      1. re: folklaur70

                        I thought the OP has a soy allergy, then I dont think that soy cheese or tofu (a soy product) would be a good choice - even a "good" soy cheese. Like other posters, I wonder what the issue really is, and how much allergy testing the OP has had done. It may be other chemicals, or who knows what. I have a minor milk allergy, but am not lactose intolerant, excess use of milk products just makes me break out, but my digestive system has no problems with it. Take the time to find out what is really going on if you have not already done so.

                    2. I also feel your pain, although not from dairy. I've got an IBS/GERD combination, which forces me to avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, acidic foods, spicy foods, processed foods and a few other strange things like grapes and cherries. Yes, it was depressing at first, and socially awkward, as you mentioned . . ."thanks, but I can't eat after 7 p.m."

                      But as another poster pointed out, it becomes a great opportunity to get creative with what you CAN eat, as well as explore foods you might have ignored in the past. I used to save asparagus for "special" dishes. . . well, now I eat it almost every day, because I can! Have you tried Rice Dream as a milk substitute? I think it tastes better than soy milk.

                      Your doctor might be able to help you (my dietary changes plus meds have made it so that I can occasionally indulge in the "bad" foods - I'm drinking a glass of wine at this very moment); however, I also suggest talking to a registered dietician. Doctors are generally not very well trained in nutrition, but a dietician will be able to help you navigate your new food world.

                      I have also had great success with acupuncture. Just another suggestion. Hang in there; you'll figure it all out!

                      1. If you don't mind cooking you can easily make a lactose free cheesecake (italian style) by ordering ricotta made from water buffalo milk (lactose free) from Bubalus bubalis in gardena, CA. I don't know if they still have a website. But you can call them (area code 562 i think) and order over the phone. They can also confirm if the buffalo ricotta is lactose-free.

                        1. I just attended a food event focusing on the value of certain traditional diets. There were physicians there and many food experts. They were discussing lactose intolerance. According to these people, the substance in milk that allows humans to digest lactose is present naturally, but is destroyed in pasteurization. So, lactose intolerant people should drink raw milk. There are also many wonderful raw cheeses out there, (they have to be aged a certain amount of time) though raw milk is more difficult to find. You might find the link below helpful. The website this link lives in is quite fascinating. It will ring very true to some people and others will disagree, but it is definitely interesting.
                          Good luck. I can't imagine not being able to eat dairy. I've also heard goat's milk is more tolerable for some individuals.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: veebee

                            I'm not lactose intolerant, but my mother is a celiac (wheat and dairy allergy specific to the intestine). I realize this is not your specific problem, but, for my mom, raw milk or raw milk cheeses are NO problem for her. Raw milk is almost a different substance than pasteurized milk -- in taste, but also the enzyme content. If you can possible try it (there are only a few states where you can buy it in grocery stores -- Cailfornia is one of them -- other than that try the web for dairies in your area that will sell raw milk to you) it may be the answer for you.

                            I love raw milk myself -- it has incredible flavor. I got hooked on it on a farm in Ireland, but I'm able to buy organic raw milk here in the store in California. And of course there is raw milk butter and cheese to be found, more and more.

                            They say pregnant women and people with weak immune systems are in danger from raw milk, but I don't think that it poses any more risk than raw eggs or rare meat. Check your producer, and if it's fresh and kept cold you should have no problem. I personally have never had any difficulty from raw milk. The enzymes and natural "friendly" bacteria in the milk are not killed by the pasteurization, so I think (and have been told, though I have no scientific proof) that, at least if the milk is fresh that the natural properties of it actually combat spoilage.

                            I don't mean to get on a soapbox about it -- but if you're not afraid of it (and you shouldn't be any more afraid of raw milk than raw eggs, in my opinion), and you can get some in your area, give it a try!

                            Also, as noted above goat's milk cheese may help, and a lactose-intolerant friend of mine swears by sheep's milk cheeses like manchego.

                          2. Thanks and love to all who responded. I agree with everyone of you and wish I could respond in kind. I've seen much worse advice peddled out on "lactose free" sites. This is one of the many reasons I'm a Chowhound.

                            1. s

                              My daughter is dairy and egg allergic, which of course, is different than being lactose intolerant although she must avoid the same things as you. Your hives have told you loud and clear you have a soy allergy so I agree with the poster who suggested rice dream. I have never met a person with a rice allergy. It basically tastes like skim milk that's been sweetened somewhat like the milk left at the bottom of the cereal bowl. We make our own pizzas here, but soy cheese is not a problem for my daughter. I do know that there are pizzarias who will make a dairy free pizza. You can order whatever toppings you like sans the cheese. One suggestion I have for you is if you start adding new foods to your diet go slowly and start with small amounts so you don't end up with those fire poker hives again. Another poster here said to concentrate on what is is you CAN eat. I cannot tell you how much that is the true key to happiness here. I remember leaving the allergist's office with a 13 month old baby in my arms and a huge list of foods she could NOT eat. You know how picky babies are, they won't eat fake anything if they don't like it for itself. Once we settled on foods that she likes, we were home free. She's 13 YEARS now and would agree with you that this is a PIA sometimes, but mostly she is A-OK. Fortunately, there are more and more items available even at the regular grocery store these days than they even had back then to choose from. Most sorbet is dairy-free and that takes care of the ice cream problem at our house. We make smoothies that are dairy free, too and many stores don't add dairy to theirs. Something you might also consider is a calcium source. She favors the cranberry juice with calcium after getting sick of drinking so much oj with calcium as a kid. At Mexican restaurants, my daughter orders burritos or tacos and just tells them to hold the cheese and sour cream. Salsa and some good guacamole help.

                              1. As one of the previous posters said, I have found that mega-dosing on the Lactaid Ultras can give relief. I mean, three Ultras for a slice of NY pizza, which I will not do without when I'm visiting.

                                And on that note, I choose my indulgences, too. There's always a chance even three won't work, so I don't eat mediocre ice cream or pizza or cream sauces. It has evolved into a kind of philosophy. As a Kosher friend said: if you're going to eat bacon, eat enough so you drool.

                                Another miracle of the human body: while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, I wan't intolerant at all! Sorry that is not an option for you, Ramon, unless you're posing as a man. Anybody else have this happen to them?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: heidipie

                                  It happened to me with both of my pregnancies!

                                2. yr right. it sucks. i discovered lactaid, milk with the enzyme removed. it tastes like normal milk, but a bit sweeter. i just discovered that natural smoked gouda is lactose free because its smoked. i tried to research it, but i can't seem to find anything on how that is. "the good slice" is not bad. i don't understand how some soy cheeses say they are lactose free, but then list lactose as the ingredient. beats me. annoying. gelatos are great, they have ones made with soy now. the "so good" brand of soy ice cream is pretty good. i just make my own pizza. and i don't eat deli meats anymore. i have brown rice instead of bread. alot of breads have milk in them. i try not to have pastries. most are made with butter. there's this book called "breaking the viscious cycle" it has a bunch of recipies is it. u can get it from the library. it was good to chat.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mistur.e

                                    I have found that I can tolerate skim milk from a quality dairy that does not use any hormones in the milk. I am in the Chicago area and live near an Oberweis dairy. The skim milk is REAL and does not have that horrible bluish cast a lot of skim milk has. Again, I am hit or miss on what will kick off the intolerance, but I wanted to pass along this anecdoctal evidence that a few people have found helpful.

                                  2. I struggled with lactose intolerance and IBS for years...The pills worked sometimes, and other times..NOT....Then I decided for weight loss that I wanted to start eating low carb...After I had been on the diet for awhile, I began to notice that both of these disorders went completely away...Have never research it, but figure that it has to have something to do with it...Now I can eat cheese and occasionally a small amount of ice cream without any problems...I still do not drink milk or get milkshakes ( the latter is too high in carbs anyway)...but I can eat cottage cheese, broccoli, and a lot of other things that I was unable to for years...

                                    1. My fiance can no longer have any cow-based dairy. We use Vanilla Rice Milk (tastes most like regular milk) and lots of goat and soy cheeses. She can't live without cheese so we have scoured our co-op for every variety we can find. Sheep cheese should be good, too. In place of ice cream she has sorbet (since she likes the fruity flavors better than ice cream flavors, that has worked well). There is vegan butter as well with I haven't noticed a difference when I have cooked with it (I haven't baked with it yet), though that might be soy.

                                      It is hard, for sure, but try the goat and sheep varieties. That should improve your burgers at the very least!

                                      1. For use in cereal, and as a cold refreshing accompaniment to a sweet desert, I find that RIce Dream is a pretty good substitute for milk. It's at least as good as skim.

                                        I am ok with moderate amounts of strong, mature cheeses.

                                        While Americanized Mexican dishes are often covered in a blanket of melted yellow goo, it is much easier to avoid cheese in the better taquerias that I like. While chile rellenos may still have a cheese filling (though there are meat fillings), most plates only have a light sprinkling of cheese on the refries, and none if I choose whole beans.


                                        1. Have you considered that it may not be lactose intolerance, but rather a sensitivity/allergy to the proteins (rather than the sugars, which is what lactose is) in dairy?

                                          This has ended up being what my issue is -- the proteins -- and the way to handle it is to denature those proteins. Yogurt, for example, is great, because the bateria basically pre-digest the proteins for me (sounds gross, but that's the way it works). Butter is ok because of the processing. Same with American cheese (not that I'd recommend velveeta or the like, but sometimes I do get a jones for boxed mac and cheese). Cheesecake is ok, as are most other baked goods that have dairy as an ingredient, because the cooking process breaks down the proteins. Creme brulee/flan/pots de creme is ok for the same reason (thank god).

                                          I miss regular cheese, but I've found that I can eat yogurt cheese (in slices, or blocks) to my heart's content (Trader Joes, WF, and other places carry this -- often grocery stores have some in their kosher cold case). Frozen yogurt is ok, as is frozen custard, but ice cream is a no-go. Cream and (non yogurt) cheese are completely out for me.

                                          I've found that yogurt satisfies a lot of my cravings, as does cottage cheese (but only the brands that add acidophilus, like Organic Valley). Trader Joes sells a variety of thick yogurts that can act like spreads and thickeners. You can drain your own yogurt as well (to save $) and make it into a thick, spreadable cheese. This is great on sandwiches, etc., even pizza. Yogurt also makes a perfectly suitable sub for sour cream in almost every instance.

                                          In terms of the social aspect of this, I just am very clear when I go out to eat. I always tell the servers that I can't have cream or cheese, but butter is ok (this seems to make the kitchen happy, as most "no dairy" orders that come back there can't get the butter treatment). I rarely have to send plates back, but when I do, I'm gracious about it -- not angry. It's a pain sometimes, but I've never had annoyed treatment from a restaurant or dining companions. I think it's just about being clear, concise, pleasant, and consistent. You may be encountering resistance because you yourself seem to want to try things that are technically making you sick. Our friends now know what not to serve me when I go to dinner at their house, but whenever we get an invitation from a new friend or colleague, I make a point to very kindly outline my dietary restrictions *in advance*, and offer to bring something suitable if it's a bother for the host to accomodate me. I've had good luck with this approach, but it does require a little vigilance, and a willingness to have that conversation several times.

                                          Good luck! It gets better, really. There are still things I miss to be sure, but 12 years into this condition, I have become a lot more zen about it.

                                          EDITED TO ADD: duh, I just saw that this was first posted in 2004. Ok, so probably this is no longer useful to Ramon, but maybe it'll be useful to someone else. Sorry for the tome, above.

                                          1. Another voice here advocating that anyone in this sitch (can't tolerate certain foods, here one day gone the next intolerances, certain food combos are bad) get tested for or at least read up on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

                                            Also, can't help but throw this in: I once read a book about lactose intolerance (before my IBS was diagnosed) and learned that in fact, the ability to tolerate lactose is a mutation that evolved late in human history and only fixed in certain populations that were dependent on cows' milk as a source of nutrition. Namely, western Europe and (independently) three places in Africa. So unless your ancestors are derived from those few parts of the world, you have a high probably of being lactose intolerant. Its incidence is much higher, for example, in Native Americans and Asians than in people of western European descent.

                                            1. So you can't even drink Lactaid lactose-free milk without suffering? You poor thing! It sounds like you might have an actual milk allergy rather than lactose-intolerance. I use the lactose-free milk for all my cooking, because even a few mouthfuls of regular milk makes me suffer! And if I'm having cheese or sour cream or icecream, I'll take a lactaid tablet with it and it usually does the trick.
                                              One thing I found out the hard way was that the 'take one of these tablets in the morning and they'll last all day' varieties DO NOT WORK! It has to be the real deal, taken at the same time as my first bite of dairy product, or I might as well not take it at all.

                                              1. I feel your pain. Well, not literally. My problem with milk products is less of a digestion one (although I do have some of those side effects) but more of an external one. I find that I break out when I drink milk, eat ice cream or large portions of cheese. It's quite disappointing, but I've found a few options to satisfy my yearnings. For example, my favorite homemade cheese-less pizza has a pesto sauce with sliced potato and roasted garlic. Sounds simple, but it is really delicious. Sometimes I also add spinach, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes. Of course, you'd make your own pesto and you could leave out the parmesan if that gives you problems. Also, I've learned to love sorbet. Many sorbets are just as satisfying as ice cream or gelato. Two of my favorite flavors are black currant and mango.

                                                1. thanks to whomever resurrected this thread. i've been "living" with lactose intolerance for about three years now and survived by eliminating almost all dairy from my diet. lactaid pills in the recommended dosages may as well have been placebos. i, too, have gazed at a pizza with a mix of love (taste) and hate (consequences of consumption).

                                                  now i am inspired by you folks. please keep these stories coming.

                                                  i'm going to buy lactaid ultra in bulk and pop them like candy, i'm going to get the dairycare, and i'm going to track down raw milk and cheese. i'm not going to miss out on "dairy moments" as the lactaid commercials put it, anymore. a real hound would fight for chow, so that's what i'm going to do.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: artemis

                                                    Last week I made a wonderful, cheesy pizza for my fiance that can't eat dairy with goat mozarella cheese. She was THRILLED! Try it.

                                                    1. re: artemis

                                                      I was just diagnosed as lactose intolerant 3 months ago (3 hours in the kiddie hospital for the test since that's the only place they give it - with no coffee thank you very much!) and have had to make BIG changes in my eating. I don't tolerate Soy well at all nor the Lactaid milk that is available (and the Lactaid pills don't always work for me). I found rice milk & almond milk which are both pretty good. Only had on cereal so far and it there's no change in taste for me. I' also found rice cheese at the health food store. Had a grilled cheese & a pizza recently (use mediterranean flat bread - makes a nice pizza crust). The rice cheese comes in american, swiss, cheddar & mozzarella flavor. Melts & browns nicely for pizza. Is it as good as "real" mozzarella? No. But it's acceptable and hey, pizza is worth it. Just make sure to check labels if you're buying prepared food. You'd be surprised what contains milk products - watch for whey. Good eating.

                                                    2. Ramon, I used to work with the Lactaid business, and if it is lactose intolerance, the pills should help. The big problem, is that people tend to take it AFTER vs. Before they have a problem (they do no good taken after), and per many posters, multiple pills are necessary because of lactose levels of various foods. The pills do wear off, so you may need to take several during a meal. Also, working on the business, I was surprised to hear how Lactose is in things I never would have suspected, too -- like Hot dogs. I am lactose intolerant myself, although less sensitive than others. There are some snake oil medicines out there, be careful.

                                                      1. When my hubby needed to go on a special diet during some medical treatment, the doc prescribed a non-dairy and basically IBS diet. (cottage cheese and cream cheese were deemed OK)

                                                        Lactaid milk was suggested as a sub, as well as Acidophilus Milk. Neither of us cared for the Lactaid, but the Acidophilus produced by Knudsen here in California is tasty and tolerated well by both of us. Acidophilus is the active bacteria culture in yogurt.

                                                        While neither of us is violently lactose-intolerant, we have had our share of gas, etc. which has been greatly diminished since drinking the Acidophilus. We now drink it exclusively. We also take acidophilus caplets daily.

                                                        here's a link to information and help on understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome for those who have "troubles" but aren't necessarily LI. It helped me understand the why's and wherefores of hubby's special diet a bit more thoroughly.


                                                        1. I feel your pain... I have a few suggestions...

                                                          Take to heart the suggestions others have provided regarding sheep and goat's milk cheeses. I can't eat cow's milk cheese (boo), but have settled for goat's milk cheeses instead. It has a totally different flavor, but can be used to substitute cow's milk cheese in some recipes.

                                                          Secondly, Lactaid pills don't do the job for me (I do indulge occasionally and pay for it!). So I'd suggest natural enzyme digestion pills. You can find these at Whole Foods in the supplements section. They also have natural papaya enzyme digestion pills, which help break down foods that are harder to digest. Both these options are all natural and have worked wonders for me. Take 2 pills right before you eat.

                                                          And lastly, I have just discovered the best yogurt alternative in the world! I love this stuff better that regular milk yogurt! It's soy yogurt! And not just any brand because some of them are nasty. Try the Silk brand of soy yogurt. You'll love it! Great creamy texture, great subtle flavor, affordable (you can find these at Whole Foods for less than a buck), and you get those active cultures that are good for someone who has lactose intolerance!

                                                          There is life with "cow's milk" intolerance... Just takes a little work and shopping at stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and other alternative stores with a better selection than classic chain grocery stores. And "cheating" only from time to time, isn't a sin :).

                                                          1. Why does everyone keep telling poor Ramon to try soy this or soy that when the original post clearly states that there is a soy allergy here as well. That leaves out soy milk, tofu, soy protien, a ton of stuff.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              Because Chowhound is about sharing information that will help the community at large, not just the original poster. Since the OP is from 3 years ago, chances are Ramon has moved on, but there are other people without soy allergies who are reading/posting and will benefit from the suggestions.

                                                            2. Hey mj. I totally feel for you!! I was exactly like you -- pretty piised off thinking that I would have to live the rest of my life without eating all of the yummy food I love -- how depressing :( And Lactaid pills give me severe cramping (too painful to even consider!) But, then someone told me about something called ACIDOPHILUS -- it's live cultures I believe and you can get it in any health store. I have been taking one capsule a day for the last 3 weeks and I have started experimenting (eating a little cheese and even ice cream ) and nothing!! There has been absolutely no side effects. I am so excited that I just had to spread the word :)

                                                              As I understand it, when you take antibiotics, they kills off the flora that make the enzyme to break down lactose, so when I gave birth to my first child, I became lactose intolerant. Maybe it happened to you after becomming very sick and having to take meds. Well, the good news is, you can replace those flora by taking acidophilus. I'm told I just have to take one bottle (one a day for 30 days) and teh flora are replaced and back to making those enzymes again! yippe!! So far, so good! You should give it a try :)

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Bum3le3ee

                                                                Only one person has mentioned almond milk, which I use on cereal and find quite delicious. A friend brought me "Coconut Bliss" ice cream, made from coconut milk. The vanilla kind has a slight hint of coconut but otherwise tastes like vanilla ice cream. I understand there are several other flavors. So now I can have pie ala mode!

                                                                1. re: PAO

                                                                  definitely second this!

                                                                  i became quite suddenly lactose intolerant at age 13 (discovered at dairy queen--HUGE nightmare) and did the whole Lactaid pill thing for a few years before deciding it wasn't worth the gamble. they really just don't seem to work for some people (even when taken in large doses throughout a milky meal).

                                                                  so i learned not to eat ice cream at all. i personally HATE soy anything--leaves a weird film in my mouth, aftertaste, etc. also i now have IBS and the soy is best avoided. and let's be honest--there are some GREAT sorbets out there but they will never satisfy an ice cream craving. they satisfy a cold fruity craving.

                                                                  then i took a gamble and bought a box of coconut bliss ice cream bars. i was just blown away. just like my mom's haagen daazs bars i used to sneak out of the freezer when i was a kid. okay, maybe not quite as good, but i literally had to sit down the first time i ate one. i couldn't believe it was lactose-free. i hadn't tasted anything like that in years and years.

                                                                  i'm now addicted to all of the coconut bliss products. i personally can't taste the coconut, and have shared them with friends who say the same. and on a side note--many of these products are totally gluten free. i've turned a few girl friends onto them too, who've had similar reactions to mine--not tasting anything so deliciously creamy since going GF.

                                                                  1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                    I've heard good things about Coconut Bliss products. I don't think they are carried in my local conventional supermarkets. I guess Whole Foods or the like is the best place to search them out?

                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                      Actually Walmart, Target, Tom Thumb aka Safeway and whole foods all carry them.

                                                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                                                        i've just seen them at Whole Foods. i've noticed the different stores in LA carry different products though... i have to say i'm very partial to the chocolate and almond covered vanilla bars. they are so freaking good! i drive the extra distance to the WF that carries them and stock up. hope you are able to try them!

                                                                2. All though it's hard to cook with anything other than Soy milk as a sub for cows milk. Drinking is yet another story Almond, Coconut, Rice milks are all great. In fact I find the general taste of any to be better than cows.

                                                                  Now that being said the only way to use rice milk for cooking is to add a plant based emulsifier. Soy has already has emulsifiers built in so it is basically a straight replacement for cows milk in almost all recipes. Rice works if you use a plant based product or use enough fat and flour.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: irodguy

                                                                    Thanks for the info. My step-father has to limit his dairy consumption due to kidney disease. Soy and almond milk are also off the table. I finally convinced him to try rice milk while I was visiting at Christmas, and he loves it. I've used soy milk for baking, but haven't tried anything with rice milk. Will have to do some research now...

                                                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                                                      rice milk can be used in baking but isn't as thick as soy or almond. someone stated earlier in the thread that rice milk is similar to skim milk in terms of thickness/creaminess. so i wouldn't expect it to be satisfying in a dessert that's supposed to be rich or creamy (pudding, cheesecake, etc.). but i've used it with success in batters for cakes and pancakes.

                                                                  2. I used to have worse stomach (GI) problems than anyone I knew. I had a test for LI and an upper GI which were both inconclusive ages ago. I tried Lact-Aid/Beano, prescription meds, you name it, nothing helped, and I resigned myself to living with it. Then, without intention, my life changed 4 years ago, after reading T. Colin Campbell's "The China Study" and giving up all animal products, and eating high-fiber, plant-based foods. I know it's extreme, especially for someone who loves cheeses, yogurt, etc (I certainly did)., but if it's as bad a problem as you say for you, you should at least give it a try for 30 days and see how you feel!

                                                                    1. MJ,
                                                                      I've been lactose intolerant since I was very young. It runs in my family on my mother's side so I knew what it was early on. My intolerance had gradually gotten worse to the point that I couldn't drink any milk without feeling sick to my stomach, not even a little in my coffee. It didn't make me double over, but it was very uncomfortable for several hours after consumption no matter what I did. Pills didn't help.

                                                                      About a a year and a half ago, I started buying milk from a raw dairy. I couldn't help but try a little though I mostly bought it for my son and husband. I knew it would only be a matter of minutes before the stomach ache hit, but to my surprise, the ache never came. I didn't feel sick after drinking it at all. I kept experimenting, drinking a little more each day. A year and a half later, I'm able to drink a large glass with no problems at all. Raw milk is absolutely delicious! I love being able to drink milk again.
                                                                      I culture the cream to make raw butter and buttermilk and drink mostly skim to 1% (what's left without the cream.) I also bought a yogurt maker and make my own yogurt (stupid easy to do!) I haven't had any stomach problems at all. Now, if I do drink a latte from Starbucks, I can tolerate it better. I have read that my body is better able to digest it because I drink raw milk regularly which contains the natural lactase enzyme needed to digest the lactose. I am no scientist, so I don't know the ins and outs of that theory. I do know that raw milk has cured me of my lactose intolerance issues.

                                                                      People will warn against drinking raw milk, but my dairy has the FDA check their milk twice a month. They also do independent testing of their own to ensure the quality of their milk. I encourage you to look into a reputable raw dairy. It has been a godsend for me!

                                                                      1. I feel your pain! I cannot eat gluten, dairy or eggs for all kinds of health reasons. It gets old after awhile.

                                                                        www.dr-cow.com This is supposed to be the best dairy/soy free alternative cheese for people who do not eat dairy.

                                                                        Raw cashews soaked and blended can make some pretty good substitutes for creamy sauces. It is

                                                                        For dairy free pizza check out where the vegans go. http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=... Daiya cheese is soy free.