How To Gracefully Deal With Dairy Sensitivity and Lactose Intolerance

I’ve known for years that my gastrointestinal system is sensitive to dairy. As someone of direct French and Italian descent, I am genetically predisposed to loving cheese, so I’ve had to learn ways for my gut and dairy to find detente.

There are three main dairy vehicles: milk/cream, butter, and cheese. Then there are various animals that produce these products (cows, sheep, goats, etc.). Not all dairy is created equally. Some people are more sensitive to cow products than sheep or goat. I put myself on a total dairy-free diet for two weeks, and then tried experimenting with types of dairy to see which ones caused the least upset. This will be a personal quest for each and your results will vary. I’ll just share my experiences.

I discovered that cow products were the hardest for me to digest, by a great deal. I also realized that my favorite vehicle for dairy is cheese, so it’s much simpler to substitute milk and butter with non-dairy ingredients and allow myself the occasional indulgence in cheese. It was interesting to discover that European cow milk cheeses seemed easier on me than American. It must be the way they are made, or the feed. It might bear experimentation for you.

Once I knew what dairy I wanted to keep for special occasions, I had to figure out what I’d substitute for all the rest. The best thing to do is find a vegan friend or cookbook. Vegans have a lot of great ways of skirting dairy in delicious ways. Even if you are a confirmed carnivore, it’s easy to add meat into a vegan base recipe and be confident there are no dairy products.

In my quest for dietary balance, I’ve discovered three time-tested rules for dealing with food intolerances.

First Rule of Dietary Sensitivities: It’s easier to add something after the dish is cooked than remove it when it’s baked in there.
For example, it’s simple to make a lasagna with no cheese inside, bake it, then sprinkle as much or as little cheese as desired onto individual pieces. I made a vegan lasagna for a group dinner and had zero complaints because I served it with a bowl of cheese they could add and another bowl of meat sauce. Everyone could control their own portions and were happy to do so.

Second Rule: Find substitutes.
Margarine is an easy substitute for butter. There are many grain and nut milks available in grocery stores so you can remove the milk. The texture of cheese is difficult to mimic, though there are commercial vegan cheeses available. If you are a daily coffee drinker with a latte craving, most kiosks in America and Australia will offer soy milk. Just this afternoon I made buttermilk biscuits by using coconut milk and lemon juice in the recipe. Delicious. Oh… desert? Look for ice cream-like frozen treats made from coconut, rice, soy, nuts, sorbets… it’s an extensive list. If your local grocer doesn’t carry them, ask.

Third Rule: Find the best way to deal with the aftermath of that slice of banana cream pie once it’s eaten.
I make sure to drink a lot of water to flush the system and I try to drink a pot of green tea as soon afterward as possible. Green tea has grease-cutting properties that seem, in me, to help push the lactose through my system faster. I also make sure to do some helpful yoga poses that really push the gas out before it becomes too painful. The most effective I’ve found is called the bellows pose. This is a video of the basic pose. I learned it a little differently. I start lying flat and bring the left knee in first, lie flat, bring the right knee in, lie flat, then bring both knees simultaneously in like the video shows. It really is great for the intestines – and don’t worry if your head doesn’t touch your knees, mine doesn’t and it is still effective. I also have made infusions of ginger and mint to settle the stomach and intestines to excellent result. Natural herbs and essential oils that reduce flatulence are called carminatives. You can brew your own herbal beverage, or you could throw those herbs and spices right into the recipe to help counter any dairy. There are also a variety of commercial digestive aids on the market and in health stores.

There are lots of ways to ameliorate the effects of dairy, some more effective than others. It’s really an individual thing, so experimentation is the key to determining what works best for you. If you are lactose intolerant, it’s best just to avoid dairy completely, yet it’s good to know there are at least some herbs and exercises that can help lessen the aftermath.

How do you deal with food sensitivities? Please share your experiences.

Breathe deeply,
Laugh with abandon,
Love wholly,
Eat well.

MiLady Carol
Dazzling jewelry that reflects sparkling personalities!

10 comments to How To Gracefully Deal With Dairy Sensitivity and Lactose Intolerance

  • We use Lactaid. Works great! It’s in the grocery store near other digestion-related medicines.

  • I’ve never tried Lactaid, though I’ve heard many people rave about it. I’ve become good enough at regulating that any backlash is pretty mild. Then again, my dairy sensitivity is pretty mild. I know people who suffer greatly from the slightest amount.

  • I guess this article is for people with a mild sensitivity to dairy who aren’t going to give themselves major trouble by eating some. Maybe that means it’s unpredictable just how it will affect them. I’m vegan but it’s not because I have any physical problems with eating any animal products. Therefore it’s interesting how I’m able to keep my self-control in a world full of promotions of rich foods. I have only a spiritual incentive. I’ve had my times of doubt when I’ve thought I’d like to eat the animal products again. But I’m still vegan now and it isn’t really a great challenge.

  • It was written with myself (I consider myself moderately dairy sensitive) and my friend (who is completely lactose intolerant) as models. I know there are a lot of people out there who would like to reduce dairy intake because their bodies just can’t handle it as well as once upon a time. The article is geared toward people looking to explore where their greatest sensitivities lie, how to deal with reducing those dairy elements and what to do if too much dairy makes it into the system. The night before I wrote this, I had just shared with a dear, completely lactose intolerant friend, a series of stretches and yoga poses that help me eliminate the results of dairy, both accidental and purposeful. My friend is very careful, yet sometimes he finds himself suffering after eating food in a restaurant. Sometimes, no matter how careful one is, dairy sneaks wends its way through.

    I spent a good year plus of my life as a strict vegan and the better part of the last dozen years eating mostly vegan. It’s my preferred choice. You’ve clearly made a choice that is correct for you, too. Yay for both of us!

    MiLady Carol

  • Great idea this. It is always difficult to thin of varied things to cook especially for a hungry family and some of the ideas here and elsewhere on your site have given me some great ideas so thak you!

  • Thanks, Rosanna! I’m glad I could help.

    MiLady Carol

  • I can’t subscribe to your RSS feed. Can you help?

  • well we do have some lactose intolerance in our family and we just cut out on dairy products. :,”

  • my sister was born with lactose intolerance and she can’t even take more than a glass of milk`*:

  • i was born with lactose intolerance and i can’t eat cheese without having an upset stomach “*~