Not My Normal Anymore (Lactose Intolerance)

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Nzie ~ It's kind of amazing how fast strange things become "normal," atleast for me.  Last winter (12/2008) I finally realised that my "normal" was seriously abnormal.

For atleast a year and a half, maybe more, I felt sick a lot.  Every day or nearly every day, I had bad gas, cramps, shivers, and a real "fun" time in the bathroom and other varied bathroom-related effects.  But I adapt to things quickly, so I just started making adjustments, plan this that way, check for XYZ, etc. 

It was in the back of my mind that this wasn't right, but it took a year and a half to do any research.  I'd been to Africa for 5 weeks with my university and been sick from my (otherwise fantastic!) host family's food every day, so I thought maybe I had a parasite or something worse …

I have to say, I give an A to WebMD's symptom checker.  I think I was afraid it'd be something really really serious because I just felt so awful all the time- maybe that's why I didn't check.  I put in my problems, and one of the possibilities that popped up with lactose intolerance.

I'd heard of it, but never been very aware of what it meant.  The symptoms matched, though, so I tried cutting out dairy for three days, and didn't have ANY of the problems.  Then, following what I read about testing it (remove then reintroduce) I had a wonderfully delicious cheesy vegetable lasagna.

I felt awful– and I bought some lactaid.  But I think I must have it quite severely because I have to take a lot more than other people I know in order to not feel sick– for instance, I treated myself to a not particularly large frappe (milkshake to most of you) complete with 4 lactaid.. and I think it took the edge off but it was bad.

I never liked milk, so that's not an issue for me;  I do however love cheese, butter, ice cream, and sour cream.  At this point, though, I simply don't buy milk, cheese or butter.  I do however enjoy foods with dairy as treats- out around town or a pizza.  I'm in Russia and I love the food here- but dairy is in a lot of things, and I haven't managed to locate rice milk, etc. (I tried switching to soy and broke out after a steady diet of three days, so I can only do soy in small amounts.)

I'm really interested to read the accounts of other people with PCOS on here, too.  I had been prescribed with spironoLACTONE but hadn't been taking it– every time I tried to get back on my meds (and apparently lactose is a carrier in a lot of them) I just felt so much worse and couldn't adjust so I gave up.  Reading the words of other women with this condition, I guess it's no coincidence that I finally had success at Weight Watchers when I started 5 months after I reduced my dairy consumption by quite a lot.

I'm not "dairy-free" at this point, but I think I'm going that way in the near future.  Besides having always disliked milk, I find the entire concept of drinking baby cow food disgusting (the term in my family of milk-dislikers is "sucking udder")– and being LI has given me that extra push against my beloved cheese and butter.  If only so many recipes in my ethnic background didn't require sour cream…

Thankfully, my normal now isn't awful cramping, unpleasant bathroom experiences, etc.  And if butter's in something I don't know about (like that rotisserie chicken I got whose skin had been drenched in it)– I know reliably within 2 hours, and don't make the same mistake twice.  I'm not going back to daily misery.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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