My troubled history with milk
By Laura Hogg
From the A Dairy Diary Blog Series
I'm not sure that I'm going to get to my usual cooking post this week, so I thought I'd talk to you about another subject that I've been thinking about a lot lately: milk. It's been on my mind, but it certainly hasn't been in my stomach. After many years of experiencing symptoms, I think I can finally say:
Hi, my name is Laura and I'm lactose intolerant.
The early years
Milk and I have always had a troubled history. Don't get me wrong--I loved the stuff, especially if it was served cold with a nice plate of fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. I can remember, when I was little, happily pouring the 2% over my bowl of cereal and slurping down every last drop of white goodness left at the end.
But oh boy, would I pay for it later.
Cramps, bloating, and diarrhea became practically part of my daily life. I didn't know what to do. After all, we can't live without milk! It "does a body good!" Happy, good-looking people with milk mustaches don't lie! "Got milk?" Right? So after the age of 8 or so, I continued to eat my daily bowl of cereal, but poured out the remaining milk when I was done. I stayed away from yogurt, which always made me sick almost instantly. And for a while, that was enough.
In the past few years, I have reintroduced yogurt into my diet with no problems. In fact, Greek yogurt has become a dietary staple for me. But regular milk has been just as bad--if not worse. Even a small bowl of cereal has been enough to send me over the edge.
But that's not so bad, right? For years, I've been able to take comfort in the fact that it is only milk--not other dairy products--that has bothered me. Until...
The tipping point
A couple weeks ago, I went to the local Greek festival, where I split a baklava sundae with my mom. It's just what it sounds like: loads of crumbled baklava over a mountain of vanilla ice cream. I was in heaven.
But once I got home, I was in excruciating pain. The cramps had me doubled over; I felt bloated and weak. It was all I could do to shuffle over to the couch and flop over.
And that's when I decided to face facts: milk and I just simply don't get along.
Where to go from here?
I am hardly alone in my situation. I recently read a statistic that estimated that around 16% of Americans suffer from some degree of lactose intolerance--and I've heard stats that are even higher. (If any of you out there are lactose intolerant or know someone who is, I would love to hear your feedback!)
But alone or not, how can I reconcile this lactose intolerance with a culture that insists milk is absolutely vital? In these next few blog posts, I intend to answer that question.
Spoiler alert: contrary to what the dairy industry may tell you, lactose intolerance is not the end of the world.