If you notice that you’ve been experiencing discomfort usually after eating dessert – whether it’s chocolates, ice cream, or any other product that contains milk or other dairy in it, then you may be lactose intolerant. This usually registers as stomach pain, cramping, diarrhea, passing gas, or feeling bloated after your intake. It can be quite disconcerting and sometimes even panic inducing, depending on where you find yourself exhibiting the symptoms, and how extremely they register.
The reason why you are lactose intolerant is because your small intestines are not producing enough lactase, the enzyme that digests the lactose that you ingest. As a result, the lactose gets passed into your colon, where bacteria acts on it instead, giving you the uncomfortable symptoms.
The Solution to Lactose Intolerance
It is unfortunate if you have lactose intolerance, especially if you are a fan of dairy and other milk products, or just love dessert foods in general. But there are ways around it – some solutions may be workable:
1. Absolute Treatment
There are ways you can be strict in going about your lactose intolerance, and eliminating it completely from your life. Here are some of them:
There are medicines you can drink before your dairy or milk intake that can help you lessen your symptoms after you eat your favorite foods. Consult your physician to get a prescription for these.
Remember that not all medicines will be compatible or effective for you. These work differently for different body types, so if you are not sure what its effects on you will be, try it out first at home where the setting is more controlled, just in case its efficacy won’t be as expected.
3. Take out the milk and other dairy from your diet
This may be a bit extreme but many people who suffer from the symptoms of lactose intolerance have actually done this. Just make sure to get the nutrients you get from milk and other dairy products, such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, and protein, from other food that can provide this for you as well such as leafy green vegetables.
4. Lifestyle changes – A More Gradual Approach
There are less extreme ways of still enjoying your milk and dairy intake without medicine, or completely eliminating desserts from your life. Here are some of them:
5. Limit your intake
You can simply lower the amount of dairy that you take in. The more you pay attention to your symptoms, the more you get to gauge which milk or dairy products cause you to react in certain ways. You will also be able to somewhat measure the amount of intake that equals a certain symptom registering in your body. This can be an effective way of adjusting to your body and giving it only what it can take.
Also, not all dairy products are created equal. They have varying amounts of lactose, so you may be more tolerant to some than others.
6. Gradually reintroduce the amount of milk or dairy you ingest with each meal.
You can slowly increase your tolerance by being gradual about the reintroduction process. Perhaps you can start with half a glass of milk for one meal for a week, and then slowly increase that amount as time goes by. The same goes with other dairy products such as ice cream, chocolate products, cheese, etc.
Your body can get slowly used to the lactose and build a tolerance for it. This has worked for some people. Eventually, their tolerance becomes high enough that the uncomfortable symptoms don’t manifest anymore.
7. Combine your intake with other foods
When you take in the food or drink with lactose, your symptoms of intolerance may decrease if other foods are there to cushion it. Your digestive system works on the other foods and tames your intolerance to the dairy or milk.
It would be best to not have the dairy first – eat something else before it so your digestive system is already working on other food before the dairy is consumed. Also, avoid ingesting it as the first food or drink when you wake up, as your stomach will be more sensitive to what breaks the fast from your sleep. Unless, of course, you want to induce a reaction early in the morning, before you go about your other tasks outside the home.
8. Use milk or dairy alternatives
If you are addicted to the taste or the feeling of drinking milk, for example, there are a lot of alternatives available. Camel milk comes pretty close to the taste of cow’s milk, for example, and it contains lactose in a smaller amount, thereby decreasing your risk of intolerance and accompanying symptoms. Apart from that, it also has a lot of nutritional benefits such as increased vitamin C and protein per serving.
There are a lot of other alternatives to cow’s milk that do not induce lactose intolerance symptoms, the most popular of which being coconut milk. However, the taste is not as identical to that of cow’s or camel’s milk.
Other plant-based alternatives include almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk, among others. Check for the availability of these in your area, as well as how your body reacts to them as well.
9. Try probiotics
Probiotics are a type of alternative medicine that could help relieve you of your lactose intolerant symptoms. They help your intestines more easily digest the milk or milk products you take in, taking away the discomfort you usually feel after you eat them. These probiotics can be found in some medicinal supplements that you can easily buy in the supermarket as well.
These are some of the ways you can work around your lactose intolerance. It would be best to go for the less extreme methods first, so as not to completely curtail your enjoyment of your milk and dairy. Also, remember to observe how your body reacts to different products as they could have varied effects on your body.