True life: I’m lactose intolerant

Guest blogger, Rebecca Shaw is a dairy enthusiast and blogger at The Cow Chronicler™

I’m lactose intolerant, which feels very, very wrong for a young lady who has spent all 26 years of her life working with dairy cows.

Let’s define what it actually means to be lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not make enough of an enzyme called lactase. Your body needs lactase to break down, or digest, lactose. It is NOT a food allergy – a food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food and something that should be determined by a professional allergist and your doctor. Sometimes food intolerances and allergies get confused, and the difference is important to understand.

Being a lactose intolerant dairy farmer and enthusiast isn’t easy. Milk and ice cream are big no-no’s for me. It also doesn’t help my reputation that I’m not always consuming the dairy foods I’m constantly encouraging others to include in their diets so they get the calcium and overall goodness their bodies need.

So, how do people “like me” get the nutrition they need? A lot of people end up resorting to products like “almond milk” or “soy milk” to replace what they think they can’t get from ACTUAL dairy milk without suffering an upset stomach. However, I don’t consider these products milk, but instead an alternate beverage. And guess what? I want milk. Real dairy milk. Here’s a few reasons why, despite being lactose intolerant.

  • I can still have real dairy foods, as long as they have been made lactose free. Yup, I said it – I still consume dairy. My favorite brands are Lactaid and Fairlife. These brands have created a line of dairy foods with the lactose already broken down in the product. Lactaid also makes a dietary supplement that provide you with the lactase you need to consume other dairy products, without feeling discomfort.
  • The nutrient contents of dairy products are what I’m looking for in my diet. The protein and calcium is higher, and the sugar is lower in dairy foods than alternate beverages I’ve found made from soy, almonds, nuts, etc. For example, there is 13 grams of protein in Fairlife than 1 gram found in leading brands of almond Milk AND 60% less sugar. Read more about it here.
  • I can still eat regular cheese, yogurt and kefir. Cheese (especially aged and hard cheeses) are low in lactose and are easier for me to digest. Yogurt and kefir both contain ‘good for you bacteria’ (which is live, active cultures) that gives your body a little help breaking down the lactose in dairy.

So yes, I am a lactose intolerant dairy farmer. And yes, milkshake dates at the local creamery make me a miserable person. But that doesn’t mean I’ve turned my back on dairy products. I dug and I searched and I found a solution that allows me to still enjoy REAL dairy foods and give my body the nourishment it needs. Because of that, I challenge YOU, fellow lactose intolerant community, to do the same as I did!