Maybe your struggle with lactose intolerance defined most of your eating habits for years or perhaps you finally realized your lattes don’t have your stomach’s best interests at heart (the delicious bastards). Whatever the case, as a long-time sufferer of unusual intestinal reactions, I know your pain.
Luckily for you, I’ve dealt with all the embarrassing gurgles and side-clutching spasms in order to save you from yourself. My five years of trial and error need not go in vain.
Are you even lactose-intolerant?
Before you heed any of my sage advice, you should check with your doctor to see if you actually have a milk allergy. I may be intolerant to guys who wear trilby hats, but I’ve never gone into an anaphylactic shock from them brushing against me.
Don’t cut out dairy
Going cold turkey will just make your inevitable moment of weakness incredibly uncomfortable. I went a month without any dairy only to be struck down by a creme brûlée cheesecake. Decadence never hurt so good.
Start out by having small doses of dairy on a daily basis and increase the amounts as you start to notice fading symptoms. Progress will be long and slow, but now, as soon as I enter certain restaurants, servers start slicing up cheesecake.
Grab some chocolate milk
Flavored and whole milk contain more fat which softens the Ronda Rousey-force lactose blow to your stomach. Chocolate milk, in addition to being a time machine to your childhood, can also prevent your other muscles from cramping up after a workout.
You’d think the low-fat or low percentage milk would treat you right, but you’re just getting the same dose of lactose with half the flavor.
Change your cheese habits
Pick up some Brie (unicorn milk aged and curdled by a fairy godmother) and other aged cheeses like Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan. Truth be told, most cheese contains very little lactose, but if this is a sensitive area in your diet, buy sharp/extra sharp Cheddar instead of mild because they age for much longer. The fresher the cheese, the more likely you’ll turn into a hot air balloon.
Quit the cow bias
Sheep and goat’s milk/cheese have comparable lactose levels to cow’s milk, but many people find them much easier to digest. Try them on their own before you add any to sauces or other recipes; they’re much creamier bases.
You can gain tolerance
Not of trilby hats, that’s unforgivable. Nowadays, I can have a gigantic milkshake and as much pizza as I want on a first date without feeling like the Alien is about tear through my abdomen. If you get your body to grow accustomed to lactose, every day doesn’t have to be soy/almond/tofu alternatives (not that there’s anything wrong with those).
Consuming entire bricks/wheels of night cheese a la Liz Lemon is still a forever alone activity, but honestly, it’s worth it.