Learning that you are lactose intolerant can be earth-shattering news for the great majority of us that love dairy products. For many, eliminating dairy from their diet is a very daunting, even depressing task to undertake; it’s a complete change in lifestyle.
Years ago, being lactose intolerant was very similar to having a gluten allergy in that it was very difficult, almost nearly impossible at times, to find alternatives that were safe to eat. But times have changed; There are now products geared toward your intolerance. Here are just three options for you to try out:
While there are many types of milk on the market today that claim to be dairy-free, many of them contain a protein called sodium caseinate, or casein. You may not know what this is, but it is something that as a lactose intolerant person, you should be looking out for. This protein is actually dairy and there are many milk powders that use it as an emulsifier. To truly combat any symptoms from lactose intolerance, you will need to make sure that you are using powdered milk that is safe, such as powdered coconut milk. Additionally, this powdered milk is also soy and gluten-free, if you are trying to avoid those as well. And of course, since it comes from coconut, it is also a safe choice for a vegan diet.
All you need to do to get as great, creamy, and tasty alternative to milk, is to add hot water to the powder. This is convenient, as you can make as much or as little as you want and do not have to worry about it going bad as you would with regular milk.
Sure, all cheese does contain lactose, but not all cheese contains the same amount of lactose. All you have to do is look at the listed sugar under the Nutrition Facts on the label. Lactose is the sugar contained in the cheese, so the less sugar, the less lactose it contains. If it contains zero sugar, this means that per ounce, the cheese has no more than just half a gram of lactose. For most, this very small amount can be tolerated.
However, this of course does not mean that you can still have every cheese. The safest cheeses with the smallest traces of lactose are the aged, natural cheeses like Swiss, parmesan, and cheddar. Next in line would be unripened, fresh cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese, and mozzarella. While these types of cheese only contain less than 5 grams of lactose per ounce, they still may not be suitable for your stomach.
Margarine has been an alternative for butter for over 100 years, and has been touted as a much healthier choice. But for those of us that are lactose intolerant, unfortunately, margarine may not be the right choice. Soybean oil is the main ingredient in margarine, but many brands blend the oil with other oils; and it’s these other oils that may contain small traces of dairy.
So what to do when you desperately need that butter flavor and consistency for your baking or basic sautéing needs? Well, lucky for us, there are quite a few different brands of dairy-free butter on the market today. These products are all plant-based and safe, and better yet, they actually feel and taste more like butter than any really margarine ever could.
Although developing an intolerance to lactose is not the ideal thing to happen, and there is some adjustment to make in your diet in order to be comfortable, the food industry has developed a great deal of flavorful alternatives that make the transition a bit easier. Lactose intolerance might seem like the end of the world as you know it in some respects, but it’s really just the beginning of a new, probably much healthier one.