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(Too much?)

Anywho, for those of you who have been reading some of my recipes, you might be wondering why I talk about being lactose intolerant but still eat and cook with dairy-full foods, like cheddar cheese. Well, I thought I might explain.

For those of you unfamiliar, lactose intolerance results from the shortage of the lactase enzyme in the small intestine, which is what helps normal people digest dairy sugar, lactose. Notice I said “shortage.” This means that your body doesn’t produce enough lactase (or, I suppose, possibly none at all), meaning there might be varying degrees to the amount of lactose you can ingest based on the amount of lactase that is, indeed, present. I’m obviously not a scientist or doctor or anything, but I can tell you what I believe to be true based on my own experiences (and what my nutritionist told me). And that is: through trial and error, you can figure out how much lactase you do have to digest lactose, before you start having symptoms of lactose intolerance. For me, that’s somewhere in between 0.13 and 0.57 grams. How do I know this? Because of this handy-dandy chart. I know that I can whip up some whipping cream to top a dairy-free dessert and have no problems. Bleu cheese, however…just, no. That one definitely requires Lactaid pills if I want to eat it…comfortably and without embarassment. And sweetened condensed milk is at the point where I start throwing up, even with 2 Lactaid pills in my system. Whoops.

My point is, lactose intolerance may not mean a life sentenced to no more dairy ever (unless you have an allergy to dairy, in which case, obviously stay away), because you might just have a threshold for lactose you have yet to discover. Which is why I wanted to share this chart with you, from my nutritionist, that I organized by lactose content, and that changed my life, for reals (have you ever had Soy Cheese Slices, or Veggie Shreds? No? Go buy some, tell me how that chalks up to a Sargento Mexican Cheese blend).

Lactose Content

You’ll notice that butter here is listed as containing 0 grams of lactose. I’ve found that other sites list butter as containing at least 0.01 grams per tablespoon, and I’m guessing, as with many of these foods, it might depend on the brand, method of production, and type (like sweet cream or unsalted or salted). My point is, not all of these may be perfectly exact, but it’s close enough to make it a pretty awesome tool for figuring out what you can and can’t eat (which is why I have noooo problem going all Paula Deen with butter).

Another important note, on yogurt. The bacteria present actually aids in digestion, so some people (like myself) may be able to tolerate cultured yogurts (and cultured buttermilk, which I use all the time). And more good bacteria in the tummy is a very good thing.

And another important note (last one, promise), on items not listed here. Lactose is a sugar, so check the sugar content of a dairy item you’re not sure of. Is it zero? Chances are it’s safe to eat, depending on your level of tolerance of course (I believe “0” means less than 0.5 grams per serving). How cool is that!

I hope this helps you in some small way, it was a huge game changer for me. Feel free to ask any questions, or share below what works and doesn’t work for you!