Let me start by saying that lactose intolerance is not in the mind. This is the same thing I tell my mom, who at the age of 60, thinks I’m making it up due to “overreading” for which she blames my father. In this post, I’m going to tell you how I went from a milk-obsessed cow to vegan milk convert. We’re also going to talk about symptoms, elimination, tests and tips that can help you manage the same.
The Kid Who Loved Milk
You know when you’re a kid and your mom has to force you to drink a glass of milk? That wasn’t me. As a kid growing up in a country like India where cow milk equals strength and good health, I had 2 glasses of milk till college. It was my saviour even on days when I didn’t have the time to eat breakfast. Back then, I was working 10-12 hours a day at India Today as a trainee producer which later changed to TV news producer. Time went by and I realised why we’re a chai obsessed nation, and I switched from a glass of milk to 2 cups of desi chai (chai tea).
Who Knew The Body Changes So Much When You Turn 30?
A few years ago, I started feeling heavy and sluggish as soon as I’d had a cup of milk. But when I hit 30 and started gaining weight, I noticed the weight on my stomach, I realised I was bloated too. Any time I would have a pizza, ice cream or overdose on cups of cappuccino, I’d get less than pleasing symptoms. Thanks to the internet and working with Ishi Khosla (one of the leading clinical nutritionists in India), I realised it could be lactose intolerance.
What Causes Lactose intolerance?
To put it simply, it usually occurs when our body cannot produce enough lactase, an enzyme required to process lactose. When you think of intolerance, or hear the word intolerance, you think of rashes or breakouts, but a food intolerance could also include diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal pain, and feeling heavy, bloated and sluggish.
Another research suggests that A1 protein found in ordinary milk could be the culprit. The symptoms are the same: bloating, runny stomach, flatulence…in short, not fun.
How do you know if you’re lactose intolerant?
One night, while running between the bathroom and bed, I looked up tests to check this out. Turns out, those are difficult to come by in India. I met a few gastroenterologists who didn’t have the test (a hydrogen peroxide test) or simply suggested elimination. I checked with Ishi Khosla over our chats, and she too said to eliminate milk and see a difference.
Life As A Convert: I am Lactose-Free
I stopped having tea with regular milk, and I switched to lactose-free options from Amul (the biggest Indian milk producer). For all our smoothie bowls, turmeric latte, my husband and I swear by almond milk which is still heavier on the pocket here in India. To be honest, adjusting to the difference in taste when it came to Cappucino runs was a bit taxing, but I knew I would adjust to that rather than run to the restroom or trigger my IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). We also go to cafes and restaurants that are vegan, or offer A2 milk in Delhi.
Other no-nos on my list
Pasta, especially white sauce
Ice Creams (I do take a few bites from my husband who is an ice cream fanatic)
Cakes with frosting
Indian desserts like kulfi, halwas and milk-based mithais
Of course, there are days when I’m too tempted to take a bite of ice cream or a slice of pizza, but yeah, these are pretty much done with. I have tea cakes (gluten-free) or flourless cakes, vegan cheese pizzas (they’re yummy, I can’t believe I thought they would taste weird), and yeah, life has changed.
The Good Life, Free Of Lactose
My bloating has subsided, which I already have loads off, thanks to IBS and other problems I haven’t talked about yet. (Here is an Instagram post on IBS).
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I WRITE THIS POST AFTER MY FIFTH IBS ATTACK this year. I use the word attack to emphasise my pain and frustration after recovering from anxiety, fever, bloating and more. I’ve had sleepless nights with runner’s stitch (for 8 hours) that have put me off food or just feeling low for days. Food intolerances are one of the biggest worries as of now and amongst them is gluten and dairy. ✨✨How it was diagnosed Earlier this year, I relayed these symptoms to my client and nutritionist @ishi_khosla who counselled me to take @imupro.india tests that help you identify what you’re allergic too. These were quite expensive but confirmed that I couldn’t consumed dairy along with other surprising foods too. P.S: I have been to gastroenterologists who said it’s better to eliminate a particular food item and see how your body reacts. ✨✨It’s not just milk While I avoid dairy and dairy products like the plague ( I can’t have a cappuccino, or a pizza), it’s been difficult to cope with. From figuring out triggers to falling sick and making do with limited food choices (in restaurants and hotels when u travel), I hope there’ll be less of this in 2020. A big thank you to the online community, the Youtubers who have put out their journey, as well as doctors like @drmarkhyman and @ishi_khosla who help you make most of functional medicine. . . . #ibs #ibsawareness #gerd #sibo #foodintolerance #foodintolerances #foodallergies #foodallergylife #lactoseintolerant #lactoseintolerance #fooddiary #2019 #endof2019 #2020vision #2020goals #dietdiary #guthealth #guthealthmatters #beforbeauty
I don’t feel sluggish, I feel nourished and I’m able to enjoy whole foods to the fullest. My body feels mine, and I wouldn’t trade that with anything.
P.S: In some adults, lactose intolerance does go away. It could also be that you’re intolerant to gluten or your gut is severely inflamed leading to malnutrition.
In this journey, I also found out I was terribly low on Vitamin D. So I take Tayo 60K once a week, along with calcium, magnesium supplements daily from GNC.
My hope with this blog is to tell you to not ignore the slightest signs: your body, your gut is telling you something, listen to it. You will feel a whole lot better.
My mom finally believes me, and now stores lactose-free milk at her house. 🙂