Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tolerating Intolerance

This middle-aged body has become lactose intolerant in the last six months. As the current partner and roommate of the provocateur at bowlofcheese.com cheese and other dairy treats have been an essential part of my life for a long time.

Needless to say, lactose intolerance is taking some adjustment.

I've been moving through Kubler-Ross' stages of grief as I mourn the loss of cheese. I started with denial. "What" This can't be true. It must be a stomach bug."

So I kept eating cheese and dairy. And I kept feeling bloated, crampy and uncomfortable.

Now? I vacillate between anger, bargaining, and depression.

What does this look like? I'm testing the boundaries of what I can and cannot eat (bargaining).
  • A little bit of blue cheese on a salad - ok
  • Caesar salad with Parmesan shavings - most assuredly not ok
  • Homemade pizza with glassy soy cheese - fine, if you go for that sort of thing
  • North End pizza with mozzarella - stomach churning
  • Hollandaise on eggs Benedict - fine
  • Croque madame at Brasserie Jo - never again
  • Saag paneer - not so bad in small amounts
  • Sour cream-based veggie dip - also do-able in small amounts
And the anger? The depression? At the grocery store, in restaurants and watching Top Chef and other food shows on tv when I realize there is one more thing to add to my list of foods I'll ever be able to eat a full (or even a half) serving of again:
  1. Ice cream (Don't give me that "But you can have sorbet!" b.s. Sorbet is NOT the same as ice cream)
  2. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  3. Macaroni and cheese
  4. New England clam chowder
  5. Yogurt
  6. Chicken cordon bleu (I didn't eat this a lot, or ever, but now I want it simply because I can't have it)
  7. Cottage cheese
  8. Nachos
The Lactaid pills (and their generic equivalent) don't seem to have much impact on the issue, and I'd rather just avoid the food that makes me feel so uncomfortable, than put my body through the turmoil of having to adjust to something I naturally shouldn't be eating.

And over time I'll pass into acceptance. I smile wryly when I hear myself saying "I love soy milk and coconut milk ice cream WAY better the original," and can see the bright side of savoring a nibble - rather than a gobble - of fine cheese when we visit places like Formaggio and Farmstead. This is my body. I can't fight it, so instead I'm trying to tolerate my intolerance.

Have you adjusted to lactose intolerance? How'd you do it? If you HAD to give up dairy, what would you miss the most?


Sandwichboard said...

I grok you. My first confirmation came as, on experimentation, I denied myself dairy for a week. I then poured myself a single tall glass of 2%, and downed it. The sounds that were forthcoming were similar to the rending steel of an exploding Death Star.
The lactaid pills are marginal, I agree. But don't rule out taking 2 of them and getting a small burnt caramel ice cream at Toscaninis. You'll pay a little. But it's less than the price of "never again."

Clownface said...

Bailey's Irish Cream. I SHOULDN'T drink this...but I do.

Meg said...

Milkshakes. Chocolate, specifically. Blue cheese. Alfredo sauces. Lattes (could do soy, but don't like the flavor of either the regular or vanilla stuff.)

I'm not lactose intolerant, but I get whackass esophageal spasms and serious heartburn, and might have a bit of an ulcer growing. It's bad when I consume a lot of acidic stuff (which is the stuff I love the most) or I'm stressed. There's 80 things I should be doing differently, but I need to give myself a kick in the head.

Proud you're taking care of feeling good.

Clownface said...

Eggnog and beef stroganoff. Also on the "no" list. (I learned the hard way.)