Let’s talk cheese!

Do you suffer from lactose intolerance?  Or maybe just have an aversion to cheese?  I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that you’re not alone.  According to some studies, approximately 30-50 million (yes, I said million) Americans have some form of lactose intolerance.  My husband included.

You may have been fine as a kid and developed lactose intolerance later in life.  For many, that’s exactly the case.  My husband and I grew up drinking milk, eating processed cheese and using the fake cheese for toppings.  As adults, we started to pay attention to our diets and noticed that we had trouble processing dairy.  For me, it was cow’s milk and some yogurts and for him, it was cheese.  Especially when we had pizza.  And we LOVE cheese!  We did not want to give it up.  The good news is, we haven’t.

You might be wondering how we both still have issues with lactose but continue to have cheese.  Well, the simple answer is we decided to be choosy.  We learned that there are certain types of cheese we can have and others that we have to avoid.  We learned that not all cheese is the same.

What I’m about to share may not apply to everyone, but you’ll have to test it out yourself to decide.  First and foremost, every cheese has a different amount of lactose in it.  This is what matters for those that experience symptoms.  If the cheese is fresher, it will contain more lactose.  Think creamier cheese like ricotta, cottage or cream cheese.  On the other hand, if the cheese has been aged, it will have less lactose.  The longer it’s been aged, the harder it is.  Something like gouda or muenster would fall into this category.  Now the cheese we gravitate toward are brie, cheddar, provolone, gouda, swiss and parmesan.  We have even had dairy-free cheese and loved it!

The thing many may not know is that sugar is the primary content of lactose, which is why it becomes difficult to digest.  Did a light bulb go off yet?  I hope so.  For many that have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance may not actually have an aversion to dairy.  It might be more likely that they have an aversion to sugar.  Think back to a time when you had too many simple carbohydrates or too much candy or soft drinks.  Did you experience similar symptoms as when you eat a piece of American cheese?

Here’s what I’ll leave you with.  Go out and test yourself.  Experiment (with your doctor’s permission, of course) and try out some of the harder cheeses.  I suggest doing it on a weekend when you don’t have too many plans, just in case.  You might just find out it’s not cheese that you have a problem with…

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