Cheese. Gold and glorious cheese. For cheese lovers, the options are endless. Cheddar, gouda, pepper jack, Swiss — even cream cheese, cottage cheese and ricotta! The list goes on and on. Cheese eaters are never bored with the large variety available worldwide. Cheese is so versatile. It can be sweet or savory. Hot or cold. Solid or liquid. If you can imagine it, it can probably happen. But what about those of us who love cheese but are lactose intolerant? Sadness fills us as our stomachs puff out, instantly becoming bloated. Some of us avoid dairy altogether — the price to pay is not worth it. Others don’t care what happens to their bodies — they want all the dairy and all the cheese. So what if your stomach is a little bloated? So what if your innards are irritated, calling you an idiot? For those of us with these experiences, we want cheese. It can be a tough world out there for a lactose-intolerant person. Dairy is in just about everything we consume.

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Cheese alone can possibly be avoided — but not all dairy. Butter, for example, is a dairy product that is in so many different types of food. So what is there to do?
There are lactase enzyme pills that can be taken on a per-meal basis. These pills are typically fairly priced and can be purchased over the counter. They break down lactase enzymes in food, which allows lactose-intolerant individuals to have dairy products, usually without any problem. However, this doesn’t sound appealing to everyone, now, does it? Who wants to have to take a pill with EVERY meal that contains dairy?

There are lactose-free options as well. For example, there is milk made without lactose. And then there are milk replacements altogether (i.e. rice milk, almond milk, soymilk, etc.). Personally, I’m not fond of almond milk and would rather drink lactose-free or rice milk.

Some other tips that might be useful to know:

  • Lactose is a sugar found in dairy.
  • Look for cheese with lower levels of sugar.
  • Fresh cheese has more lactose in it.
  • Aged cheese is better for lactose-intolerant individuals because it has a lower lactose content
  • Colby, Monterey Jack and Swiss are some of the few that have lower levels of lactose (or close to none) due to the aging process.

What would I do? I would pick and choose my battles. Personally, I love cheese and dairy too much to completely forsake it. I can deal with butter and aged cheeses without having any issues. However, ricotta and fresh mozzarella are a lactose-intolerant individual’s worst nightmare. Delicious as they may be, dairy is not worth the pain and suffering it causes. I would avoid those or take a lactase enzyme pill. And I’ve already given my stance on the milk. Why take a pill when you can just find a substitute that isn’t actually terrible? Try a few different lactose-free milks to find the one you like. Some are better than others.