FML: A Lactose Intolerant Bitches About the Woes of Being One

July 19, 2019

I haven’t been lactose intolerant all my life. If I can recall correctly, I’d been drinking and eating dairy products on a regular basis until the age of 15. Then my world came crashing down.

Confessions of a Lactose Intolerant1

Okay, fine. It wasn’t that catastrophic at all. I just noticed that after consuming dairy products like milk, ice cream or cheese, I usually ended up locking myself in the bathroom for a good hour or so. While not life threatening, it does come with its fair share of painful (and potentially embarrassing) moments. That, and it can get totally inconvenient, especially during travel situations. Try having the best gelato of your life in Italy, then scrambling to find a public toilet that won’t give you a nasty rash or some communicable disease.

Before you conclude that I’m cursed, it’s interesting to note that lactose intolerance affects more than 90% of Asians worldwide. Yes, there is science to back it up. My guess is that milk really was never in our native diets (as opposed to Western European Cultures).

What Happens When You’re Lactose Intolerant

Confessions of a Lactose Intolerant2

The effects of lactose intolerance usually manifest themselves about 30 minutes after consumption of dairy products. These include:

  • Abdominal Bloating & Cramps – Yes, it hurts. A lot. And your pants get tight.
  • Borborygmi – Or simply, a rumbly stomach. In your lowest, grumbliest voice, say “borborygmi.” That’s exactly the way it sounds.
  • Flatulence – Self explanatory. Steer clear of enclosed spaces. Please lang.
  • Diarrhea – Stock up on toilet paper and wet wipes. While you’re at it, bring a book or a few magazines, and hang a sign on the door that you’re going to take a while.
  • Nausea – Again, inconvenient. Sit down a while and take a breather.
  • Vomiting – God forbid. Thankfully, this hasn’t happened to me.

FML! I Want This To Go Away. Is There A Cure?

Confessions of a Lactose Intolerant3

Curses! There isn’t any. No one’s yet developed a magic remedy to boost the body’s lactose enzyme production. There are, however, a few ways to lessen the symptoms:

Eat Less Dairy

Which is something I’m never ever going to do. I love my gelato and cheese way too much to do something this drastic. Still want your latte? Have your barista use soy milk. In most cases, supermarkets have (pricey!!!) alternatives to cow’s milk, whether it be soy, almond or other non-dairy variants. Same goes for ice creams—you’re better off with soy-based alternatives.

Yoghurt and FroYo fans, take note: Yoghurt still has a high concentration of lactose, though personally, it doesn’t affect me. I’d attribute this to the presence of probiotics (see below).

Regular Ingestion of Probiotics

Admittedly, I’ve never tried this route. Could work, just not a Yakult (or other probiotic liquid product) fan. My guess is you’ve to “train” your stomach by doing this.

Lactose Intolerance Pills

This is my preferred method. I usually have a few banigs of Lactaid Fast-Act packed into my office bag, my pockets, and in my car. Here’s where it gets a bit difficult—no drugstore stocks this stuff in the Philippines. I’ve tried going to Mercury Drug and Watsons, and they all recommend probiotic treatment. I chanced upon Lactaid Fast Act at S&R BGC a few months back, but most of the time, I ask relatives overseas to haul me a couple of boxes when visiting the Philippines.

I Want My Dairy. What Else Can I Do?

Confessions of a Lactose Intolerant4

Okay, you stubborn foodie. My general rule is this: The softer the dairy item, the more lactose it contains. So avoid those. In terms of cheese, the harder and longer aged a cheese is, the less lactose is present. So yes, sprinkle as much Parmesan as you can on that pasta. Cheddar fans, rejoice! Aged cheddar has virtually no lactose left in it. Oh, with butter all the rage these days, it’s of note that butter contains only trace amounts of lactose. Go ahead and use it!

Lactaid has a handy chart of lactose content in dairy food here.

Lactose intolerance affects everyone differently, so I’d recommend consuming dairy in small amounts first—just to see what your tolerances are.

In the meantime, bring some toilet paper, an antacid and please—leave the window open.

Are you lactose intolerant? Which sorts of hell do endure to cope? Feel free to rant in the comments section below!

Jason Drilon Jason Drilon

Jason recently packed his bags and moved to Denmark to work for the world’s most awesome toy brand. And after more than a month, he has only learned to say “Hi,” “Thank you,” and “I want to eat an apple” in Danish.

10 comments in this post SHOW

10 responses to “FML: A Lactose Intolerant Bitches About the Woes of Being One”

  1. Volts Sanchez says:

    What a coincidence, I just had a bout of lactose intolerance last Friday and ended up being late for an office Town Hall meeting because I had the Hershey Squirts. Ugh.

    Me, I’ve been lactose intolerant all my life. As a child, I’d cry so much because of the bloating. Singapore in the 80’s had a supply of soy milk, but I’m told that it had a weird smell, not at all like the tasty odorless stuff we have today. So, I ended up with goat’s milk (and I’m not sure if that’s to blame for the excess of hair on my chin).

    Today, as a responsible adult, I try to find the sweet spot between dairy consumption and gassy regret. Let’s face it: Remove the dairy, remove the tasty. I don’t want to force the issue by downing pure cow secretion, so I limit myself to cheese, which normally doesn’t give me problems.

    Strangely enough, Friday’s attack was because of copious quantities (six pandesal-worth) of cheese spread. Hope I’m not becoming more sensitive.

    • Angelica Gutierrez says:

      I became lactose intolerant in 4th grade, but after my mom switched to buying only low-fat rather than full-cream milk, that seemed to help.

    • Jason Drilon says:

      I actually find it gets worse when I’m stressed out. What usually takes one pill to neutralize (a McDo sundae, for example), takes two.

  2. secretwalangclue says:

    i guess this article is

    ( •_•)>⌐■-■


  3. Rika says:

    sorry, what is FML?

    • Angelica Gutierrez says:

      FML stands for F**k My Life (I know the asterisks are lame, just not sure if swearing is allowed on this site).

  4. Maiba Lang says:

    kaya pala karamihan sa atin pandak… hindi kasi umiinom ng gatas nung kabataan…

  5. Guest says:

    from a fellow lactose intolerant, some groceries sell lactose-free milk na :), for i think less than 100 pesos. usually malapit sa mga UHT milk boxes.

  6. Leonardo Nunes says:

    Hey Jason!
    I just read this article and it gives a good summary of the dread people who suffer from lactose intolerance have to go through. I’m the CEO and co-founder of Novalact, a biotech startup focused on developing a product for people who suffer from lactose intolerance, but is more effective and smarter than lactase pills.
    If you or anyone else is interested find us on facebook :
    or our website:
    Best Wishes

  7. Benjamin Que says:

    Drink Yakult, It cured me…

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