When you get used to feeling, seeing, or hearing a certain way, you just assume it’s normal. It’s your normal. It surprised me when I couldn’t pass the vision exam for my driver’s license test at 16; the lady giving the test kind of bluffed me through it.

My senior year I got glasses—which I only wore for math class—because I couldn’t read the problems on the board. Although nearsighted, I was 20 years old before an optometrist gently suggested that maybe my eyes needed a little help all the time and I started wearing contacts.

I’ll never forget the shock of pulling up to a major intersection where the road extended far into the distance and realizing all that I’d missed seeing over the years. My normal has never been the same.

I’ve had a similar experience with dairy: it’s taken time to realize that now I need help digesting foods that I used to eat with no problem. My stomach distends like a ball inflated by an air pump. Sometimes there’s only the swelling and discomfort; sometimes I’m gassy; the worst is when I’m running for the bathroom.

I’d given up Chick-fil-a milkshakes and eating cereal on mornings when I needed to leave the house. We received two tins of Starbucks instant hot cocoa for Christmas and it was love at first sip. Until the misery hit. Whatever was happening to my digestive system, I didn’t like it. It cramped my style, not to mention my stomach.

Lactaid milkOn a whim I bought a box of Lactaid Fast Act Caplets on the way to an Italian restaurant for a friend’s birthday in February. I’d finally made the connection that dairy was my problem and thought a night of mozzarella and Alfredo sauce would be perfect to test the theory.

It worked! You swallow a caplet with your first bite of food, easy enough. At one point I felt the familiar my-stomach-is-being-inflated-with-an-air-pump feeling, but then it passed. (I now identify some meals as 2-tablet meals; this would be one.)

At home, I drink Lactaid milk. The caplets work to stop possible digestion problems, but the milk completely prevents them.

Lactaid Caplets are not a medication, but a supplement. My body isn’t producing enough of the digestive enzyme lactase to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. Lactaid Caplets contain lactase, which helps break down the lactose in the foods I eat.

Lactaid milk contains no lactose. Lactase has been added to break it down.

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about lactose, lactase, and Lactaid:

What is Lactose? 

  • Lactose is the major carbohydrate in milk and other dairy foods
  • Lactose (milk sugar) consists of two simple sugars – glucose and galactose
  • Lactose must be broken down into glucose and galactose by the intestinal enzyme lactase before it can be absorbed by the body

What does it mean to be Lactose Intolerant? 

  • Most people produce that natural enzyme, lactase, which breaks down lactose (sugar in milk). The amount of lactase your body produces will determine how much lactose your body can break down
  • Everyone has different levels of lactose intolerance
  • It is common for lactose intolerance to be progressive; many people develop a lactose intolerance later in life

What is LACTAID? 

  • LACTAID® Products can help people who have a lactose sensitivity to digest dairy products without stomach discomfort so they can enjoy the creamy, delicious taste of dairy that they love
  • LACTAID provides the lactase that the body can’t produce enough of, which helps you break down lactose
  • LACTAID® Dairy Products are 100% real dairy, just with a natural yeast-derived enzyme added called lactase
  • LACTAID® Lactose-Free Products include Milks, Cottage Cheese, Ice Cream and Eggnog
  • LACTAID® is the nation’s #1 lactose-free dairy brand.

About LACTAID Milk

  • LACTAID is real milk – 100% lactose free – with the same nutrient profile
  • The lactase enzyme is added to the milk to break down the lactose, resulting in a slightly sweeter taste
  • LACTAID is ultra pasteurized and lasts longer under proper refrigeration – once open it should be consumed within 1 week
  • LACTAID products are calcium enriched
  • We need about 1000 mg of calcium each day
    • LACTAID provides 500 mg of calcium in each 8 oz glass— you only need two glasses of LACTAID to get your day’s worth of calcium requirements
    • A regular 8 oz glass of milk has 300 mg of calcium

Tips for eating with Lactose Intolerance: 

  • Important note: if someone who is lactose intolerant consumes products containing lactose on an empty stomach, they will be more prone not to tolerate it. Eating lactose with other food will help you digest it more easily
  • Many lactose-intolerant people find that yogurt doesn’t bother them
    • Yogurt has live and active cultures in it that help digest the lactose
    • Greek yogurt has double the protein and fewer carbs, which means less lactose and easier to digest
    • If tolerated, yogurt is a great way to get nutrients and calcium needed in an everyday diet!
  • Rule of thumb for eating cheese: the harder the cheese, the less moisture or whey in it—as a result, the less lactose in it
    • Always choose the aged cheeses, as they are lower in lactose
    • Aged Cheddar, Gruyère, Pecorino and Swiss cheeses will have less lactose in them
    • Melissa suggests introducing these aged cheeses back into your family’s diets in small amounts to see how much they and/or you are able to tolerate

I tell all of my girlfriends about Lactaid. I initially thought I should blog about it, but then I got embarrassed. When The Motherhood sent a survey asking if anyone in my family suffered from lactose sensitivity, I knew it was time.

On Friday I participated in a conference call with celebrity chef, television host, and Lactaid brand spokesperson Melissa d’ Arabian and registered dietician Michelle Harrington. Lactose sensitivity can come on gradually with age, but it also affects many children.

If you’re having an Aha! moment (do you suffer from these symptoms?) and want to try Lactaid, or if you know you know you’re lactose sensitive, leave a comment. One commenter will receive a coupon for a free Lactaid product so you can give it a try.

[Disclosure: I will be compensated for my participation in this program.]

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