A couple of months ago, I started to reduce my dairy intake simply because I’m not a fan of factory farming practices. I hadn’t intended to stop eating dairy altogether, but I wanted to choose produce from smaller and more humane farms.
I had noticed a new product in the refrigerator at the grocery store — oat milk — and I was intrigued. I like oatmeal, and I didn’t like soy milk when I tried it in the past, so I thought that oat milk might be a good alternative. I went ahead and bought a half-gallon.
I tried it that night and was surprised at its delicious taste. Its texture was similar to cow’s milk, and its flavor was subtle. I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t drink regular milk for several days, and I started to realize that I was feeling better. While I haven’t written about it, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) can mess with your digestive system. I hadn’t considered other possible causes for my digestive problems.
Yogurt, milk, and cheese have always been part of my staple diet; I’ve never had a time when I wasn’t eating them. When I first tried oat milk, I was out of yogurt and didn’t have much in the way of cheese. I began to put two and two together and came up with the possibility that I am lactose-intolerant. I tested my theory a few times by adding dairy back into my diet, and each time it upset my system. Huh. I had not expected this.
Since I had never previously avoided dairy products, I hadn’t realized that many of my digestive issues were dairy-related. After cutting milk products out of my diet, even small amounts triggered noticeable reactions. Then when I began searching for dairy-free alternatives, I realized that a lot of products contain milk and milk derivatives.
In the past two months or so, I’ve found that I like Silk soy yogurt, oat milk is awesome, and Trader Joe’s makes the best vegan shredded cheese. A family friend tipped me off that some Cabot cheddar cheeses are naturally lactose-free — I just look for the “lactose-free” designation on the label.
As someone who manages chronic physical symptoms, anything that helps me to feel better is a win. I can’t say that I’m thrilled that I’m lactose-intolerant, but it could be a lot worse. I’ve found some delicious dairy-free products, and I keep lactase tablets with me in case I want to indulge in some cheese or ice cream. I try to maintain balance by including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet. This change has pushed me toward an even healthier diet, as many prepared foods contain milk.
Going dairy-free has worked for me. However, I realize that each person with EDS is different, and their digestive issues may have other causes.
Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.