February 3, 2010

Soy milk, anyone?

Soy milk, you either love it or you hate it. Or, in my case, you don't have much choice because you're lactose intolerant.

As a child, I drank milk like water. I loved the taste of cold milk and the sensation of it running down my throat. I remember regularly drinking 2-3 glasses of whole milk (the fattiest kind) everyday, often enjoying them with chocolate chunk (that's right, CHUNK, not chip) cookies after school. Then my teenage years hit and I decided to stop drinking milk completely as part of my scheme to lose weight like everybody else. That continued for a few years until around the age of 18 when I suddenly decided that I should start eating healthier. My cleverly designed healthy diet consisted of a glass of skim milk in the morning + yoghurt as a mid-morning snack...which left me feeling nice and rotten every single day!!

Eventually, I discovered I was actually lactose intolerant and it's something I've had to put up with for the last 10 or so years. Different dairy products affect me differently. Milk, obviously, is the worst. For me, yoghurt is pretty bad too. Cheese, I can tolerate moderate amounts. Ice-cream...leaves me incredibly farty. While lactose intolerance is not life threatening and I definitely would not say I'm suffering because of it, I find that it is a bit of a hassle sometimes and carries with it certain social implications that people may not realize.

Ordering coffee now routinely involves the question 'do you have soy milk?' which often makes me feel a bit snooty as if I'm a health conscious nut who's too savvy for regular milk. If soy milk is available, great! But make sure to bring extra change because there are extra charges most of the time. If it's not available, I'm stuck with a bitter cup of long black/Americano. Then there are the grand inquisitions people have upon finding out I drink soy milk. Reactions generally involve some sort of 'ewww...' together with a slight look of disgust. This is generally followed by questions of 'what happens when you drink milk?' which then forces me to discuss in detail of how I get farty, gassy, burpy with bouts of diarrhea sometimes. NICE....

Iced chocolate drink at specialty stores are now out of the question as many are often blended with a frozen pre-made dairy product. A nice slice of cheesecake? I don't think so. A trip to the ice-cream store on a hot day is no longer as fun as it used to be. Having cereal for breakfast? Better whip out the good ole soy milk again!

These are just the more obvious food items the lactose intolerant has to look out for. There's also a lot of diary products lurking is creamy pastas, soups and of course, in cheesy pizzas. This gets especially difficult when you're dining at someone's house. They've cooked up a delicious meal of seafood spaghetti with creamy alfredo sauce and homemade cheesecake for dessert. Now, one of my major pet peeves is picky eaters. So being a polite guest, I try to eat everything off my plate (which, don't get me wrong, is usually delicious) and deal with the consequences of holding in farts all night long.

Of course, there's always the option of taking lactase pills which help digest the lactose in diary products. But these are pricey and have to be taken immediately prior to eating the dairy product which makes it a bit inconvenient sometimes. With all that being said, in many ways, I already have it easy compared to others with more serious dietary restrictions like diabetics or those with celiac disease who cannot eat gluten. In comparison, I guess soy milk is really not too bad!!



Steph Lam said...

weird the same thing happaned to me... i like soy milk tho.. i drink my soy mochas all the time.. and if i eat cheese and such.. i learned to take lactaid.. or Patrick has to put up with my farting.... lol

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