Lactose intolerance is a fairly common food intolerance that affects many people. You can be severely or mildly intolerant. Lactose is a sugar in milk that requires an enzyme in the stomach to break it down. Not everyone who is lactose intolerant has the same symptoms, but all of them lack the ability to break down lactose in milk products. People who are lactose-intolerant lack the enzyme needed to break down the lactose.
While this particular intolerance has been on the rise in the last 20-30 years, many people have it and some don’t realize it. They just know that they don’t feel good when they eat dairy. Most people expect severe reactions when the lactose intolerant are sick, but many people may only experience excess mucus (runny nose), eczema, bloating, excess gas, or mild stomach discomfort. Other people may have more severe reactions like diarrhea, vomiting, or both.
Lactose intolerance is something I am very familiar with. My mother and my youngest daughter are both severely lactose intolerant. My mom has been most of her life and my daughter has been her whole life. Neither one can tolerant many processed dairy products. They both can do very few minimally processed dairy products like cheese. Neither can drink regular milk but can handle lactose-free milk.
Many processed foods that you may have on hand for easy eating contain milk. This can present some challenges when acquiring food storage, especially for emergencies. When you are lactose intolerant or providing for someone who is, you become a master at reading labels.
My prepping for lactose intolerance has been to avoid dairy altogether. We do eat some hard cheeses, butter, and sour cream. I try to stick to shelf-stable food preps so I usually avoid anything needing refrigeration. Cheese, butter, and sour cream are not easy to stockpile so I don’t have many of them on hand. (I do keep some ghee on hand, but that stuff is spendy!) I do know that you can get these in powdered form or freeze-dried, but we have not had good results using them.
One of the first areas I have addressed for my lactose-intolerant family members was fluids. While you can just stick to water and broths for fluids, I do find that some recipes are better with something different. In that respect, I keep canned coconut milk and shelf-stable almond and rice milk on hand. These provide the “creaminess” that some recipes demand without making everyone sick. You do have to watch the expiration dates on these and rotate through them on a consistent basis.
Another area I addressed was having ingredients on hand to make food from scratch. I am continually amazed by how many processed items contain milk or dairy that shouldn’t need it. I have been cooking from scratch for this reason for years so that Paige doesn’t get sick. You can easily control the ingredients and make the necessary food swaps if you make things from scratch. This does make life harder when you don’t have time to cook, but I usually pick a day and batch cook.
With the advent of vegan products more readily available in stores, you can find more shelf-stable items to substitute for dairy. Coconut cream, coconut oil, nut butters, and more are staples in our food storage now. This article from Healthline also gives great substitutions for dairy products. The shelf life on these products is not as long as the conventionally processed food, but a good rotation system will ensure you keep the food fresh.
Some of the easier to eat and store foods that we have kept on hand for quick eating have been fruit leathers, fruit snacks, canned applesauce, granola bars (read the ingredients – not all are dairy-free), small bags of potato chips, dried fruits, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, canned fruit, and more. There is still quite a variety of foods you can store and eat while being lactose-intolerant.
One of the last ways we have prepared for lactose intolerance is stocking lactase enzyme replacement pills. They are more commonly known as Lactaid or lactose intolerance pills. While these help with the major symptoms of lactose intolerance (diarrhea and vomiting), we found that they don’t keep away the other pesky symptoms like bloating and excess mucus. It has been easier all the way around for my mom and my daughter to just avoid dairy if possible.
My daughter and my mom use these pills sparingly. One of the things we have found out is that they lose their potency if you take them every day. My daughter only really takes them on holidays or at the times she doesn’t want to be rude about what is being served to her. However, she keeps them nearby just in case she does need them.
We also keep a stockpile of Pepto-Bismol or something similar if she does eat dairy unknowingly. If this is not an option having anti-diarrheal and anti-nausea pills also help when one is having a reaction. These pills usually help ward off the worst symptoms but are not a cure-all.
As with any food intolerance or food allergy, you have to make allowances for what you are dealing with. You need to adjust and take care of the problem yourself. You can’t depend on other people to look out for your dietary needs so you need to be proactive about preparing for yourself in any situation. While the times are pretty decent yet, you can still stock up on food and prepare for any food issues affecting yourself and your family.
However, when S hits the fan, you will have to work out a different solution. Like I said before, we practice a general avoidance of dairy or keep it limited so no one gets sick. I think general avoidance is the way to go and adjusting your diet now to live without dairy will make the future easier. Whatever you decide is best, you need to be taking care of the issue now, not later.
Thanks for reading,
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