It all began a few months ago when I was able to start eating again a few months into my morning sickness-laden pregnancy – more than buttered noodles, that is. I had a major pregnant-lady craving for chihuahua cheese. I wanted that cheese so badly, in fact, that I paid twice the price I normally pay because I was so desperate for instant gratification.
And then I ate it. And then it came back.
A seemingly lifelong Weight Watcher, I am granted a reprieve from egg-whites-only and measuring my cheese into tablespoons when pregnant, and there’s nothing I love more to celebrate that freedom than to have a breakfast of my husband’s egg sandwiches: chihuahua cheese, over-easy egg, avocado and Majave hot sauce. But alas, the cheese would not stay down in that form.
But then again, very little else stayed down, either, so I wrote it off as just morning sickness. Until the morning sickness really started to subside but cheese sickness did not. That was when my midwife suggested I cut out dairy for a while.
I think I was more stunned to find out that I could be having pregnancy-induced lactose intolerance than I was to find out that I was pregnant six months earlier.
(For those not “in the know,” lactose intolerance is the inability to process a sugar called lactose and can be temporarily brought on by trauma to the intestines through surgery or illness. This information set me into a daydream in which my jersey-clad, soccer-player fetus is repeatedly kicking my intestines under the mistaken impression that there is a soccer ball lodged in there somewhere.)
“But…but…cheese!” I blubbered to myself as I pushed the cart into Whole Foods to buy almond milk. Coincidentally this is probably precisely the moment that my toddler son went from having no interest in cheese to loving fresh mozzarella balls – and much like an Eastern European grandma, he loves to share food when he’s eating and gets offended when you don’t take a bite of whatever he’s offering. The timing could not have been worse.
So this much I have learned over the past few weeks of being lactose intolerant:
People with lactose intolerance are generally able to handle cheese, especially goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheese. I am not one of those people, as I found out after shelling out quite a bit for some sheep’s milk cheese to grate over my pasta and then having a bad reaction to it anyway.
People of European descent are less likely to be lactose intolerant than any other ethnicity. So unless some Tatars or Mongols had an impact on my bloodline sometime in the 13th century, I’m probably nothing but European, and therefore should be no different than my northern European cheese-loving brethren.
The unusual nature of my lactose intolerance is further emphasized by the fact that I had to go on Baby Center INDIA to find an article about lactose intolerance during pregnancy.
Yes, there are plenty of lactose-free alternatives if you’re looking for them. Trader Joe’s, for instance, where I do most of my grocery shopping, offers lactose-free Swiss cheese from Finland, and they do offer an array of goat cheeses for those who can handle it. Chihuahua cheese, according to a scouring of the Internet, however, is not available in a lactose-free alternative.
And finally: lactose intolerance may be psychosomatic. I ate Oreos with a big glass of almond milk and had a bad reaction to it anyway. What is that about?