When my doctor told me that I would have to start a lactose intolerant diet in late January I was not pleased.
I really like pizza as well as cheeseburgers and coffee with creamer, so many of my favorite foods unfortunately would have to go out the window. I started off this whole routine by finding substitutes to the majority of my favorite food. I prioritized pizza, I got a can of premade dough, some Ragu sauce, pepperonis, and dairy free shredded cheddar cheese. Despite having the oven at 425 degrees and everything else was finely cooked, the cheese barely even melted. It almost had a plastic consistency. The taste was better than it looked, though. It tasted very similar to a homemade pizza, and the cheese just gave it a weird texture and tasted like something that was trying to be cheese but just could not get it quite right.
Although the school does offer dairy free milk alternatives, when it comes to finding dairy free food, it gets more difficult. Throughout the majority of the week, the majority of the main course options have some kind of dairy involved in them leaving me with sides and chips to choose from to eat as my meal. On Wednesdays when it comes to the school nachos, these are one of my absolute favorite all time school food meals and having to ask for it without cheese just takes away a lot of the flavor.
Another part of the experience is all of the different milk alternatives. There is a wide variety of options for dairy free milk, and I decided to go with a classic, soy milk. Soy milk is made from grinding up soybeans allowing for a texture similar to milk but a very unique taste. There are different flavors of soymilk, ranging from classic regular milk to chocolate or vanilla. The chocolate and vanilla actually taste decent with both of them having some resemblance to the dairy alternatives although the soy milk has a more in-depth flavor to it and the aftertaste is less than pleasant.
I normally start off my day with a cup of coffee and some toast or a bagel smothered in butter; however, this would no longer be the case. The creamer I use in my coffee, French Vanilla, is loaded with dairy products, and I also would have to find a good butter substitute. Finding a creamer substitute was fairly easy. I went with the old-fashion powder-like creamer. It takes a lot more to get the same impact on the flavor than it does with regular liquid creamer, but it still gets the job done. Finding a good butter alternative was not as easy. I started off with some random brand of margarine thinking all margarine was the same. I was very wrong. When I would spread the margarine over my toast or bagel, it would soak into the bread and instead of giving it flavor with a nice crunch, it would make the bread soggy and take away from the overall flavor. I was not pleased when I bit into my bagel expecting the sweet butter flavor and got a mouthful of soggy bread. After going through other alternatives and different brands, I finally settled with County Crock. It helps deliver the sweet butter taste that I missed so dearly and does not have a huge impact of the texture of the bread.
Overall, my diet has become very restricted, and I have found myself hungrier throughout the course of the day with a large increase in the amount of growls coming from my stomach. For the first couple of weeks at school when I could not find something to eat, I would live off Starburst in the vending machines, but I have since started bringing my own, healthier snacks from home and sometimes bring my own lunch entirely.
I do not feel any different than I did from before I started the diet and I have not noticed any extreme changes in my health with the exception of being hungry a lot. I do not know how over 20 percent of the country lives like this throughout their entire lives, but it definitely has been difficult.