Suffering the intolerance around lactose intolerance
Everyone has an opinion. There’s a phrase about how everyone has one and it centres around a comparison that we’ll not mention here. Opinions are fine with us. But when those opinions are expressed about something that most people haven’t had to live with, experience, measure their days by, then they really start to stick in the craw.
Making the lactose intolerant out to be picky, fussy, difficult, stupid, attention seeking and more has become way of dismissing a problem that impacts many people in very real ways every day. Reading back over a Guardian tirade by Jay Rayner and you see an article that’s older than a well aged bitto storico, but the attitudes that he holds remain the experience of many people with food intolerances on a daily basis.
The thing is, it’s not you who has the problem – it’s them. They’re the exceptions in nature, they’re the broken ones who can digest anything, if you’re lactose intolerant, you’re normal!
65% (roughly) of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. It’s just a certain genetic twist within some Western Europeans that makes them the freaks who can digest and process lactose and lactase.
An affliction, not a choice.
So many of the lactose intolerant people we know will tell us how much they loved dairy products – it was just that lactose didn’t love them back. Milk, cheese, cream and butter are missed and enjoyed by everyone we speak to. They weren’t making pernickety, faddish food choices, our friends were facing a daily fight with an enzyme that their bodies were trying to reject at every turn.
Making the choice not to eat dairy products was simple – when something makes you that sick, you might miss the enjoyment it gave, but that’s soon outweighed by the relief that comes from not having to live with the consequences. The difficulty comes from the attitudes of others.
The curious questions, the loud sigh, the awkward brew round… they have all been there. Being a problem that has to be fixed with dairy smuggled into things in the hope that it will make things better. As if to say that our friends would be better people for a smear of butter in a sandwich.
But people with lactose intolerance should not be made to feel like an inconvenience. They are the people who are normal. They’re right and it’s everyone else that’s wrong.
Today, there are lots of great lactose free milks and other dairy products available that can bring back the pleasure of dairy without all of the unpleasent side effects.