I will be the first to admit that lactose intolerance sucks. I complain about it a minimum of twice a day. You miss on wonderful joys in life like mozz sticks (see here for details) and end up spending excessive amounts of time carefully looking at every item on a menu. But, have no fear; I am here to tell you why lactose intolerance is not the worst thing to ever happen to you.
First of all, lets just get educated on what lactose intolerance is. According to my 10th grade biology class (a non pre-med at WashU? I know, I scare myself sometimes) lactose intolerance is when your body doesn’t produce efficient levels of lactase, an enzyme in your digestive system that breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose. Instead, you get fun side effects like bloating, cramps, ~flatulence~, and more. Sexy, it’s true. Try to contain yourself.
But this medical condition, complete with fancy words, is not a death sentence by any means. Here are 11 reasons why you should be proud to be amongst the 25% of Americans who disagree with dairy.
1. When you think about it, eating dairy is kind of gross.
Humans are the only species that consumes the milk of other animals. Yes. That is right. You are consuming the milk produced in the mammary glands of another species. Remember that TIME magazine cover with the breast-feeding mother and her 3-year-old son? That’s you, but in your twenties, with a cow. Maybe that’s extreme but, hey, call me defensive.
2. The dairy industry isn’t a beacon of morality.
Cows used for the dairy industry produce up to twelve times more milk than they naturally would to feed a calf. To keep them lactating as much as possible, the cows are artificially inseminated yearly. When the calves are born, they are often (about 97% of the time) separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth. I’m not telling you to join PETA, I’m just saying stop and think twice before you get that slice of four cheese pizza.
3. Avoiding dairy gives you clearer skin.
Although the studies conducted only show a strong correlation (not causation. Look, I took Statistics too), there seems to be a link between giving up dairy and having better skin. In 2008 Dr. F. William Danby theorized that this might be due to components related to testosterone in cow’s milk stimulating oil glands and contributing to acne.
4. Nasal spray isn’t cool (unless, maybe, you’re an ENT).
Eating too much dairy can worsen sinus congestion. Casein, a protein naturally found in dairy products, can promote the formation of mucus. It can even make your postnasal drip worse and contribute to a runny nose. Honestly, finals week sucks enough without having to worry about going through a box of tissues during an exam.
5. Cereal tastes better.
Ok, maybe I’m biased, but soggy cereal is THE WORST. Why would you ever want to lose the satisfying crunch, or complex tastes of your favorite cereals? The texture is just wrong. Plus, if you’re one of those yogurt-cereal or yogurt-granola types, taking out the dairy aspect just gives you more room to add the better, tastier, more nutritious part of your meal. You’re welcome for now having a better life.
6. There are more fun ways to get calcium.
Dark green, leafy vegetables are an incredible source of calcium. So if you’re sitting in front of your bowl of ice cream telling yourself this is good for your bones, reevaluate your life. Swap out the Ben and Jerry’s for some dairy free ice cream, live a little, and then enjoy amazing meals that highlight your other nutrient-rich favs.
7. Some of the best people eat dairy free.
Beyoncé doesn’t eat dairy. Jared Leto doesn’t eat dairy. J-Lo doesn’t eat dairy. BILL CLINTON DOESN’T EAT DAIRY. If we could have half the energy, charisma, and looks of Bill going for a jog by giving up dairy, who wouldn’t do it? I mean, just look at that smile.
8. You probably will have great self control.
Being forced to constantly evaluate the immediate versus long-term ramifications of your choices can teach you take charge of your life. When you’re picking between not eating pizza mac and cheese or eating pizza mac and cheese and then lying in the fetal position for a few hours afterward while you cramp up, you quickly learn to use your DARE program skills and just say no.
9. Whole Foods becomes Wonderland.
As if going to Whole Foods wasn’t already the best afternoon activity, now you can admire all the wonderful dairy free products that will bring you happiness and joy.
10. Dark Chocolate >>>> Milk Chocolate.
Sorry, but Hershey’s Milk Chocolate is the Mike’s Hard Lemonade of the chocolate world; yeah, it probably tastes ok, but it is just too sweet and is definitely not the good stuff. Grow up and come to the dark side. Plus dark chocolate is supposedly good for your heart. Can’t argue with that.
If you have yet to hear of Lactaid (or any of its equivalents) I am about to rock your world. Take a Lactaid pill or tablet mere minutes before you plan to eat dairy and BOOM, just like that, your body makes magic happen with any lactose that you ingest. Essentially, none of this matters. Go live your life like the dairy-loving human you are.