It didn’t take a doctor to tell me that something was wrong. Every time I had ice cream, I felt like there was an invisible Mohammad Ali beating my stomach into oblivion. Still, I went to the doctor and got it confirmed: I was Lactose intolerant. I cried for about seven months and then I made an incredible discovery.

I could still eat yogurt. I cancelled all my plans, put on a pair of sweatpants and waited to be sidelined for the next 24 hours, which never happened. Wait, what?

Let’s go back to the science of it all.

Lactose intolerance is when your body doesn’t produce enough lactase. Lactose, a natural milk sugar made of glucose and galactose, is in dairy products. When being digested, an enzyme called Lactase, separates the glucose and galactose so they can be absorbed. When your body doesn’t produce enough lactase, the sugars stay connected and all of those uncomfortable symptoms wreak havoc on your digestive system.

Photo by Tara Botwinick

Typically, anything over 12 grams of lactose will give someone with the intolerance a problem. However, it can vary depending on the severity of each case. I am particularly sensitive so, when I ate yogurt, I was even more perplexed. This is when I decided to do some research.

Although yogurt has as much lactose as anything, the live and active cultures, also known as the bacteria, that yogurt is made with do the same thing as lactase. They break down much of the lactase, especially in low fat yogurts. Greek yogurt is especially fantastic because during the extensive straining process, a lot of the lactose is removed.

Other secret gems include hard and aged cheeses like cheddar and parmesan. Also, Kefir, a drinkable yogurt, is another example with even more probiotics.

Unfortunately, things like mozzarella, or even soft-serve frozen yogurt, will not make your tummy very happy. This is because very high fat products are more difficult to digest and many soft serve options are made with a significant amount of whey protein concentrate. This is an additive that makes food seem richer and creamier because it’s made with concentrated lactose.

It may be a small win for me and my lactose intolerant people but it’s a delicious one. So if anyone needs me, I’ll be celebrating with an aged cheese plate.