A Cool Savings Plan I’ve Discovered Is Lactose Intolerance (I Want to Die)

I’ve been afflicted by a tenacious tummy ache for almost a month now.

Rather than make a trip to the doctor and spend $30 to be told “it’s stress” (IT. ISN’T. STRESS.), I decided to take a cool, groovy, Scooby Doo approach and solve the mystery myself! Which basically meant I mainlined Tums to the point where my face and fingertips were covered in bismuth powder. I looked like a junkie, appropriately, because, after weeks of depriving myself of cocktails and my usual six full meals daily, I felt like one, too. Phase two of my treatment involved complaining to my mom and all my friends. Phase three, the most advanced phase, was monitoring how I felt after eating different things.

After days of observation, my expert (bachelor’s degree in journalism) diagnosis comes down to: a sudden, unexplained bout of lactose intolerance, which, in this hell of a world we live in today, is an actual thing that can happen! Randomly! To even the most accomplished cheese-and-ice cream devotees! Diagnosis was confirmed when my nurse (who is also me!!) looked back on my charts to discover that symptoms began mere hours after consuming an entire box of Velveeta and Shells (Shellveeta!) for dinner one Thursday evening weeks ago. 

In the wake of my diagnosis (of myself!) I find myself stranded in a beige-y land of bland grains and grilled chicken and heavy, wallowy No thankses to ice cream offerings. The human body is a delicate system, and it can only digest so much processed cheese medium before it decides You’ve Had Enough. No more cheese? Guess I have an opening at the top of my FAVORITE THINGS TO CONSUME WITH RECKLESS ABANDON list. Any takers (gentlemen?)?

Good news is a cheese-and milk-free diet is not only great for the heart (medically, that is—emotionally, I no longer have a heart) it also is great for the wallet. I ran a few numbers (I am also my own accountant!) to find out how much I’d save in a dairy-less year, and let’s just say, it’s a lot of cheddar. (RIP cheddar.) (Fuck.)

1. Adding a slice of cheese onto burgers at restaurants
My guess is I order about 3 burgers per month at restaurants (should I be embarrassed or…?) and the price for a dairy indulgence this is a ridiculous $1-$2 per slice! Sans slice-addition, I’ll save about $54 bucks a year. Which I can add on to the money I’ll save from never ordering another burger again because A BURGER WITHOUT CHEESE IS A BURGER NOT WORTH MASTICATING.

2. Weekday afternoon fro-yo jaunts
This is a thing that happens to people who work 9-6, Monday through Friday, in dry, dismal offices pitched high in the sky within some Midtown skyscraper. People who face walls, not windows. People who feel their contact lenses fusing with their eyeballs as they stare, unblinking, at a blank Word document. Afternoon fro-yo saves lives, but costs a pretty penny — like 500 pretty pennies and up, to be exact (depending on how debased you become at the toppings bar). Eliminating my once-a-week-or-so trip to the fro-yo place will save me about $250 this year. Unfortunately, I’ll spend twice that on… ugh… kale chips, I guess?

3. Breakfast sammies
Dead to me. The simple elegance of an egg-and-cheese-on-an-everything-bagel has, since college, anchored any morning, whether shitty or just whatever, in a place of sheer, unadulterated (if temporary) joy-bliss. There is no joy-bliss greater than tucking into a breakfast sandwich and watching the orange cheese-sheet stretch from the sandwich to your teeth. You see, on my breakfast sandwiches, I opt out of a meat addition, and the egg is only a vehicle, and the bread, a foundation. All for the cheese. The cheese was the breakfast. The cheese was all.
Anyway, that’s fucking over for me. I’ll save like, seven billion dollars. But I’ll lose five times that much, in tears.

4. Cream in my coffee
One of the greatest treats about living in NYC is a thing I’ve come to call “candy coffee,” which is when you order coffee at a deli and the counter-person puts in the cream and sugar for you, and the result is a very sweet, very light-colored liquid that tastes like hot, melted Werthers candies. After a full year in New York, I’ve mapped out all places near home and work that cream-and-sugar your coffee for you, because why would I ever want to eat the bitter bullshit I put together myself when I can swill creamy unicorn blood all morning!

OVER FOR ME. I’ve bought a coffee at a deli every morning since the day I started my job a year ago… I will not even go there with that calculation because I think it will make my parents not love me anymore, but, you get the picture. Big moneys.

What’s a girl to do with all that extra money, but so much less happiness? Suppose I’ll turn my attention to, like, mustards. Or something.


Lauren Rodrigue does not even want to hear one word about soy cheese. 


33 Comments / Post A Comment

honey cowl (#1,510)


Renleigh (#2,110)

@Lauren MINE TOO.

Also, I really loved the way this was written. Maybe I could give up cheese if it made me a better writer? (No.)

Megano! (#124)

@Renleigh If anything, cheese makes you a better writer

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

(1) You can develop lactose intolerance at adulthood, even if you could drink cow’s milk like no tomorrow when you were a kid.

(2) Lactaid pills are your friend, unless you prefer not to have dairy in your diet.
/not helpful (financially)

Heckyes (#1,162)

Have you tried the Lactaid pills? I’m lactose intolerant, too, but I can eat dairy again! (And I sound like a commercial, I know, and I apologize.) Ice cream and cheese and whipped cream and milk! All at once, if I want!
You just take a pill as you eat your delicious dairy-filled meal and it does all of the digesting for you! They also have chewable kinds if you don’t like pills. I keep some in my purse (along with a stash at my house and in my car) for dairy emergencies. Seriously life changing.

wearitcounts (#772)

i’m currently going through this with eggs. i flippin’ love eggs, but every time i eat them, my stomach hates me for an entire day.

why this is specific to eggs, i have no idea. but it’s very upsetting.

logan’s tags are still the best. “miss u cheese” haaaaa.

hershmire (#695)

@wearitcounts Could be an egg allergy. Be careful of flu shots.

wearitcounts (#772)

@cdarcy hmmm. good point. though i don’t know if i’ve ever gotten a flu shot? my immune system is pretty strong and i always figure elderlies/kiddos/healthcare workers need them more than me.

patiolanterns (#2,234)

@wearitcounts It might just be the yolks. I always feel like hot garbage for days after eating yolks (this includes products such as mayo which is just the saddest thing ever). Try just egg whites and see if your stomach is still dying from the inside out.

wearitcounts (#772)


sandwiches (#1,688)

@wearitcounts noooo, the elderlies/kiddos/healthcare workers/pregnant women/otherwise immunocompromised groups who may not be able to get vaccinations need you to get your flu shot (if you don’t have an egg allergy, which you should get checked if you can afford it; if you do have an egg allergy you can get the anti-flu nasal spray [Fluad] which is not contraindicated for egg allergies) because it provides them with protection by herd immunity. and now your friendly local healthcare student will stop with the run-on sentences and show herself out.

wearitcounts (#772)

@sandwiches i have also never gotten the flu. but i will keep that in mind.

singstrix (#1,974)

All may not be lost (but I’m sorry if it is): can your body handle goat cheese? I’ve known a surprising number of people who are violently allergic to cow dairy, but can digest goat dairy. I meeean, chèvre ain’t no Velveeta, but it IS cheese.

Also, if you don’t hate tomato, egg + tomato (salt and pepper optional) on a bagel or English muffin is my jam.

thejacqueline (#799)

@singstrix Goat cheese is A-OK for the lactose impaired among us. As are most hard cheeses, actually.

lrodrigue (#1,315)

u r all so supportive & angelic

OllyOlly (#669)

I was just on a weird elimination diet to try to solve gastric distress and the guides I followed said I could eat cheeses that had 0g of sugar since that indicates there is trace amount of lactose. This may be totally false, but maybe you can check yo’ cheeses and you might still be able to tolerate some.

I’m a lactard too. Unfortunately (or fortunately), fro-yo is typically okay for us, as is regular yogurt (good for the digestive tract). Goat cheese and sheep’s milk, too! Try them, but don’t hate me if you get sick — I’m just going off of my personal experience and that of my lactarded brethren. For some context, I’m pretty sensitive — I have to take like 6 Lactaids to have a tiny bit of ice cream and even then… Also, sandwiches without cheese are useless.

mjfrombuffalo (#2,232)

“Diagnosis was confirmed when my nurse (who is also me!!) looked back on my charts to discover that symptoms began mere hours after consuming an entire box of Velveeta and Shells (Shellveeta!) for dinner one Thursday evening weeks ago. ”

This proves nothing. Everyone knows Velveeta is just melted plastic ;)

pizza (#599)

I can tolerate dairy, but choose not to have consume it. If you can figure out how to transfer that over—you’re welcome to have it.

Deana B@twitter (#2,213)

@pizza but..your name?

Megano! (#124)

Yeah, I developed lactose intolerance when I was 20, except I live in Canada so an actual doctor told me. BUT your cheese and froyo lifestyle is not necessarily over with! As long as the frozen yogurt has probiotcs in it, you can eat it (although not in huge quantities) usually without feeling sick, and certain kinds of cheeses are lower in lactose than others (goat, swiss and cheddar are the ones I know offhand). You can also buy digestive enzymes with lactase in them but that will not save you money.
Also I find my reactions to lactose are much worse when I’m stressed.

Ugh, the coffee thing is rough. I love me some light and sweet coffee! But I’ve been trying to cut back on dairy, so here’s a thought (it works for me): If you’re taking the coffee back to the office, you could keep a carton of coconut milk creamer (or chocolate almond milk, if you’re into it) in the office fridge! Some coffee shops have soy milk, but plain old soy just doesn’t do it for me, and usually it gets that weird gritty, floaty stuff.

Oh god. Yes, this happened to me, too. Except in addition to the weird gastric why why why me, there was also acne. Like, a lot of it. Which stopped when I became more or less vegan at home due to laziness/brokeness/why did I think grad school in the arts is a good idea there are many articles as to why it is not, ice cream would help with aaaaargh.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@bustedsneakers I only started reading those articles once I was already in grad school.

Pumpkin (#2,153)

This sounds weird, but any chance you’ve recently taken antibiotics?

I used to take some for acne issues when I was in my early twenties, and thought I had developed lactose intolerance. I quit taking them and then suddenly a year later, cheese again!

I thought I was lactose intolerant for the longest two years of my life (also self diagnosed) but it turns out I’m not – I have celiac instead! Yay. Apparently it’s often misdiagnosed as lactose intolerance, since the damage does interfere with lactose digestion.

So, the good news: all cheese, all the time. The bad news: no bread (and eleventy-billion other random things.)

For you, I reeeeally hope it’s just the lactose. And eat the fro-yo!

AlliNYC (#1,725)

Well I guess this would explain why I ate an ENTIRE wedge of Brie (the standard size you get at the grocery, you know) on Tuesday and have felt like DEEEEEAAAAATTTTTHHHHHHH ever since.


@AlliNYC I initially read this as “wheel of Brie” and then went back and saw “wedge,” and thought, “Oh, only a WEDGE? That’s like, BARELY excessive at all.”

Ainuvande (#2,238)

This totally happened to me! Including the self-diagnosis. My doctor later said “huh. And the Lactaid does the trick? Then we’ll just make a note in your file and not bother with the horribly annoying test.” But Lactaid, it is a thing. A thing that lets me eat dairy! Although you have to make sure to take a pill for every serving of dairy you eat. But! There is Lactaid milk! Although I usually buy the store-brand version because it’s about half the price. So you can still have cream in your coffee.

km1312 (#213)

Look, avocado is no cheese, but it definitely amps up a burger or sandwich.

Soy milk is surprisingly sweet and yummy in coffee.

skippersarah (#2,314)

You know what’s even worse? Developing a soy allergy at the age of 26. Can’t eat out anywhere anymore and can’t eat any processed foods…it’s a blessing in disguise, right? <–sarcasm

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