Juice cleanses and gluten-free diets are all-the-rage for those attempting to become “healthy” or start a career as a semi-successful health and fitness blogger. We’re all guilty of either trying or thinking about trying out these new fad diets because they could work, right?
People sign up for restrictive “diets” (i.e. they drink only lemon water for four days and vow to forget bread for the remainder of their lives) because they’re supposedly trying to better themselves... or increase their follower count.
I’m sure each and every one of them cheats nonstop because why not? What’s stopping them from downing a deep dish pizza with extra cheese after an excruciating cayenne-pepper-water cleanse? Absolutely nothing.
Now, imagine if you actually couldn’t eat what you wanted because, if you did, the bathroom would become a hot spot five minutes after digestion. Or you’d need to curl into the fetal position to calm numbing stomach pains.
Those reactions are part of everyday life for the lactose intolerant. This is a group of which I am unfortunately a member, in the mildest sense. It’s officially the worst club ever.
Life has never been more confusing and downright awful. Losing cheese has been more difficult to comprehend than not being loved.
After my discovery of said “dairy issues,” I started taking precautions to avoid the disgusting symptoms. That doesn’t mean I don’t have slip-ups every now and then (or nearly every day). We are all guilty of drunkenly devouring pizza at 3 am.
Here are some of the biggest realizations I’ve had after being forced to give up everything that matters. (Okay, FINE, dairy isn’t everything.) Consider it advice from a friend.
1. Pizza is irrelevant.
I never thought I’d utter (or type) those words in my entire life, but it’s depressingly true. America’s favorite meal isn’t the same without cheese. It’s just not.
What’s the point of even doing it without the primary ingredient? Some pizza joints offer a vegan cheese alternative, but those miracle workers are few and far between. It’s better to give up what you love than to downgrade and be unhappy.
2. You’re an accidental vegan.
I don’t know if this is apparent, but dairy is an animal byproduct. I was blissfully unaware until I had to switch up my shopping habits. Vegan options have become a haven.
Try going vegan, and give your body a chance to feel all-natural, at least for a bit. I guess I’m healthier now. Unhappier, but healthier.
3. Butter can't sit with us.
It’s disconcerting to realize that butter doesn’t count as a carb. It’s a dairy product that finds its way into every single piece of food in existence.
Whether it’s offered as a topping for the always-delicious bread basket, atop movie theater popcorn or sliding off a tall stack of pancakes, butter no longer has a place in your stomach.
Prepare for blander meals and a longing for the finer, butter-drizzled things.
4. Everything is more expensive.
I’m convinced grocery shopping is on par with walking over fire. The grocery store steals your money and confidence, and mimics a maze of all the things you can’t eat or afford.
The funny thing about this whole accidental vegan lifestyle is the lack of grocery stores that offer these alternative options. It’s despicable.
Also, every soy and almond product is more costly than its dairy-packed counterpart. Prepare your wallet for the heftier price tags and get acquainted with coupons.
5. You analyze the ingredient list.
For those of you not a part of the eating clean craze, you need to start taking a peek at those pesky ingredient lists. There is some seriously weird sh*t hiding in those processed sugar-infested goodies.
As a slightly lactose intolerant alien, looking at these lists is a must. Just an FYI: Non-dairy creamer is a lie. Just check the label.
Don’t be so trusting of substitutes until you’ve read the fine print. Schedule a solid chunk of time to spend in the store because this takes a while.
6. Ordering food is pure torture.
Servers hate your huge number of questions. Chefs hate your constant substitutions. You hate your stupid stomach. It’s a never-ending cycle of misery when attempting to eat out.
Every restaurant has whipped up a minuscule list of vegan entrees which sometimes sound questionable, but at least there’s something. This is another instance where you’ll really notice the absence of cheese.
To avoid the lack of options, I suggest moving to a city with plenty of vegan and all-natural restaurants. It’s an easy solution.
7. You’re always carrying pills.
You’re the newest brand of pill popper. At least one a day to keep the sh*t from (literally) hitting the fan. You will always be aware of the location of your lactase pills. It’s a side effect of this assault on your eating habits.
Every single time any dairy is about to reach your lips, in goes a pill. You also have to decide whether to carry the pills at all times or give up dairy completely and live a pill-free existence.
It’s a question you’ll revisit almost daily because going cold turkey is unbearable. I speak from experience.
8. The bathroom is heaven.
I know exactly where the closest bathroom is right now. Can you say the same?
For your sake, I really hope not. Having to be vigilant when entering a new place is bizarre and more than a little odd.
I’m always ready to hit the stall if the call comes, which it invariably does. I look forward to the day that sustenance doesn’t evacuate my body with the force of a firehose.
On a positive note, the bathroom becomes a second home, of sorts. You start playing Sudoku on expert, keep books and magazines strategically placed in there and even start writing emails from the porcelain perch.
It’s a place of power. If you must use it frequently, embrace its possibility.