Trust your gut, as they say!
From about eight weeks old, Angie Kent couldn’t have breast milk. As she grew older, she realised lactose products were “ruining her whole day”, so she listened to her body and made adjustments.
There are so many lactose-free dairy options out there now. But when Angie Kent was growing up, not so much. There wasn’t even much information about lactose intolerance, which she now realises was the reason she couldn’t take breast milk after about the age of eight weeks and why, after noticing how eating regular dairy products brought on discomfort and pain, she made a “conscious effort” to research her symptoms and seek medical advice.
Body+Soul: You’ve spoken often about your journey with being a coeliac, but not of your lactose intolerance – why is that?
Angie Kent: Coeliac disease can be a life-threatening disease for many people and I felt it was important to bring attention to how serious this intolerance is. By comparison, for most people, lactose intolerance symptoms can often be managed.
How does drinking/eating lactose make you feel? What are the major symptoms for you?
Eating and drinking lactose gives me overall discomfort. I feel as if my digestive issues have the power to ruin my whole day. I don’t feel my best, and I don’t feel like I can be relaxed or active due to my physical pain from bloating, toilet troubles, and skin breakouts.
When did you first learn of your intolerance, and how did you get diagnosed?
I was a colicky baby and was not able to have breast milk from eight weeks old. As a child, there wasn’t much education around being lactose intolerant and as I got older I could no longer deal with the pain and needed to do something about it.
I started noticing a pattern after eating dairy and experiencing consistent symptoms, so I made a conscious effort to listen to my body, researched my symptoms, and learnt more about lactose intolerance, and then sought medical professional advice.
How did avoiding lactose affect your social life/general diet/ability to eat what you wanted/mood?
I find catering to my dietary restrictions these days is much easier with the increased number of alternative milk and lactose-free options, as well as the amazing vegan products that are now on the market.
Being lactose intolerant has just made me more conscious of what I am putting in my body, but I don’t feel like I have to make major sacrifices in my life.
How has knowing about your intolerance improved or changed your general wellbeing?
My overall well-being improved when I got a handle on my symptoms and felt more myself again. I certainly know when something my body doesn’t agree with has snuck into my food, because all hell breaks loose with all different types of symptoms. I’m a sensitive soul.
What is the worst thing possible for you to eat/drink for your lactose intolerance?
I don’t consume any dairy milk, yoghurts or creams because of my intolerances but I am a sucker for cheeses! With so many lactose-free dairy products out there, I can now enjoy lactose-free cheese without all the stress on my body physically and mentally. If you’re feeding your gut something it can’t process or handle, your mental health suffers too. It’s important to know your gut is your second brain. Why do you think people say ‘trust your gut’ so often?!
What non-dairy and dairy alternatives are you able to eat with your lactose intolerance?
So many dairy products have lactose free options nowadays that I don’t necessarily have to seek dairy alternatives, my favourite brand is Liddells. But knowing that most coffee shops always have a range of reliable dairy-free alternatives always makes things really easy for me.
What does your average day on a plate look like now?
I am mainly veggie-based so I will make myself a smoothie in the morning with my herbs, supplements powders, dairy-free yoghurt, bananas, blueberries, and almond milk.
For lunch I try to have a salad with lots of greens and maybe some kind of seafood. Dinner I love to make myself a veggie dish or fish curry! The options are endless.
For snacks, I can now snack on some lactose-free cheese singles, avocado, and tomato with rice crackers. I am mad about it! Plus lots and lots of herbal teas.