Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lactose Intolerance in Dairy Paradise

It is not uncommon for people of Chinese descent to have problems with lactose allergy (most common in babies and young children) or lactose intolerance (which comes on in childhood and persists through adulthood). JieJie has a mildly bad reaction when there's too much dairy making its way through her system. We used to handle that with soy milk until MeiMei came along and proved allergic to the protein in legumes. Our compromise, rather than having four kinds of milk in the house, was lactose free cow's milk, something readily available at home in Virgnia.

Here in Antwerp, and indeed in much of Europe, you can find many wonderful dairy products. The butter is wonderful, spreadable right from the fridge. The types of cheese we can try are nearly endless. So far my favorites are young Gouda and Leerdamer. And can we talk yogurt? There aren't yogurt sections here, there are yogurt AISLES. You can get drinkable yogurt, pourable plain yogurt, fruity yogurt, diet yogurt, tiny little shots of probiotic yogurt to promote digestive health, yogurt tiramisu, kids' yogurt, snack yogurt in a tube, Fristi yogurt and fruit drink in a juice box...and both girls LOVE yogurt.

JieJie would eat yogurt and cheese til the cows come home, and then she'd ask said cows for some milk. Poor thing, she loves the thing that causes some pretty bad lower digestive tract issues, not to get too graphic about it.

I thought well, at least we can get lactose free milk, but it was really hard to find initially. Most milk is not stored cold in a dairy case, but is sealed until needed--if you're familiar with Parmalat, or any of the vacuum sealed soy milk products, you get the picture. There's a whole milk aisle of different products, and I finally found in one little corner of the Super GB on the Groenplats a section of "lactosevrij" milk from Finland, so that's what we've been buying. It's actually pronounced like lactose-free, since the v is more of an f sound and the j is like a y.

Problem solved, and JieJie's little system seems to have settled down, as long as we don't go overboard with cheese and yogurt. Now if only the bean allergy weren't keeping us from getting cans of cassoulet...so tempting!

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