With lactose intolerance varying in frequency across different regions of the world, and people of East Asian, West African, Arab, Greek and Italian descent being the most affected by this condition, it comes as no surprise that it is quite common in Egypt. So, in case you happen to be lactose intolerant, know someone who is, or are just affected by ingesting lactose to some extent, here are a few alternatives you can check out, so that you don’t have to give up having a healthy diet, or satisfying your cravings.
First off, let’s just address the elephant in the room. There has been a significant rise in the number of alternatives to milk that are lactose-free in the country lately, and we have not only lactose intolerance to thank for that, but also the recent increase in veganism. This has led to products such as almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk, to be quite common, and while they tend to have less (or even no) natural calcium, the products you’ll find in supermarkets are almost always fortified with calcium.
Just make sure whatever kind of milk you decide to try out suits any diet you may be following, since coconut milk, for example, has a lot of saturated fat, and almond milk honestly just tastes a bit weird. I mean it’s like you’re eating an almond but it’s a liquid. Personally not the biggest fan.
There’s also the pretty obvious option of going for regular cow milk which is labeled as lactose-free. This milk has lactase added to it (the enzyme that digests lactose) so it doesn’t create any issues when ingested if you’re lactose intolerant.
Before the alternatives, I think it’s worth pointing out that butter in and of itself does not contain a large amount of lactose, so if your symptoms are usually mild, try experimenting with this one and see if it really makes a difference.
Now, other than the obvious olive oil for cooking, coconut oil can be used for more purposes, kind of like butter. It’s especially good for frying and high temperatures, but when kept in the fridge it can also have a very similar consistency to butter, and can serve as a great alternative to butter toast when spread.
Yoghurt is usually considered to have less of an effect on lactose intolerant individuals, since the live bacteria in yoghurt produce lactase, significantly reducing its lactose contents, but you should generally be focusing on yoghurt with a “probiotic” label. Of course, it still depends on each specific situation, since how much lactose someone can or can’t tolerate differs greatly amongst people.
Unfortunately, frozen yoghurt – which does not contain live bacteria – is not considered a good option since it does contain a large amount of lactose. On the upside though, Greek yoghurt is even better than regular yoghurt, so that’s maybe an alternative to frozen yoghurt?
This one is pretty self-explanatory but I thought I’d mention it anyway. If ice cream is labeled as lactose-free, or dairy-free; ie. it’s made using one of the types of milk I’ve previously mentioned, you’re good to go.
With the same concept as yoghurt, fermented cheese which contains bacteria is usually less of an issue than regular cheese. Examples of this include blue cheese, Parmesan and Swiss. Goat cheese is also often found to be better to deal with, so this is again worth experimenting in small amounts.
Lastly, you could again – pretty obviously – go for non-dairy cheese, but they do often have very different contents than regular cheese, so this also means you need to make sure it’s satisfying your diet.
This isn’t really that huge of an alternative, but dark chocolate is usually a much more friendly option than milk chocolate – as the latter name implies.
Whatever you end up going for, having smaller portions, or having lactose-free food alongside food that contains a small amount of lactose will ease the symptoms, so try it all out, and choose whatever makes you feel less nauseous.