Clippings: Newbie launches lactose intole-rant

The past couple of weeks have brought on quite a few changes for this young reporter who is trying her best to transition from being a college student in Middlebury to being a full-fledged member of the community. And it hasn’t been easy, let me tell you.

Just last week, my position as part of the college’s orientation planning team ended, and my career as a full-time reporter for the paper officially began. I also took my car in for its first-ever repair (since I’ve owned it), started wearing contact lenses, and, oh, discovered that I may be lactose intolerant. That’s what living in Vermont — land of cheese and dairy and everything that is good — for four years will get you, I suppose.

Back in my home state of Kansas, I would drink glass after glass of the ambrosial substance that my stomach, seemingly, can no longer handle. Milk. That was the stuff — skim was a joke; I went 2-percent or greater, or no cigar. Now, I find myself pacing the “organic” aisle at Hannaford’s and spending at least 10 minutes comparing all the different varieties of milk substitutes. I already have a keenly developed aversion to soymilk, thanks to my vegan friend, Molly, so while shopping last weekend I looked, instead, at rice, almond and coconut alternatives. It was a sad day.

The day became even more woebegone when I drenched my Special K in my newly purchased coconut milk only to find that it is a more watery, more bitter version of its soy compatriot. Yuck. I have since given up on my morning milk and cereal, which was formerly the highlight of my day. And I’m not kidding. I’m the girl who always suggests “cereal types” as a round for everyone’s favorite car game, Categories.

Cereal aside, my grumbling, aching stomach has also persuaded me to start avoiding all other dairy derivatives. Yogurt, gone. Ice cream, no more. But worst of all, I have forced myself to eliminate cheese from my diet. This obviously will not last long, but I am determined, at least, to allow my body to be cleansed of all lactate invaders for a few weeks before reintroducing it to my diet. Though Vermont and its cornucopia of Cabot and artisan cheeses tempt me daily, I’ve done pretty well so far.

But I couldn’t do it without help. I’ve been happily surprised at the alternatives and substitutes that I have discovered at the Co-op, like the dairy-free pesto that I most recently purchased, and the nutritional yeast “parmesan cheese” that I bought to go with it. And if I’m not focusing too closely on my meal, it almost tastes like the real thing. Almost.

Likewise, I’ve been pleased to find a wide array of dairy-free options offered at many of the restaurants in town.

It’s always a great moment when I realize that I can still eat a classic BLT with my friends at Two Brothers, and that an Italian sandwich from Noonie’s tastes just as good minus the provolone. That said, it won’t be long before somebody offers me a slice of pizza from Ramunto’s and I cave completely.

So, lactate pills, here I come. But only after my seasonal allergies have calmed down enough to where I can stop relying on my daily dose of generic antihistamine. I guess I should have known that growing up would mean over-medication, but who knew that it would start this early? I suppose getting diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome at age 19 should have been a good sign. And with that, here’s to a lifetime of writing as a career! Starting right here, right now.


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100