From Ask Lutz

Lactose Intolerant?

Dear Lisa,

All of my life, I have loved cheese indiscriminately (well, okay, so I do pass on the Swiss cheese cubes on the party tray until I have exhausted all other possible cheese sources. But really, who doesn't?)

But recently, I am starting to have to face the fact that I may be lactose intolerant.

Since I was self-diagnosed, I have tried to be very good about cheese. But often I find that I just can't help myself.

Please Help.

Distressed in San Francisco


Dear Distressed,

If I had ten bucks for every time somebody told me they were lactose intolerant, I could join the high rollers table in Vegas and lose some serious money. Hmmm. You know what? I think I’m going to start charging people for telling me that they are lactose intolerant. Ten dollars does seem a bit steep, so I’ll make it five. But that’s five a pop, not five per person. So, if you tell me you’re lactose intolerant two times in a conversation, that’s ten dollars and no future conversation is exempt from the lactose intolerant surcharge. Please remember this in the future because I’ve decided not to provide a grace period. And make sure you carry small bills on you, because I don’t like giving change.

You may be wondering why I am so hostile against people who give me the lactose intolerant sob story. Well, I’ll tell you: The number of people who are in fact L.I. (lactose intolerant, for those slow on the uptake) is fractional compared to the number of people who claim to be. Forgive me, but I find this annoying. Imagine if every Tom, Dick, and Harry started claiming they had the Bubonic Plague. That is not fair to the people who actually have the plague. Since I don’t know you, I hardly think it’s proper for me to accuse you of being a liar, so I’m NOT going to say that you’re lying about being L.I. But in general, I’m against non-doctors self-diagnosing. I mean, the number of times I self-diagnosed a brain tumor is positively unreal. (Please note: I do not have nor have ever had a brain tumor.)

Unfortunately, I feel obligated to offer you more information on Lactose Intolerance. Here’s a Lactose Intolerant Website* that I located, but the fact is, I think the Internet is not a good place for the hypochondriacs. And I would prefer you did NOT look at this website. But if you insist on doing some amateur research and believing that you are, in fact, lactose intolerant, please eventually consult an allergist or a gastroenterologist to confirm. I am neither of these, for the record.

Distressed, if cheese doesn’t agree with you, stay away from it. That's the soundest advice I can give. I mean, what do you want from me, really? Is it that you love cheese so much, but desperately want to avoid it and find yourself so powerfully drawn to this aged dairy product that you are virtually helpless? If that is the case, you must condition yourself to dislike cheese. Here are some behavioral modification techniques: Have a friend pinch you really, really, really hard while you’re eating a slice of brie; dress up a block of sharp cheddar as your sworn enemy and discuss some of your issues with it—its silence will infuriate you; eat cheese only with chopped liver; organize a cheese exorcism; and if all else fails, there’s probably a 12 step program out there.

Lastly, I think it’s important to mention that Biz Stone, Genius is a vegan and we don’t really recommend cheese or chopped liver. Why don’t you check out How to make a Vegan Delux Pizza [no longer online, sorry] which involves no cheese at all, but lots of other stuff. I personally have had the pleasure of dining at Genius Labs (where dairy products are not consumed) and not once did Biz or Livia complain to me about being lactose intolerant and, I must say, they are richer for that. Approximately ten dollars richer.

I hope I have been some help to you, Distressed. Please Ask Lutz again if you get over the cheese problem and got something new to talk about.

Best Wishes,


*You may have trouble linking to this site. But I think that's for the best.

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