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Cheese and Bloating

Tej Parmar wrote:

Hi Georgie, I was just going through your website for the first time and some of your articles. I wanted to ask you about Cabot cheese. I love cheese but I’m noticing more and more that I when I eat it, I get extremely bloated. Admittedly, I throw cheese, in particular mozzarella, on everything, especially veggie burgers and omelets. I also eat paneer (ricotta cheese) curries a few times a week. All in all I get 2 nice size servings of cheese a day. Eggs, plain yogurt are other dairy foods in my daily diet and I don’t react this way. If I switch to Cabot cheese, will I still feel this way or is it more about the amount I eat and portion control? I would like to switch anyway b/c of the fact that there is much less fat in Cabot cheese than in other cheeses.

I am in Toronto, Canada so please let me know where I can find it here. Thanks so much,   Tej

Hi Tej-
I do love Cabot cheese and yes, choosing reduced fat products will help you knock down the fat and calories in your diet. However, whether or not it will help you beat the bloat, I cannot guarantee, becuase it may or may not be a lactose problem.

 Most people who experience bloating after eating dairy products are experiencing symptoms of lactose intolerance. When your body’s own enzyme doesn’t fully digest the lactose, the microbes in your gut will have a fest, producing gas and discomfort for you, possibly accompanied by diarrhea. If this were the case, drinking a glass of plain skim milk would bring on symptoms pretty reliably. Cottage cheese does contain some (about 3 grams per 1/2 cup serving) so if lactose is your problem, the cottage cheese paneer may be the culprit.
Eggs, which are not a dairy food, have no lactose, and mozzarella cheese only a trace, so if lactose intolerance is the problem, these foods should not cause much discomfort. Yogurt, especially plain yogurt, has most of the lactose removed by the bacteria so it is usually easier for people with lactose intolerance to digest than milk. Since Cabot cheese is lactose free, that may be part of a solution. Bear in mind that if you can’t get Cabot cheese where you live, other hard, aged cheeses like cheddar and swiss are very very low in lactose. Lactose-free cottage cheese is avilable from the Lactaid brand here in the states, but I can’t verify that it’s available in Canada or if it’s any good for making paneer.
But if we say that perhaps the issue is NOT lactose, and maybe you have an allergy to dairy, then all milk and dairy products would cause a reaction, including cheese, yogurt, regular milk etc. In that case, look for some nondairy alternatives, such as cheeses made from soy. (From my experience, some of these nondairy cheese products like Daiya brand are quite good, and some are downright awful.) A blood test can confirm if you do have an allergy.
Aside from lactose and dairy allergies, some people find cheese can be downright constipating. Cheese has no fiber and is high in casein, a protein which can bind up the digestive tract. Portion control, and the other foods in your diet can help remedy this situation.
To determine the real issue behind the bloat, try eliminating the cheese temporarily and focusing on a high fiber diet for 7 days with lots of legumes and vegetables, and drinking lots of water. Reintroduce a single serving of a lactose free cheese (Cabot or other cheddar or swiss) and pay attention to how you feel. Change in bathroom habits? Gassy? Bloated? Try again the next day with regular cottage cheese or milk (something with lactose in it) and see if your reaction is any different. This little experiment can help determine if it’s lactose intolerance, a dairy allergy, or cheese-induced constipation that is causing your distress.
And take your results to my little key below:
A. All dairy products make me bloat = possible allergy, might want to get tested or seek nondairy alternatives.
B. ONLY lactose-containing dairy makes me bloat = Choose lactose free cheeses.
C. Cheese especially is altering my bathroom habits (aka constipating me), making me bloat = Reduce portion sizes of cheeses and consume more high fiber fruits, vegetables, beans and grains.
Good Luck! Check back in if you find out what works for you.
Georgie Fear RD

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  • Kai Byles August 9, 2012, 2:38 am

    I have a bit of lactose intolerance and consuming too much milk really gives me an upset stomach. `*;'”

    Take care http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/lecithin-benefits/

  • Mimi Depippo July 31, 2012, 1:38 am

    Bloating is also dependent on the foods that you consume. Always avoid foods that causes bloating like fatty foods. ‘.”*,

    Enjoy your weekend! http://www.healthmedicinelab.com“>

  • Dotty Green March 30, 2011, 6:48 pm

    I also live in Toronto Canada. I have a husband with recently aquired lactose intolerance and don’t know where to find the above-mentioned products. Please advise.

  • Nicole, RD November 11, 2010, 8:50 am

    I love Cabot cheese too. I was wondering reading the reader question if I was wrong all these years not placing eggs in the dairy family. Phew 🙂

  • Regan Jones RD November 8, 2010, 5:06 am

    Great article and response. This is invaluable guidance for Tej and anyone else who might experience the same. Thanks for being so on target with the appropriate steps to take. Hope Tej can now easily find the source of discomfort.