Mozzarella nightmares

I dream about chases, murders, and body snatchers when I consume too much cheese for dinner. Is cheese so hard to digest that your body is doing overkill by keeping you slightly awake?

 

LACTOSE

Milk products were never a problem for me—no matter how high in lactose. I suppose Germany, UK, and Europe, in general, have good quality dairy products.

I hadn’t been in Canada for a year and started to feel bloated after meals, especially after consuming dairy. Twice I puked after eating cream-based pasta, and funnily enough, twice it was served to me as the wrong meal, but I never bothered sending it back.

When cramping and bloating got worse, I finally went to have a test done. I didn’t know why North American physicians had to make the gastrointestinal test so complicated. Instead of a breath test, they took blood samples—three times, if I remember correctly. I think it depends on the clinic and if physicians preferred to check for hydrogen in your breath or glucose in your blood. Still, those lactose beverages were disgusting.

Can you be mildly or severely lactose intolerant? It started with the occasional bout and light cramp, but then, even skimmed milk became intolerable, and I could forget about cream cheese.

 

PROBIOTICS / DIGESTIVE ENZYMES / PSYLLIUM HUSK

For years, I avoided dairy in any form, including cheese and yogurt. However, I wasn’t aware of lactose-free variants, including ice cream. They kept me happy for a while until a friend recommended me probiotics to aid digestion and build more friendly bacteria in my gut. And it had served wonders for years to come. Probiotics became a trend and even came with various combinations.

Yet, it seemed that my digestive system was still in a quandary. It was most likely triggered by stress and a bad diet. I would bring pre-cooked meals to work and always used the microwave to heat things up in a plastic container. I would also eat chicken over a week old (What’s the rule again? Four days for cooked meats?).

I raised my probiotic dose from 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU) to 30 and then to 50. It only got somewhat better, but my gastrointestinal complaints remained. I would be gassy at work after lunch and didn’t know what to do.

The real improvement started when I changed my diet from badly cooked meals to fresh and nutritious food. On top of that, I started taking digestive enzymes (before dinners) and psyllium husk capsules to obtain more fibre.

The new habit had fixed my guts for sure.

I’ve been taking probiotics for about five years (50 billion CFU). I prefer those that only require you to take one a day and enhance women’s health. Another favourite is probiotics containing ashwagandha to control my mood.

Depending on how heavy my dinner is, I’d take a digestive enzyme, which I’d been doing for a year until I thought my guts had built a decent balance. Now I can do without it, but it’s still good to have whenever you know you’ll be gluttonous.

I’d underestimated the benefits of fibre or psyllium husk. It relieves constipation, lowers cholesterol, and regulates blood sugar. Who knew, right?

However, supplements are pricy. I take them when I need them.

 

LOW LACTOSE CHEESE

Consuming low-lactose products have been ok. Lots of gouda and parmesan (since both hardly have any lactose)! Other low-lactose cheeses include bocconcini and feta. Goat cheese is apparently high in lactose, but goat milk’s fat molecules are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

I’m uncertain about mozzarella and cheddar because these cheeses do weigh heavy on my gut.

On an important note, I always thought my guts couldn’t tolerate North American cheese. When I first saw orange-coloured cheddar, I thought they were eating plastic. Perhaps they were, I don’t know.

Ordering cheesy nachos at a sports bar is a thing here. No matter how gross, you can’t stop eating it. Now combine cheddar cheese with corn-based tortilla chips (uhm, nachos) and see how you feel afterwards. And that’s when you have a sensitive gut and haven’t taken a digestive enzyme.

I think they process cheese differently here. The cheese industry in Canada is strange. First off, it’s expensive because of supply-demand and limited permits across the country. More than half of cheese manufacturers are in Québec, and not all their cheeses are good, yet they are overpriced.

We often look for European imports when we want to make nice Italian dishes because we know they have less processed crap.

 

THE MOZZARELLA NIGHTMARES

It all makes sense. Your body works hard digesting food when you’re sleeping, but cheese requires extra work. It’s impossible to sleep well if you’ve eaten heavy food. So, I’m not surprised that you’re not deep asleep when your body is working overtime.

Every other Friday, we’d have a calzone. I like to avoid pizza dishes unless I feel naughty. Or if I think it’s unfair that my partner gets to eat takeout, and I don’t. He has a slightly stronger gut for dairy than me, but somehow, I can eat more than him.

Whenever I eat pizza or a calzone, I take a digestive enzyme to aid digestion. Kombucha is my beverage of choice for heavy meals. The extra probiotics save my life.

When I used to have terrible digestion, I would get night sweats, but luckily, that’s no longer the case. It’s just the nightmares.

You could compare the nightmares to psychological thrillers and horror movies. Recently, I dreamed of Michael Meyers being a pedophile who raped little Jamie (sorry, Danielle Harris). It was a nasty sight, and I couldn’t save her; I wasn’t in the same dimension, yet I could hear the moans and sobs.

In my own dimension, I was being chased by body snatchers. I was in a corporate building that looked like my former workplace in London. I went to see former work colleagues who seemed to be doing ok.

But as soon as I entered the elevator with someone, something horrific happened. It got darker. While heading down, the doors had turned to glass, allowing me to see what was on each floor.

I saw beds lined up on each floor; the lighting was a shade of grey-green, sage-colour. What terrified me the most was that there were dead, half-naked women lying on some of the beds with eyes wide open. They were all big-boobed blondes from Hollywood movies and punk rock videos.

The female person in the elevator turned out to be a body snatcher and tried to attack me before hitting the ground floor. I elbowed her in the neck and broke free.

I found myself in a hotel lobby where a tall brown-haired lobby boy had been waiting for me. He was mute and tried to give me warning signs, indicating that I should hide as someone was after me.

He led me to a laundry chute and opened the lid, gesturing for me to go in there, but it was too tiny. At that moment, another male body snatcher jumped him. Somehow, I was able to miraculously jump into the chute as if I’d shrunk like Alice.

Mind you, this was a harmless dream. I’ve had worse, way worse. And I don’t often get to escape, nor would I ever have anyone that would try to protect me.

Mozzarella nightmares remind me of afternoon naps during which your body isn’t actually in sleeping mode due to daylight. It leads to a heavy state of REM, accompanied by vivid dreams that you’ll never forget.

I sort of grew up with carbohydrate-rich foods (Chinese background, you see. My diet included fried, deep-fried, spicy, etc.), so I can tolerate that stuff better than most. However, I’m trying to reduce my sugar intake: no refined sugar, just honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and dark chocolate.

Cheese is hard to resist for most people. I’d like to know if you have worse mozzarella nightmares than me.

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