Can I Still Eat Cheese?

One of the things I had many people telling me when I first developed and was diagnosed with IBS was I would have to give up most or all dairy products. I was appalled. As a child, cheese was one of the few foods that could satiate my picky palate. And as an adolescent who first forayed into vegetarianism, cheese was my stalwart staple (most on pizza and baked ziti). As an adult who still forsakes meat, cheese has remained my only daily dose of animal protein. I also loved milk--I drank entire glasses of it and also put generous helpings of it in my morning cereal and tea or coffee (though I would give up the latter in my early 20s). But I gave up cow milk eventually--opting for almond- or rice-based alternatives instead.

Low FODMAP cheese for IBS

But I still eat cheese. Here's what I've learned though: not all cheese is the same. For instance, different cheeses can be high or low FODMAP. The low-FODMAP cheeses--that is, the ones less likely to flare IBS symptoms--includes cottage cheese, cheddar and mozzarella (among others). Higher FODMAP cheeses can include gouda and ricotta.

Lactose-free and low-fat cheese for IBS

However, FODMAPs aren't the only thing that can trigger IBS. Lactose and fat content can cause problems as well. Luckily, there are lactose-free cheeses and cheeses that are lower fat. I personally do better with cream cheese, cheddar, and mozzarella, but not as well with gouda, brie and some other soft cheeses. I also eat cheese that is organic to avoid hormones, which can also aggravate my endometriosis and in turn, my IBS. And finally, I find goat cheese is sometimes more easily digestible than cheese made of cow milk, probably because they have smaller proteins.

I also exercise moderation in eating cheese (as I do with everything), because with IBS, overdoing anything can tip me in one direction or the other. I usually only have cheese with lunch and sometimes dinner.

How about you? Does cheese help or hurt your IBS and if so, which kinds? Share in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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