Lactose Intolerance: The Love Hate Relationship With Cheese

Before I was diagnosed with celiac disease — I blamed all of my issues on the dairy. It’s funny looking back now because I put all the blame on my milk (even though it was almond milk) when I ate a bowl of honey nut cheerios. Over ten years ago - it was the “source of all my problems”.

Though, I wasn’t right — dairy and I still maintain a love, hate relationship. Definitely hot and cold.

I would go for a while eating greek yogurt feeling okay — then other times I’d have stretches, especially after a whole30, when I would reintroduce it after going without dairy for weeks, and my stomach would blow up like a balloon. These days, I tend to not eat it at all.

This week however - I wanted to do something different with my chicken. I wanted to stuff it. So I loaded it with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and guess what CHEESE.

I know what you’re thinking — WHY? HOW? WTF dude?

Yeah I know — but hear me out. I’m not completely mad. You see some cheeses are naturally lactose free (or are very very light in lactose) that people like me can enjoy.

Pass the Cheese Please —

Did you know roughly 65% of the population is sensitive to dairy? Unfortunately the odds are ever in our favor — we, celiacs, more often not, are lactose intolerant or will develop a dairy allergy at some point in our lifetimes…

However, we’re in luck! Because we have options that are light - in fact - hardly traceable in lactose.


What is Lactose?

Lactose is a naturally occurring disaccharide sugar present in milk, that is transmitted to some degree in nearly all dairy products. AKA the higher the lactates (sugar) the more likely you’ll get the runs, huns.

Turns out, the fresher the cheese - so think soft stuff like feta/goat cheese - the more lactates it has. That means, harder, aged cheeses tend to have less of an impact on our stomachs. Another rule of thumb to note — the higher the fat content, generally the lower the lactose.

Most experts say to play it safe, we should aim for cheeses with less than 2-3% sugar (lactose) per serving (in moderation). Read your labels — i mean come on as a celiac we’re used to that by now, right?


  • Muenster: 0-1.1% lactose range

  • Camembert: 0-1.8% lactose range

  • Brie: 0-2% lactose range

  • Cheddar: 0-2.1% lactose range

  • Provolone: 0-2.1% lactose range

  • Gouda: 0-2.2% lactose range

  • Blue: 0-2.5% lactose range

  • Parmesan: 0-3.2% lactose range

  • Swiss: 0-3.4% lactose range

Mind blown — right? Now that doesn’t mean you can eat your weight in cheddar and not feel like death after. But hey - you can enjoy it with a glass of wine or nibble on a few pieces when you encounter a charcuterie board every now and then — BTW you’ve got to try my GF Cheese plate (shameless plug).

So next time someone calls you out on eating a little bit of cheese — look at em and say “ you gouda brie kidding me! Dis cheese is lactose free!” Sorry had to.