Diet for Lactose Intolerance

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is the name of the sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance occurs when your body can’t break down all of the lactose in the foods you eat. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  • Diarrhea

  • Gas

  • Bloating

  • Stomach pain

  • Stomach cramps

What foods contain lactose?

Lactose is found in dairy products such as:

  • Milk

  • Cheese

  • Yogurt

  • Ice cream

  • Sherbet

Items on a food label that contain lactose:

  • Milk

  • Milk solids

  • Skim milk powder

  • Cream

  • Buttermilk

  • Malted milk

  • Whey lactose

  • Curds

  • Margarine

Some foods that may have hidden sources of lactose:

  • Breads

  • Candy

  • Cookies

  • Cold cuts

  • Hot dogs

  • Bologna

  • Sauces and gravies

  • Dessert mixes

  • Cream soup

  • Frostings

  • Chocolate drink mixes

  • Salad dressing

Living with lactose intolerance

  • Take small amounts. In most cases you don’t need to remove all dairy foods from your diet. You may be able to eat or drink small amounts of dairy products without having any symptoms. It can be helpful to keep a food diary. Keep track of what you eat and drink, and write down when you have symptoms.

  • Try lactose-free and reduced-lactose products. There are many lactose-free and lactose-reduced dairy products available, including milk, ice cream, and cheeses. These can allow you to still enjoy dairy products. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian about these products.

  • Take lactase enzyme supplements. These supplements are available over the counter. Taking the advised dose with your first drink or bite of a dairy product can help prevent symptoms. Talk with your provider about these supplements.

How are the body's calcium and vitamin D needs met?

Calcium and vitamin D are needed for strong bones and teeth. If you are not using milk or milk products, you may not be getting enough calcium and vitamin D from your diet. Ask your provider or dietitian for more information about your body's calcium and vitamin D needs.

The following are good sources of calcium:

300 mg calcium

150 mg calcium

100 mg calcium

4 ounces canned salmon

2 ounces canned sardines

2/3 cup broccoli

1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice

1/2 cup turnip greens, kale, or collards

1/2 cup okra

1/4 cup almonds

1/2 cup tofu

5 ounces shrimp

1 cup yogurt

1 1/2 cups dried beans

2 cups cabbage

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