How can I maintain a balanced diet?
Milk and dairy products are a major source of calcium, an essential nutrient for the growth and repair of bones and teeth throughout life. Calcium is also essential for blood to clot normally, muscles and nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally.
People who are lactose-intolerant don't necessarily have to consume milk and dairy products to get the calcium they need to maintain proper nutrition.
If you have trouble consuming enough calcium-rich foods in your daily diet, talk to your healthcare provider or a Registered Dietitian about taking a calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement will depend on how much calcium you are consuming through food sources.
The following foods contain calcium:
- Dried beans
- Calcium-fortified orange juice
- Calcium-fortified soy milk
- Salmon, canned
A lactose-free diet should be followed for 2 weeks. If symptoms have subsided after the 2-week strict diet, gradually add foods with lactose back into the diet slowly and monitor tolerance. You may be able to tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose at one time. The following lists can be used to help determine what foods to try in your diet:
Lactose content of milk and milk products
The following foods contain approximately 5-8 grams of lactose:
Milk (whole, reduced fat, fat-free, buttermilk): 1/2 cup
Condensed milk: 3 tbsp.
Evaporated milk: 1/4
Cheese spread: 2 oz.
Cottage cheese: 3/4
Ricotta cheese: 3/4
Half-and-Half: 1/2 cup
Yogurt, plain: 1/2 cup
Ice cream: 3/4 cup
Ice milk: 3/4 cup
Sour cream: 1/2 cup
Heavy cream: 1/2 cup
The following foods contain approximately 0-2 grams of lactose:
Milk, treated with lactase enzyme: 1/2 cup
Sherbet: 1/2 cup
Aged cheese (such as blue, brick, cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan): 1-2 oz.
Processed cheese: 1 oz.
Butter or margarine: 1 tsp.
The following ingredients come from milk and do not contain lactose:
- Lactic acid
Tips for adding lactose foods back after a lactose diet:
- Gradually add small amounts of food and drinks that contain lactose to determine your tolerance level. You may be able to tolerate up to 1/2 cup of milk or the equivalent with each meal.
- Drink milk in servings of one cup or less.
- Try hard cheeses that are low in lactose, like cheddar.
- Drink milk with a meal or with other foods.
- Try yogurt or Greek yogurt with active cultures. You may be able to digest yogurt better than milk. Your own tolerance may vary depending on the brand. Frozen yogurt may not be tolerated as well as yogurt.
- Substitute lactose-reduced dairy products and 100% lactose-free milk for regular dairy products. These products are located in the dairy section of most supermarkets.
- The lactose enzyme is also available in tablet form and will help you to tolerate foods containing lactose. Right before eating, take 1-3 tablets, depending upon your lactose intolerance. Some over-the-counter enzyme products that are available include Lactaid®, Lactrace®, Dairy Ease®, and Sure-Lac®.
- Many canned nutritional supplements (such as Ensure®, Boost®) are lactose-free. Product labels should be checked.