Lactose Intolerance Diet

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk. This milk sugar is found in every kind of milk, whether from goats, cows, or from humans. As babies we have an enzyme called lactase, that will digest the lactose. However many people produce less and less of the enzyme as they grow into adulthood. The Lactose can no longer be properly digested, and remains in the intestine – encouraging the growth of bacterial colonies.

Symptoms include anything from stomach-ache, severe cramps, diarrhea, and flatulence. Severity of Lactose intolerance differs from person to person. For some, milk and dairy products must be eliminated completely, – for others they need only be restricted.

Lactose Free Diet – Foods to Avoid




lactose-intollerance-dietThe following foods contain the same amount of lactose as half a cup of milk:

  • Condensed milk (2 tablespoons)
  • Evaporated milk (1/4 cup)
  • Processed cheese (85 g)
  • Sour cream (1/2 cup)
  • Yogurt (1/2 cup)
  • Ice Cream (1/2 cup)

These foods contain small amounts of lactose, and can be tolerated by most people:

  • Butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Cheese (cheddar, swiss, etc)

There are some that experience symptoms from eating breads or breakfast cereals (which may contain a small amount of lactose). In this situation ingredient labels must be read very carefully – even foods like chocolate, and cordials can contain lactose as a sweetener).

Intolerance or Allergy?

Calcium Intake

One of the biggest issues with a reduced lactose, or lactose-free diet is maintaining adequate calcium levels. Fortunately dairy is not the only major source of available calcium.

VegetablesCalcium ContentLactose Content
Calcium-fortified orange juice, 1 cup308-344 mg0
Sardines, with edible bones, 3 oz.270 mg0
Salmon, canned, with edible bones, 3 oz.205 mg0
Soymilk, fortified, 1 cup200 mg0
Broccoli (raw), 1 cup90 mg0
Orange, 1 medium50 mg0
Pinto beans, 1/2 cup40 mg0
Tuna, canned, 3 oz.10 mg0
Lettuce greens, 1/2 cup10 mg0
Dairy Foods
Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup415 mg5g
Milk, reduced fat, 1 cup295 mg11g
Swiss cheese, 1 oz.270 mg1g
Ice cream, 1/2 cup85 mg6g
Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup75 mg2-3g

Lactose-Free Diet Guidelines

On completely lactose free diet, calcium supplements may be required. Many people also consume soy bean products – such as soy milk, and soy cheese. Lactase enzyme is available in tablet and liquid form, and when added to milk, allows the lactose to break down.

Most foods can be enjoyed on a Lactose-free diet; red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, mushrooms, fruit, vegetables, grains (rice, pasta, etc).

All processed foods (baked goods, cookies, desserts, etc) must be carefully checked. There are also a wide variety of cow’s milk alternatives flooding the market place, so find one that suits your tastes and nutrition goals.

Look for Lactose Free recipes here.

Lactose Intolerance Diet
Click Here to try
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Bellynha

    Hi CarolineI too have a gluten ialcternnoe been having wheat free stuff for ages but was still getting bloatedness and cramps so discovered Lactofree and decided to see if I am also lactose intolerant. What a difference! My bloatedness has gone and it only reappears if I inadvertantly have anything with cows milk or wheat. It is a nightmare I have to say, to find food I can actually eat but I do love the Lactofree range and have had all of their foods..tastes fine( in fact my partner had the cream on strawberries the other day and never noticed it was the Lactofree one ! . My local Asda has sold out of the yoghurts in particular!! I wish you well and hope you get sorted cannot praise the Lactofree range highly enough hope they come up with more products!

  • Myra Jones

    Great grandson diagnosed with dairy intolerance, a month ago. Would appreciate diet suggestions.

  • Kathleen Egan

    I would really like some good lactose free diet advice.

    • Virginia Street

      Help! I don’t know what to eat anymore. Please advise me. ::is almond milk lactose free?

      • Tina

        Almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk and soy milk are all lactose free. The sweetened versions taste better but also have more calories. Silk even has soy egg nog out now. Plus, there are some excellent ice creams based on almond, rice, coconut or soy milks.

      • Jen

        Yes, almond milk is lactose free- as is coconut milk! I believe soy milk and soy products are fine as well, but I am positive about the first two :).

  • Lorrie

    my 3.5year old son cant have dairy products. if he does, he gets agressive.ive had to fight the the dr’s because they keep telling me he’s not truley alactose intollerant, which in a way he’s not because he doesnt have the same symptoms.
    but he bites and kicks and hits more when he has dairy products….

    • Amanda

      I’ve heard of kids on the autism spectrum can react poorly to some additive that is added to lowfat and nonfat milks. My professor can only give her daughter while milk for this reason. Maybe it is not the lactose but something else commonly found in dairy that your son is reacting to.

  • sinead h

    im 17 year old female and since the beggining of the year have suffered a constant bloating feeling, i kept going to the doctor first diagnosed with a possible ulcer, i got checked and then was told it was a touch of ibs.i went along with this for as i know i began to suffer most symtoms during the summer months,my mum wanting an answer gave me a homemade pazza covered in cheese to test for lactose intolerence. i suffered terribly so now since everytime i touch dairy i’d get a bad stomach pain straight away sort of like an allergy.but i found if i touch anything unhealthy i’d get an reaction so is lactose in everything?

    • Caitlin

      Hey, I am 25 and have been lactose intolerant since I was 19. Eating any amount of dairy effects me a lot (we all know what that means..), so I have to read ingredient labels on most foods. When I started doing this, I was really surprised to find milk products in everything from vitamins to granola bars. I avoid anything that has milk, dry milk product, caesin, and whey. A lot of foods will not actually list dairy in the ingredients, but will still say “Contains Milk” somewhere on the label. Yes, this is really frustrating, but it is worth it.

      • Beverly

        Hi, I have been lactose intolerant since I 16 and now I am 41 and I still have trouble with my tummy. All dairy makes my tummy go nuts. Right now it has been getting worse and mean I get good bowel movements and then it goes to diarrhea.Trying to find out more need help.

  • marie

    hi, im a 15 year old female and i have alot of problems with being lactose and tolerant. i cant eat things my friends do like icecream etc. because i get such severe stomache pains.

    • Margail

      I have been tested for lactose intolerance and am severely intolerant. It is extremely uncomfortable if I eat anything with milk or any other products that contain milk, whey, casein, milk solids, etc. There is a long list of foods to avoid. It is fairly difficult to find foods that I can tolerate so I purchased a book called “Go Dairy Free”. It is very informative and will help you understand exactly what our bodies are experiencing and what you must do if you want to avoid the many discomforts that we can experience if we eat the wrong foods. You can also develop bacterial overgrowth in your intestines and have to be treated with antibiotics, which I was. Since eliminating lactose I am like a new person but do know if I mistakenly eat a food that has lactose; it causes a miserable day or two. I also was prescribed to take a digestive aide called Align. The doctor made me stop the probiotics I was taking as it was too much for my system. I admit it is difficult giving up foods you love and changing your life but my intestinal track is a whole lot happier and much more comfortable if I treat it right by not eating what it can’t digest. I hope those of you suffering as I did will appreciate the information I have shared.

      • todd

        hello Iam in the midst of finding a daily diet plan that i can use for this lactose/ bloating issue i have. ….u said that you use Align, Do you still & is it worth using…… Any help would be appreciated……

    • Kiara

      I am also a 15 year-old girl who is lactose intolerant. -.- It’s lame I know! But you should just go to CVS and ask for pills for people with lactose intolerance. Just take it before you eat dairy. :) Oh and Lactaid milk is a great option for replacing milk. It’s regular milk with absolutely no lactose in it, you can buy it at Ralph’s.

  • BarbS

    Oh my! DHIARREAR? I thought that was a new kind of disease.

    I have recently noticed my intolerance to lactose so I’m learning more and more. I noticed that I became very “windy” as they say over the last 10 weeks as I am following a very clean diet to lose weight. I knew adding more vegetables to my diet would cause this however it has become very bad. Once I started to eliminate the dairy it’s showing signs of improvement however I just can’t seem to give up the greek yogurt. I’ve decided to eat this in smaller amounts.I find all the information very interesting as to why and what happens once you ingest lactose. The over the counter medications do nothing to help my situation.

  • Clare

    I discovered I was lactose intolerant some time ago. I found a lactase enzyme tablet ‘Prolactazyme Forte’ really helps me, although I’d previously tried things such as Lactaid to no effect. These are available in the UK from a company called Food Reactions and definitely worth a try.

    Shop bought bread, I find, can really cause me problems. But the one thing on your list I would disagree with is yogurt. Standard yogurt products, due to the way they are cultured are usually quite low in lactose and they generally don’t affect me. The ones I steer clear of are the probiotics etc which are absolutely dreadful (all the more surprising given the spin they put on their commercials!)

    • Clare

      With regard to the yogurt, what I should have said is that the culturing process creates lactase, hence the yogurt, kind of, digests the lactose itself

  • Anver

    I am a 47year old male .I am lactose intolerant and struggle with bloatedness .If i consume high fiber cereal and bread than i am constipated .I am full of winds and constantly constipated .

    • Kansas

      Lots of fruit! Fruits help you go to the bathroom.i myself have had problems with constipation. And also WATER! Hot tea with benefiber just learn to balance your foods and stay away from dairy

  • sarah

    Is it normal to have lower back pain with the belly pain if you are lactose intolerant?

  • mandi

    I have had severe diarrhea, cramping, bloating, gas, morning nausea since my 12 year old son was born… I have had a history of alcoholism in my past and always thought the alcoholism was the problem for my constant pain. I have been sober for five years and I am still suffering from these symptoms on a daily basis. I have been to the doctor several times and have been given several different suggestions and prescriptions but nothing seems to help. In two days I am going to challenge myself to go lactose free for two weeks and see if I feel any better. The way I feel is unbearable and am going to see if it works. I live in Wisconsin and dairy products are part of my everyday life. This will truly be difficult!!!!

  • Gemini

    I have had this for 30 years.(37 now) and I try to avoid lactose in general. My stomach is half the size and no gas. Whenever I go to a party I take an immodium before and have no stomach issues. I can then eat anything without having to find a toilet but it puts my mood down the next day. Then I take claratin which makes me feel 1000 times better. I don’t know it works for me. Another tip: Try pizza without cheese it’s good. Any restaurant/delivery will make it for you. Add some extra toppings. One love people I know how you feel!

  • JIm Bean

    Hi Javanni
    I wouldn’t be surpised if you have developed an intolerance while pregnant. I find when i fall ill my lactose intolerance becames very apprant. Reserach into Lactase and how the body produces it, it will clear things up of why and how!

  • Drake Bell

    I need a diet plan of dairy-free!! I have had diahrea and gas and nausea!! HELP!! It’s true pain…

  • Javanni

    Developing lactose-intolerance in 2nd temseitrr of pregnancy?I am 17 weeks into my pregnancy. The last 2 weeks have not been fun. I usually drink milk daily, and i enjoy cheese and other dairy products. 1-2 weeks ago, i became very bloated, severe cramps, diarrhea the whole day, and LOTS of gas. Has anyone heard of developing lactose intolerance? Or maybe i was already mildly sensitive before and now i cannot tolerate it? I read that the digestive system slows down, and maybe certain food does not absorb now that my system is slower. Any thoughts? Any links?

    • TraceM

      I was told when I was pregnant that I was experiencing morning sickness. Four years late I have now found out that I am lactose intolerant…

  • Shell

    to SG, it may be an idea for your mother-in-law to ask the doctors to test her for chrone’s diesase, my sister had a similar problem for years, now they have operated she is a lot better and doesnt have to find toilets all the time.
    i have lactose intolerace and im just trying to see if there is a diet where i can loose weight as well as covering the lactose intolerance and currently investigating calicum replacements as im having problems with my teeth which i have been told may relate to my lactose intolerance

  • Nette

    Many people with Celiac Disease or a wheat intolerance have been misdiagnosed with IBS. Try eliminating wheat (or wheat, rye, barley, oats) from your diet for a week. If it is wheat, you will feel better before the week is over. Celiac Disease can be tested by simple blood test, then confirmed by gastro endoscopy.

  • Hannah

    You should get tested for belle cancer. I seen a documentry about it and having dyharea all the time isnt normal. I hope you fix this soon :)

  • SG

    My mother-in-law has suffered terribly with diahorrea for over 10 years now and will not leave the house unless she knows where the nearest facilities are. It was originally diagnosed as IBS. She says everything she eats affects her ‘IBS’. She has identified certain foods like salads, mushrooms, peppers but I wondered if it maybe more what she is eating with them. Could this be severe food allergy?

  • Maureen

    Hi
    I have had Dhiarrear for the past 6 weeks and have been treating it as Irritable Bowl Syndrome. I bought Ethicalnutrients tablets and still have dhiarrear – it’s horrible. I’m constantly waking up during the night and going to the toilet to empty. Does anybody have any advise – do you think I might have ea food tollerant. I don’t drink dairy at all, I like yoghurt, I drink green tea, the only milk I have is in a cappaccino. I am trying Psysillian Flakes and that seems to help a little. Should I try a lactose free diet and try lactose milk. Appreciate any advise.
    It really is a horrible feeling. My quality of life has just deflated over the past 6 weeks…:(

    • Kari

      Anybody with severe stomach issues/discomfort, please seek medical help and ask your doctor about a possible bacterial infection. I had many of the same symptoms…. Nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramping, gurgling, loss of appetite, bloating and sharp pain underneath my ribs. I slowly became very ill – I felt like I constantly had a bad flu. Some days were worse than others and just when I thought I started to feel better, it came back even worse. Finally after months of doctors and hospital visits, an ER doc tested me for C. diff – and he saved my life. It turns out I was on an antibiotic 4 months prior… While it did its job killing the bad bacteria in my body, it also killed the good bacteria in my intestine… Slowly a bad strain of bacteria took over my intestine and I became very very ill. Nobody ever warns you the dangers of taking an antibiotic. Here I was taking them to help me over a minor UTI and I ended up losing 5 months of my life. Please, if you are prescribed an antibiotic, get yourself a good probiotic to take too!

    • Drema

      I am lactose intolerant and I just avoid anything that contains lactose. I also had a colonoscopy and endoscopy and was diagnosed with IBS and colleganous colitis. The colitis causes the constant runs and I can manage it by eating rice.

    • Boo

      Diarrhea. Psyllium. Advice. tolerant. yogurt. cappucino. Advice.
      Holy hell, try learning how to spell and maybe your DHIARREAR will disappear!

      • maria

        Don’t you just hate seeing people kill the English language?

    • ted

      Definitely sounds like an allergic reaction to something in your diet. Try the Elimination Diet to find the cause.

  • Sidney

    DEfinitely looking forward to feeling a little better. I have been lactose intolertant since I was in third grade and it is getting worse as I’m getting older. Hopefully these tips will help me start to feel a little bit of relief.

  • Naomi McCloskey

    When my son was born we found out that he was allergic to milk and later in life he could drink it with no problems. I had heard there is a connection between diabetis and allergys to milk. Is this true? My son is now a type 1 diabetic and very brittle. When his sugar drops I give him milk and he reacts to it like it is orange juice! in other words he over reacts! He is 41 years old now and has a brain injury from being in a car accident 5 years ago when he did not take care of the diabetis and his sugar dropped to 10. I just found out today he is Lactose intorarent. And he has gastro parises on top of that and any help I can get I can appreaciate! Sorry for the spelling. Mom

  • diane morrison

    my 8 month grand daughter is lactose intolerant and is being weaned at mo ane we are struggling what we can and cant give her.

  • Brendan

    Laura, when you say you have the same symptoms with lactose and sugar you could indeed be right. I have fructose malabsorption and suspect lactose intolerance aswell and i find too much sugar makes me ill.

  • Laura

    I just discovered lactose intolerant and trying to figure out what causes symptoms and what doesn’t. It is hard not to make mistakes but when I do, I pay for it.
    I seem to have the same symptoms eating food with sugar as dairy; is that normal?

  • Judy Davenport

    Looking forward to feeling better

  • Carol Lowin

    Just been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. Look forward to receiving newsletter and any suggestions on meals. Goodbye to cheese and chocolate!! Already use soya milk on cereals.

  • Mari

    In response to Lucky, I only know of most Splenda sweeteners containing no-lactose, and SUSTA as well, but I don’t know exactly where to get SUSTA. I just discovered I was lactose intolerant, though I’ve been having symtoms for years. I hope this information helps. ;)

  • Lucky

    I am over 60 years old I have severe lactose intolerance.I am also a diabetic.I have stopped taking all dairy products.However I do take sweetners; all of these have some amount of lactose.Are there any lactose free sweetners in the market Thank you Lucky

  • Cynthia Schmitz

    I love my coffee especially from Starbucks (Im from WA, what can I say). When I drink my coffee at home, I use CoffeeMate which is lactose free! Thank you for that. I wouldnt be able to enjoy my coffee anymore.