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.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: June 30, 2014
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