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What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance results from an inability to digest lactose in the small intestine. Lactose is the main carbohydrate or sugar found in milk, and in varying quantities in dairy products made from milk including yoghurt, ice cream, soft cheeses and butter.

What foods are eliminated from a lactose intolerance diet?

The dietary changes for lactose intolerance should initially include the exclusion of those foods highest in lactose. If the symptoms resolve then small amounts of lactose containing foods may be reintroduced, and symptoms monitored. Most people will be able to determine their olerance level for lactose. Very rarely people may be so sensitive that they will need to exclude foods with lower levels of lactose including biscuits, cakes and other processed foods. It is important to find a suitable replacement if important foods are excluded from the diet.

Lactose Content of Common Dairy Foods

The lactose content of dairy foods varies widely, as do the serving sizes consumed. Dairy products such as hard cheese are generally tolerated due to their low lactose content. Yogurt may be tolerated by some individuals as some of the lactose is predigested by the yogurt's bacteria.

Substitutes for Dairy Foods that are Lactose-Free

There are now available a wide range lactose-free milks, yogurts and ice creams. It is best if these foods are calcium enriched. Powdered soy milks such as Carnation powdered soy milk can be added during cooking to cakes, desserts and sauces to increase calcium content. Soy milk can be used freely in cooking as you would cows milk. Lactose free ice creams include those based on soy such as Fruccio dairy free ice cream, and many fruit sorbets.

For those who cannot tolerate soy milk or prefer cow's milk there are a number of low lactose milk products available. These include Lactaid or Balance, reduced lactose milks. These are UHT products that can be found on supermarket shelves.

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Previous reviews

Melissa
lactose intolerance
What you choose to eat makes a serious difference when you have lactose intolerance. Learning about foods can really make sure you can enjoy what you eat without having the symptoms show up.
Paul
This takes a lot of getting used to. Even the substitute products that are out there really aren’t the same. They substitute, but they don’t actually mirror what you’re used to with dairy. So it’s a matter of learning what you like in the non-dairy world. It takes some time and you do miss the stuff you love, but that’s just how it is.
Suzie
you can't live off pills
When it comes to lactose intolerance so many people ask me “can’t you just take those pills and then you’re fine?” What I always say is that you really can’t make those a part of everything that you eat. Pretty much, those pills are there to help you through special occasions. Also, it’s important for people to know that they don’t just mean that you can eat all the milk and dairy you want, to your heart’s content. There is a limit and it depends on how strong your intolerance is to lactose. I don’t personally find that I can have that much dairy, but if I’m going somewhere for a special meal and all they’re serving is lasagna, then I know that I can get through the celebration alright with them. The rest of the time, this is exactly the kind of diet that I have to be on and it works really great to make sure that I still get nutrients and protein but that I’m not always needing to know where there’s a bathroom available. It makes a serious difference when you can just get your own eating habits under control. You need to take responsibility for your own wellness when you have a condition like this, and this kind of guidance can be very helpful with that.
Antonio Jones
This diet just seems to think that you can supplement lactose free products without noticing anything. If anyone has ever tried powdered soy milk for coffee (which never stirs in just right so it is always a little bit weird) or non-dairy cheese, then they’ll know that it is not the same thing. You need to start looking at your life differently. The products you loved are gone. Now you need to start considering new ones that are different, not substitutes.
Bobby Rodney
SOme milk products still good
I truly appreciate the difference that a lactose intolerance diet can make by keeping the levels of the sugar to a minimum. But it shouldn’t simply cut out all milk products because there are some that cause a negative reaction. I have looked into it a lot and it turns out that there are some milk products that have a tiny amount of lactose in them. For example, mozzarella cheese barely has any lactose in it. So I can still use that to melt on foods instead of having to go for tofu or soy cheese, which has an odd flavor, a bizarre texture, and doesn’t melt well (even the stuff that says that it melts is odd).
Ron
just pay attention
Remember that a lactose intolerance diet is way easier than trying to eat when you have type 1 diabetes or something like that. Just cut out as much dairy as you can, and if you can’t avoid it in a certain circumstance, take Lactaid or other pills that will make sure you can get thorugh it.
Beth
difficult, but it works
When you’ve been eating dairy all your life and you suddenly realize that all that discomfort was coming from a lactose intolerance, it can seem like the world is going to end. Yes, maybe I’m a little dramatic, but that’s how it felt. I absolutely love cheese and I live for ice cream. They were comfort foods for me. They were my guilty pleasures. There are a lot of alternatives out there, now. They’re not exactly the same, but a lot of them are quite good. The trick is not to try to think of them as the same thing. Try to think of them as something slightly different but that is also good. For example, I don’t try to think of lactose-free cheese as the same as regular cheese, but I have tried a few and I have found certain varieties that I like. It’s the same as the fact that there were some regular cheeses that I did or did not like. I am really not a fan of soy milk, but I do like almond milk. And the non-dairy creams for coffee are just great! I don’t miss regular cream in my coffee at all. It’s a matter of trying things out and discovering what you do like and what you don’t. It’s a shame that you can’t have some of the things that you used to like, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat anything enjoyable ever again. Plus, there are some pills that you can take on occasion when you just can’t stand it and you want to have your favorite dairy food. I wouldn’t do that every day, but now and then, it makes things fun. For example, on a very hot summer day, I can still have an ice cream cone once in a while. And when I’m out with friends, I don’t have to skip the cheese on my pizza altogether.
Kelly
makes it easier
This can make it a lot easier to deal with lactose intolerance. I’m not fully intolerant to lactose, but I have a sensitivity to it, so even if I slack just a little bit, I can get away with it. Still, I absolutely love dairy and I don’t find that substitutes are at all the same. I don’t like soy, rice, or almond milk at all and I find that they don’t taste the same in cooking. That said, it’s definitely better than nothing. A lactose intolerance diet is well designed to make sure that you aren’t just left with absolutely nothing tasty to eat. It’d be nice if more products had labels that said if they had lactose in them and how much so that you can best judge how much to have. As it is, it’s best to speak with a nutritionist or allergist or even just your doctor about the types of foods that you should or should not have. I also use a lactaid product that helps with lactose digestion in times when I just want to eat a lasagna with cheese, for example. I don’t mind giving it up to a certain degree, but if it’s possible for me to have some every now and again, I’ll certainly go for it. One thing I am concerned about is using soy products too much as an alternative to cow’s milk. Soy has a lot of sodium and it has substances in it that can mimic female hormones. That’s not the type of thing that I want to mess around with. My blood pressure is already bordering on the high side, so I’d really like to avoid pushing it up any further than necessary because I’ve consumed too much sodium by avoiding dairy!
Joseph Kraft
lactose intolerance diet
I had to cut dairy for a while due to a diet I was on. The substitutions from this work great
Fred
Lots of substitutes and solutions
About 20-30 years ago, there was a kid in one of my classes who was lactose intolerant and none of the parents knew what it meant or understood the types of changes that had to be made to the foods and treats that were brought in for holidays and birthday celebrations. At that time, trying to live a healthy diet that did not include milk products was a significant challenge. Things have changed a lot since then. The specialty product and organic section in my regular grocery store not doesn’t just have one kind of lactose-free milk alternative, but several brands with various types and flavors. There are also cheeses and other dairy alternative options that aren’t quite the same as the “real thing” but they certainly are an improvement over the virtually nothing that would once have been on those shelves. I have an aunt who has recently been diagnosed with lactose intolerance and when she visits, I always have foods based on this diet. Now that there are so many options (and she can take a Lactaid to help out if she does actually want to have something with dairy in it – i.e. cheesecake) it really isn’t hard at all to create something great. Though she doesn’t mind soy-based milk, she said that the almond-based milk is extremely flavorful and does well in cooking. I personally tasted soy milk and didn’t like it at all, but I don’t like cow’s milk all that much, either, so that probably makes me a bit biased either way. I did find that I liked the leftover soy milk that I’d had from one of her visits was good in my coffee, and it worked well for making scrambled eggs, too.

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