Advice for Lactose Intolerance

(1) Limit the amount of milk and milk products in your diet

If your hydrogen breath test indicates lactose intolerance, it would be best to avoid foods that are high in lactose. The most common high-lactose foods include:

  • Milk and milk containing beverages
  • Ice cream
  • Soft and processed cheeses
  • Puddings and custards
  • Cream soups and cream sauces.

Lactose is also hidden in many foods such as:

  • Baked goods
  • Milk chocolate
  • Salad dressings and sauces
  • Instant oatmeal and cereal bars
  • Instant mashed potatoes, soups, rice and noodle mixes
  • Lunch meats
  • Candy
  • Pancake, biscuits and cookie mixes

A more complete list of lactose containing foods is available from the National Institute of Health.

If you are unsure if a food item contains enough lactose to cause a problem, try a small amount and wait to see how you feel. If you don’t feel any gastric distress after a few hours, you can consume small amounts of this food.

(2) Ingest foods containing lactase

LACTAID® milk and dairy products are lactose free and easy to digest by people who are lactose intolerant. Click for more information about LACTAID®.

(3) Spread lactose intake throughout the day

If you can stand some lactose in your diet, try to spread lactose foods throughout the day rather than ingest in one meal. Lactose intolerance is an individual condition. What works best for some may not work for you. Try to reduce the intake of lactose foods. For example, if you drink an 8 ounce glass of milk with a meal, reduce it to 4 ounces.

(4) Take lactase supplements

Tablets of lactase enzyme supplements are available at most pharmacies. Follow the package directions and take these supplements when you eat or drink lactose-containing foods.

(5) Pick foods that have reduced lactose content

Many manufacturers have created alternative products with low or no lactose. For example, you can purchase yogurt with no lactose, soy milk, and many cheeses. Use non-diary creamers in coffee. Hard cheeses have little or no lactose.

(6) Try adaptation and probiotics

One method that may work to increase your ability to tolerate lactose is to slowly increase your lactose in your diet weekly. As you increase your total daily amount of lactose, bacteria in the colon can adapt to digesting larger loads of lactose. Let your pain be your guide to how much lactose to increase weekly. Some people find that intake of a high-quality probiotics supplement may seed the colon with bacteria that are beneficial to lactose digestion.

(7) Eat yogurt with live cultures

Yogurts with live cultures (not pasteurized) do not cause gastric distress for many people with lactose intolerance.

(8) Increase your calcium intake

If you do need to reduce your amount of milk and diary in your diet, be sure to increase your calcium intake in other ways. For example, high amounts of calcium can be found in:

  • Vegetables: broccoli, kale, collards, turnip greens, and okra
  • Fish: tuna and salmon
  • Calcium fortified drinks: orange juice and soy milk
  • Other foods: tofu and almonds.

Further Reading

13 home remedies for lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance diet