Lactose intolerance means your body cannot digest lactose, which is naturally present in milk, as well as other dairy products. Don’t confuse lactose intolerance with a milk food allergy. If lactose, a type of natural sugar, go through the large intestine and isn’t digested right, it can lead to a host of symptoms like belly pain, bloating, and gas. Some people with lactose intolerance can’t drink any milk at all, and some can only consume a little bit. Lactose intolerance is fairly common.
It doesn’t occur as often in people with European ancestry. One of the big challenges for people with lactose intolerance is how to get enough calcium in their diet. Since milk is one of the biggest sources of calcium, they sometimes don’t get enough calcium. Why do certain people have lactose intolerance? It occurs when their small intestine doesn’t make enough lactase, a type of enzyme. Your body requires lactase to digest, or break down, lactose. If you have lactose intolerance, you’re going to want to avoid certain foods. This list of the top 21 foods to avoid lactose intolerance should come in as a handy reference if you have the condition.
This item seems like a no-brainer. Those who are lactose intolerant should consider milk as the main culprit that can cause unpleasant symptoms. Although milk seems like an obvious food to avoid, it is not always so easy. Milk can often be hidden in foods, particularly processed foods. You may not even think twice about the milk you pour in your cereal or coffee, much less the milk solids that could be present in your favorite mix or dessert. Start reading labels carefully and consider replacing regular milk with soy or almond alternatives.
If you love buttered toast or a pat of butter on your pancakes, it’s time to look for other options. Fortunately, there are a number of butter alternatives, such as margarine, but margarine may contain hydrogenated fats, which are unhealthy, and may lack that smooth, dairy taste.
Some people love spreading goose fat on their toast and enjoy the rich flavor. Try alternatives made with non-dairy ingredients or train your taste buds to prefer garlic bread made with olive oil rather than dairy butter.
There are many spreads that you are flavorful and provide that bit of fat that adds taste without introducing dairy.
If you can’t drink milk, it is also pretty certain that you will have to forego milkshakes as well.
In fact, milkshakes may have more lactose than a simple glass of milk, because they usually contain ice cream and milk, and are a double whammy. You can make a tasty alternative with soy ice cream and soy milk.
Given the number of dairy alternatives on the market, you have a choice of great flavors. Also, consider opting for a fruit smoothie instead of a milkshake, but make sure there is no hidden dairy in your smoothie.
Cheese is hard to pass up for those who have discovered they are lactose intolerant.
One reason is that, unlike milk, it is hard to come up with a realistic tasting cheese alternative out of non-dairy ingredients. Although there are many dairy-free kinds of cheese available at health food stores, many varieties have a flavor all their own and do not taste like real dairy cheese.
However, there are some successful imitations now and again, but they can be costly. The good news is that soy cream cheese can be just as good as the dairy versions.
5. Ice Cream
As the name indicates, this favorite frozen cream dessert people love to scream for is off-limits for those who are lactose intolerant. However, there have been many alternatives on the market for a number of years.
There are entire product lines of dairy-free frozen desserts, often made of soy or almond milk. You can also enjoy sorbet, which is frozen fruit with a creamy consistency. Many of these sorbets contain large amounts of sugar, but at least you won’t have to worry about dairy.
Freezing a mango or mango juice can provide the sweet goodness of sorbet but without processed sugar.
6. Coffee Drinks
If you like a cup of black coffee with no milk in it, you may not need to worry if you are lactose intolerant. However, it seems like almost everyone is enjoying fancy coffee drinks served up by their local barista.
Cappuccinos, frappuccinos and the like more often than not contain dairy ingredients.
Fortunately, there are soy alternatives for many of these prepared drinks. You may also enjoy flavored coffees, but check the ingredients to make sure there are no dairy products in the ingredients list.
Powders of flavored coffee sold in tins at the grocery store may also have dairy solids.
Although “sherbet” may sound like the word “sorbet” the fruity, frozen desserts are not the same.
Sherbet is not as popular as a dessert as it used to be, and sorbet has stolen much of its attention. Sherbet, unlike sorbet, usually contains dairy and is like fruity ice cream. Sherbet is often served in five-star restaurants between courses to cleanse the palate.
Keep this in mind when dining out, and ask the waiter whether what is being served is sherbet or sorbet.
Always check the label carefully when purchasing frozen desserts.
8. British-Style Tea
The British love their tea and not just at tea time, but all day. However, if you are visiting Britain and are lactose intolerant, be warned—the British way of drinking tea almost invariably involves milk. You could opt for a squirt of lemon instead, but British teas can be quite strong.
Make sure you have some dairy alternatives on hand and put some soy milk in your tea. You can also opt for green tea, which isn’t as strong and is not often served with milk, or herbal infusions.
9. Pasta Dishes
It may be simple to avoid dairy if you make your own spaghetti and meatballs at home, but if you use some prepared pasta sauces or go out to a restaurant, beware of hidden lactose.
Many Italian restaurants have creamy sauces that combine basil, mushrooms, and other ingredients with milk or cream. It isn’t always easy to detect the dairy. Not only does Carbonara sauce contain milk, but even a meaty looking spaghetti Bolognaise sauce may have a touch of butter or milk to make it smoother.
When in doubt, ask your waiter if any dairy has been added.
Although there may be non-dairy alternatives to many kinds of foods, such as ice cream or milk, cottage cheese is one item you may have to live without if you are lactose intolerant.
Although soy and almond milk may have the flavor and creaminess of real milk, they do not curdle like dairy products and can’t produce the curds needed to make many kinds of cheese, including cottage.
If you need the protein and are looking for a cottage cheese equivalent, try mashing up some tofu and eating it with fruit.