If you are lactose sensitive, you don’t necessarily have to eliminate all lactose from your diet. Individuals vary greatly in their tolerance to lactose, but usually can eat or drink some lactose without experiencing symptoms. (Note: Lactose sensitivity is different from milk allergy. Individuals allergic to milk should avoid even small amounts of milk or dairy protein, regardless of the amount of lactose in the food.)
Try these tips to enjoy milk and milk products with “less sensitivity:”
- Eat smaller servings of dairy products with a meal, not on an empty stomach.
- Choose fermented milk products such as yogurt, which contain live and active cultures that break down lactose.
- Choose aged natural cheeses, such as cheddar and Colby, which contain almost no lactose.
- Special Tip: Softer cheeses and process cheeses have some lactose—usually 1 to 4 grams per serving. The amount is included in the grams of sugars listed on the Nutrition Facts panel on the package label.
- Read ingredient lists on food labels. In general, ingredients such as milk, milk products, nonfat milk, milk solids, whey, whey protein concentrate or sodium caseinate mean the product contains some amount of lactose.
- Try commercially available lactase preparations to help break down lactose in milk and other foods and beverages that contain lactose.
- Ask a physician or registered dietitian (R.D.) to help determine the amount of lactose per meal that is acceptable for you.