Low Lactose Diet

What is it? A low lactose diet means eating foods that do not have very much lactose. Lactose is a sugar that is a normal part of milk products. Some people do not break down lactose well. They may not have enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks lactose down in the body. Or, their body may make lactase that does not work properly. This may cause gas, bloating, cramping, or diarrhea when they eat or drink milk products. Following a low lactose diet may prevent these problems.

Care: The lists below show you what foods are good choices because they contain little or no lactose. You may be able to eat some foods with lactose if you only take small amounts each day. You may also digest these foods better if you eat them with a meal instead of alone. Eat very little or none of the higher lactose foods. Adjust the amounts you eat from these higher lactose lists according to how well you digest them.

  • Read labels on foods to see if they have milk products in them. Even foods like margarines, shortenings, non-dairy creamers, baked goods, and salad dressings can contain lactose. Food ingredients that may contain lactose are listed at the very end.


  • Some people may be able to digest yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese well. This is because the lactose is partly broken down when these foods are made.


  • Ask your caregiver about medicines that break down lactose. You can take these in pill form or as drops added to your food.


DAIRY

  • No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free dairy foods any time.


    • Canned nutrition drinks made with soy instead of milk, such as Ensure™


    • Lactose free milk


    • Non-dairy creamers (read labels to be sure)


    • Rice milk drinks


    • Soymilks


  • Low Lactose: These foods have small amounts of lactose. Try a small serving of them every few days. Only eat more if you digest them well.


    • Aged cheeses


    • Cottage and ricotta cheese


    • Kefir cultured milk drink


    • Processed and natural cheeses


    • Reduced lactose milk


    • Sherbet


    • Yogurt with live cultures


  • High Lactose: Do not eat or drink much of the following higher lactose dairy foods.


    • Buttermilk


    • Cheese spreads and cheese foods


    • Cream


    • Evaporated and condensed milk


    • Hot chocolate mixes


    • Ice cream


    • Malted milk


    • Milk (Skim, 1%, 2%, whole)


    • Powdered or dried milk


    • Sour cream


    • Sweet acidophilus or lactobacillus milk


    • Whey


BREADS & STARCHES

  • No Lactose: You may eat or these lactose free breads and starches any time.


    • Breads made without milk, such as Italian & French breads


    • Cereals made without milk


    • Pasta, noodles, macaroni


    • Potatoes, rice, barley, other cooked grains


    • Rice cakes without cheese topping


    • Saltines and whole grain crackers


  • Low Lactose: Do not eat much of the following higher lactose breads and starches.


    • Dry cereal with milk


    • Frozen potato foods with milk or lactose


    • Instant mashed potato mixes


    • Prepared breads, muffins, biscuits, or rolls made with milk


    • Pancakes or waffles made with milk products


FATS

  • No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free fats any time.


    • Margarine without butter or milk (check labels)


    • Non-dairy creamers (check labels)


    • Oils


    • Shortenings


    • Some salad dressings (check labels)


  • Low Lactose: Do not eat much of the following higher lactose fats.


    • Butter


    • Cream cheese


    • Margarines with butter or milk


    • Party dips


FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free fruits and vegetables any time.


    • All fresh fruits & vegetables


    • Cooked or baked fruits & vegetables made without milk products


    • Fruit & vegetable juices


  • Low Lactose: Do not eat or drink much of the following higher lactose fruits and vegetables.


    • Creamed vegetables


    • Fruit smoothies made with yogurt


    • Fruits or vegetables processed with lactose


    • Vegetables coated in batter


MEATS & MEAT SUBSTITUTES

  • No Lactose: You may eat these lactose free meats and meat substitutes any time.


    • All fresh cooked, plain meats, fish, & poultry


    • Cooked dried peas & beans


    • Eggs cooked without milk


    • Peanut butter, nuts, & seeds


    • Soy cheeses


    • Soybean & tofu products


  • Low Lactose: Do not eat much of the following higher lactose meats & meat substitutes.


    • Breaded or batter-dipped meat, fish, or poultry


    • Main dishes with cheese such as pizza, burritos, tacos, or casseroles


    • Meats in cream sauces


    • Omelets or souffles with milk


    • Processed meats with milk or lactose (hot dogs, cold cuts, deli meats)


SOUPS, SAUCES, & SEASONINGS

  • No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free foods any time.


    • Broth, bouillon, consommé


    • Gravies made with water


    • Plain herbs & spices


    • Vegetable or meat soups without milk


  • Low Lactose: Do not eat much of the following higher lactose soups, sauces, and seasonings.


    • Chowders


    • Cream soups


    • Soup mixes with milk products


    • Whipped cream


    • White sauces & gravies


SWEETS & DESSERTS:

  • No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free foods any time.


    • Angel food cake


    • Dairy-free frozen desserts made with rice or soy


    • Frozen pureed fruit bars


    • Fruit ices & sorbets


    • Gelatin desserts without milk or whipped cream


    • Honey, sugar, syrups, molasses, & powdered sweeteners


    • Jellies, jams, preserves


    • Pies, cakes, other baked foods without milk


  • Low Lactose: Do not eat much of the following higher lactose sweets & desserts.


    • Cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, desserts with milk


    • Cream or cheese filled pastries


    • Fudge, coated candies, & chocolates


    • Pudding & custard


    • Sherbet, ice milk, ice cream


    • Toffee, butterscotch, or caramels


    • Whipped cream


FOOD INGREDIENTS THAT OFTEN CONTAIN LACTOSE

  • Milk powder


  • Milk protein


  • Milk solids


  • Nonfat dry milk


  • Whey


  • Whey solids or protein


Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your dietary problems and how they can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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