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Eat Confidently With Lactose Intolerance

Updated February 19, 2019
Professional headshot of Ann Schwader

Ann Schwader

SDSU Extension Program Assessment & Reporting Coordinator

Written by Whitney Blindert (Midwest Dairy Council) under the direction and review of Ann Schwader.

About Lactose Intolerance

February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month: a time to clear up confusion about the condition, and return to confidently eating the dairy foods you love. Lactose intolerance occurs when a person has difficulty digesting lactose (the sugar naturally found in milk) which may cause them to experience physical symptoms when consuming foods that contain lactose.

Effects on Dairy Consumption

Many people don’t realize that lactose intolerance doesn’t have to mean dairy avoidance; avoiding dairy can mean missing out on key nutrients. Milk is affordable and naturally nutrient-rich like no other beverage, providing nutrients we need like calcium for strong bones and protein for healthy muscles.

Because tolerance for lactose varies from person to person, lactose intolerance is a highly individualized condition. A person should talk to their doctor or a registered dietitian about a management approach that best suits him or her.

Consuming Dairy Safely

There’s no need to switch to imitation milk; by following simple tips and tricks for management, people with lactose intolerance can feel good about choosing dairy foods first.

  • Sip It.
    Start with a small amount of milk daily and increase slowly over several days or weeks to tolerance.
  • Stir It.
    Mix milk with other foods, such as smoothies, soups or sauces, or pair it with meals. This helps give your body more time to digest it. Try our Chunky Baked Potato Chowder.
  • Slice It.
    Top sandwiches or crackers with natural cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella and Swiss. These cheeses are low in lactose. Try our Heartfelt Tuna Melt.
  • Shred It.
    Shred your favorite natural cheese onto soups, pastas and salads. It’s an easy way to incorporate a serving of dairy that is low in lactose.
  • Spoon It.
    Enjoy easy-to-digest yogurt. The live and active cultures in yogurt help to digest lactose. Try our Fruit Salsa Yogurt Parfait.

Related Topics

Nutrition, Health, Dairy Cattle