Lactose Intolerance: What to eat and skip? - Leopard Nutrition

Lactose Intolerance: What to eat and skip?

Milk is one of the most nutritious drinks. It’s no wonder many people love it. However, some people can’t consume milk and other dairy products as they are lactose intolerant.

If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you may be thinking or have already eliminated all dairy products. But, this can cause nutritional problems.

Read here what to cut and what to eat if you’re lactose intolerant. 

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. Most people have enough amounts of lactase enzymes in their small intestines. As such, they have no issue consuming lactose food.

When we take lactose, it breaks into glucose and galactose that can be absorbed easily into the body. But, a lactose intolerant person who has difficulty digesting lactose starts to experience abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting after 30 minutes- 2 hours of consuming it. Lactose intolerance usually affects adults. But there are babies born with a lactase deficiency.

However, note that being lactose intolerant is not the same as having a milk allergy. The latter is a severe condition that affects a few people. Experts say that most people with lactose intolerant can take some lactose. Parents are even advised to give products like yoghurt and cheese that contain less lactose to children with lactose intolerance. 

Research claims that those intolerant to lactase can, with time, build tolerance by drinking small amounts of milk. Although there’s no standard amount of lactose that a person can tolerate, it’s often advisable that you keep the dairy products in check. Otherwise, it may cause diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, and gas.  

Tips to Enjoy Lactose for Lactose Intolerants 

These strategies can help you manage your intake of dairy if you are lactose intolerant;

Consume in Small Amounts- Lactose intolerant people can still consume foods with lactose. However, the intake has to be moderate. This calls for having a food diary where you write down what, when and how much you’ve consumed, as well as how it made you feel. You’ll then notice a pattern that will help you know how much lactose you should limit yourself to. 

Opt for Lactose-Free Milk and Other Dairy Products- if you love milk, you can get lactose-free milk or that with less lactose in most supermarkets. When you are lactose intolerant, getting enough calcium can be difficult. However, lactose-free milk offers the same calcium amounts as regular milk, meaning you can enjoy it without worrying about lactose intolerant symptoms. 

Take Lactase Supplements- although they don’t cure, they can help you digest lactose-containing foods. These supplements are found in various forms, like chewable tablets and caplets. They are best when you are not sure of what ingredients are in a meal. 

Take Smaller Portions- you may not take a whole glass of milk. But you can consume small amounts per serving. For instance, instead of drinking a full glass of milk one time, take one that’s ¼ full and spread the servings during the day. You can gradually increase the amount but to a comfortable level. Also, while doing that, observe your body’s reaction. This will help you know your limit. 


Drink Yogurt- go for yoghurts with live and active bacterial cultures. These types can help in breaking down lactose. And you only need to take one cup of low-fat yoghurt to get 448mg of calcium. However, please avoid frozen yoghurt as it has fewer live cultures, which can be problematic for someone with lactose intolerance.

Foods to Eat and Foods to Cut 

Some people may need to eliminate dairy products in their diet to manage their symptoms. However, cutting and bulking up for lactose intolerants is not that easy. When you eliminate protein, you need to add more dairy-free foods rich in calcium and other nutrients.

Experts say that adult men should take at least 1000mg of calcium/day while women past menopause need to increase the amount to 1200mg.

Here are some foods to bulk up for lactose intolerance;

  • Lactose-free milk 
  • Rice milk 
  • Soy milk 
  • Canned soy made nutritional drinks 
  • Non-dairy creamers 
  • Bread and cereals made without milk 
  • Rice cakes that don’t have cheese topping 
  • Cooked grains like potatoes and rice 
  • Noodles, pasta, and macaroni          
  • Saltines and whole-grain crackers 
  • Margarine without milk and butter 
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables 
  • Cooked or baked fruits that haven’t been prepared with milk 
  • Fruit and vegetable juices 
  • Well-cooked and fresh meats, poultry, and fish
  • Eggs cooked without milk 
  • Peanut butter, seeds, nuts
  • Soybeans and tofu products 
  • Soy cheese
  • Well-cooked beans and dried peas 
  • Soups without milk 
  • Plain herbs and spices 
  • Honey and sugar syrups 
  • Cakes without milk 
  • Frozen pureed fruit bars 

Cut of these foods to manage lactose intolerance; 

  • Cakes and desserts cooked with milk
  • Ice cream or ice milk 
  • Buttermilk 
  • Whipped cream 
  • Cream soups 
  • Soups made with milk 
  • Chowders 
  • Cheese foods and spreads 
  • Yoghurt without live cultures 
  • Whey
  • Dishes with cheese like pizza, tacos, casseroles, etc. 
  • Batter coated vegetavles 
  • Bread, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and biscuits made with milk 
  • Creamed vegetables 
  • Butter 
  • Cream cheese 
  • Party dips 
  • Processed fruits/vegetables with lactose  
  • Souffles or eggs made with milk 
  • Processed meats like hot dogs that have lactose 


You can still enjoy a lactose-free diet with many foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. However, make sure that you read the label of a particular food to check whether it has lactose. 

Lactose intolerance symptoms can be uncomfortable. But did you know that a simple thing as changing your diet can help you manage or prevent them?


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