Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products). Though it’s rarely dangerous, the symptoms of lactose intolerance — gas, bloating, abdominal cramps vomiting and diarrhea — can be uncomfortable and, at times, painful. You can control these symptoms by following a diet that limits dairy products.
How can you tell if a food product contains lactose?
If you’re sensitive to lactose, it’s important to read food labels carefully. Ingredients that contain lactose include:
- Dry milk solids
- Milk by-products
- Cheese flavour
- Dry milk powder
- Malted milk
What are the alternatives?
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to limit your lactose intake (by consuming a low-lactose diet) or restrict it altogether (by consuming a lactose-free diet).
If you can tolerate some lactose in your diet, opt for small amounts (60 to 125 mL) of lower lactose foods, such as cottage or ricotta cheese, aged cheese (like Parmesan or Swiss), yogurt with live cultures, sherbet, pudding or sour cream.
Choose plant-based “milks” and derivatives, such as almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk or hemp milk. Lactose-free versions of dairy foods are often available as well.