What is it? A lactose free diet means eating foods that have no 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 lactose free diet may prevent these problems. Your caregiver or dietitian can help you decide if you need to be on a lactose free or low lactose diet instead.
Avoid all foods on the lactose containing food lists. The only time to try these foods is if you take lactase enzyme medicine with them. Ask your doctor or care giver about lactase pills or liquids. This medicine may break down enough of the lactose for you to digest some foods with small amounts of lactose. If you decide to take lactase medicine, start with only small servings of dairy foods. Increase your servings only if you digest them well.
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 may be listed at the very end.
Look not only for milk and lactose, but also for words such as whey, curds, milk by-products, dry milk solids, and non-fat dry milk powder. If any of these words are listed on a label, the product contains lactose.
Lactose is also used in more than 20 percent of prescription drugs and about 6 percent of over-the-counter medicines. Many types of birth control pills contain lactose, as do some tablets for stomach acid and gas. However, these products typically affect only people with severe lactose intolerance.
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
Do not eat or drink the following dairy foods because they contain lactose.
--Cheese spreads and cheese foods
--Cottage and ricotta cheese
--Evaporated & condensed milk
--Hot chocolate mixes
--Kefir cultured milk drink
--Milk (Skim, 1%, 2%, whole)
--Processed and natural cheeses
--Reduced lactose milk
--Sweet acidophilus or lactobacillus milk
--Yogurt with or without live cultures
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
Do not eat the following bread and starch foods because they contain lactose.
--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
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)
--Some salad dressings (check labels)
Do not eat or drink the following fats because they contain lactose.
--Margarines with butter or milk
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
Do not eat or drink the following fruit and vegetable foods because they contain lactose.
--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.
Do not eat the following meats and meat substitutes because they contain lactose.
--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 soups, sauces, and seasonings any time.
--Broth, bouillon, consommé
--Gravies made with water
--Plain herbs & spices
--Vegetable or meat soups without milk
Do not eat the following soups, sauces, and seasonings because they contain lactose.
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