Lactose Intolerance: An often misunderstood condition
Since February is Lactose Intolerance (LI) Awareness Month, it is important that I take a little time to focus on the facts of the often misunderstood, highly individualized condition. Many Americans self-diagnose conditions such as lactose intolerance before consulting a doctor or registered dietitian, and end up avoiding dairy foods and missing out on many essential nutrients, which are vital to good health!
Having lactose intolerance doesn’t mean you have to give up dairy altogether — different people can handle different amounts of lactose, and there’s a solution to meet almost everyone’s needs in the dairy group! The key is to find solutions that work best for each individual — from lactose-free milk to familiar dairy foods we have always known and loved that are typically easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance, such as yogurt and natural cheeses.
Try some of the tips below to help you and your loved ones manage their lactose intolerance, and still enjoy dairy and the unique nutrient package that it provides:
- Try It. Opt for lactose-free milk and milk products. They are real milk products, just without the lactose. They taste great and provide the same nutrients as regular dairy foods.
- Stir It. Mix milk with other foods, such as soups and cereal; blend with fruit or drink milk with meals. Solid foods help slow digestion and allow the body more time to digest lactose.
- Slice It. Top sandwiches or crackers with natural cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella and Swiss. These cheeses contain small amounts of lactose, so they are great options to try.
- Shred It. Shred your favorite natural cheese onto veggies, pastas and salads. It’s an easy way to get dairy that contains minimal amounts of lactose.
- Spoon It. Enjoy yogurt, which is easy to digest. The live and active cultures in yogurt help to digest lactose.
For more tips and resources, check out:
- WebMD’s “Healthy Living with Lactose Intolerance”
- Lactose Intolerance and Your Child Handout
- NDC’s Lactose Intolerance FAQ
Check out some great recipes on National Dairy Council’s hub at AllRecipes.com, also found under “Trusted Brands: Partner Recipes,” and pinboards on National Dairy Council’s Pinterest page for dishes that offer the great taste and nutritional benefits of milk, cheese and yogurt that are typically easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance.