Cheese and Lactose Intolerance: A Surprisingly Compatible Pairing
I often joke with my husband that we should invest in a dairy cow vs. our children’s education because of the amount of dairy products my family consumes on a daily basis. In all seriousness, when I think about the foods we eat every day, they include milk, yogurt, and some form of cheese. It’s definitely a food group I tend to take for granted— especially when I think about those individuals who have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance (LI) or experience a sensitivity to lactose when they consume dairy.
Those who have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance or experience sensitivities to the sugar –lactose – naturally present in dairy foods might be disappointed in thinking they have to restrict favorite foods, such as cheese and other dairy products.
The good news is with evolving LI research, along with simple solutions to manage LI symptoms, people can take advantage of the nutritional qualities of a wide variety of dairy products including milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Lactose intolerant but still craving cheese? I don’t blame you! Here are some tips to help you enjoy the cheese you love everyday while managing LI symptoms:
- Cheddar cheese makes a great filling for an omelet in the morning or an Apple Cheddar Quesadilla at lunch.
- Swiss cheese is another option low in lactose, and makes a great addition to a Chef Salad in a Jar.
- Parmesan cheese is my family’s personal favorite and serves as a great flavor enhancer in many dishes, eliminating the need for extra salt. A little sprinkle or two definitely goes a long way.
- Don’t forget about your favorite pizza! Ricotta cheese steals the show [and is surprisingly low in lactose] in this Grilled Pizza with Sausage, Ricotta, and Asparagus.
- Other cheeses low in lactose content include Colby, Gruyere, Muenster, and Mozzarella. For other meal ideas featuring these cheese options, be sure to check out the recipe section of this website.
Along with these meal suggestions, I’d suggest when it comes to enjoying cheese and other dairy products to start small. Start with a small amount of milk or desired dairy food daily and increase slowly over several days to weeks.
Also, consider eating dairy with meals – mix milk, yogurt or cheese with other foods to help slow digestion and allow the body more time to digest the lactose present. Because tolerance for lactose varies from person to person, just remember to talk to your doctor or registered dietitian to learn about a management approach that best suits your needs—- cheese included!