Lactose intolerance is made evident through any adverse bodily
reaction to the consumption of lactose, which is found in dairy foods.
This is due to the body having a lack of the enzyme lactase, which is
required to digest lactose. Some people have mild effects such as gas
after eating large portions of dairy; others have such severe symptoms
that their bowels become ill and they become too sick for normal
activities (I’ll spare you the gory details). Then there are the vast
numbers of those that have reactions somewhere in between.
There are various treatments available on the market. Most of these
options are in the form of pills. These over-the-counter remedies
contain the enzyme necessary to properly digest lactose. Some pills
claim to be a once daily solution to lactose intolerance; the majority
of these enzyme supplements require one pill to be taken with the first
bite of dairy food. Harder to find is the liquid form of this enzyme,
but it does exist, and with a few drops per dairy serving it will aid in
the digestion of the lactose consumed.
It is easy to carry these lactase enzyme pills in your purse to have
on hand should you be invited for an ice cream treat or decide to treat
yourself. However, some have found these pills to be ineffective or not
as effective as needed to fully avoid the uncomfortable, and even
embarrassing, side effects of lactose intolerance. One theory may be
that the pill is not digested at the same rate as the food, therefore
the enzyme is not able to help digest the lactose. For those that find
little to no relief from lactase supplements, diet changes are
While it may be easy to control your dietary restrictions at home, it
gets more complicated when eating out. It takes some dairy knowledge to
learn what you can and cannot eat. It will vary depending on the
severity of your lactose intolerance, but the following are some general
You most likely didn’t know that the
majority of those that suffer from lactose intolerance, including those
with severe symptoms, can indeed eat cheese. It’s a myth that all cheese
induces lactose intolerance symptoms (for most). It may be a dairy
food, but during the processing of cheese the whey is removed (in milk,
the whey is where most of the lactose is found). Therefore cheese has
very little lactose content and is generally well tolerated. So feel
free to eat pizza, Italian pasta with cheese, or even a cheeseburger,
since mozarella, swiss, cheddar, and parmesan cheese are naturally low in lactose.
Containing a large amount of lactose, ice cream is a symptom-inducing hazard. However, you may be surprised to
learn that you may be able to eat frozen yogurt without the unfortunate
effects. Frozen yogurt is, of course, made from yogurt instead of milk.
Yogurt contains numerous digestion-enhancing enzymes and is easily
digested even by those that suffer from lactose intolerance. So the next
time you are at an ice cream shop, simply order frozen yogurt instead.
Another note about ice cream: when a dessert item comes a la mode
(with ice cream on the side), you can order the item without the ice
cream or ask for whipped cream instead. While whipped cream does have
lactose, it has significantly less lactose content than ice cream and
will be less likely to cause an adverse reaction.
Waffles, pancakes, muffins, and even eggs are often made with milk. The best advice is to avoid
breakfast foods when dining out as much as possible. However, for many
that is an unreasonable request. Fortunately, waffles, pancakes,
muffins, and similar breakfast items are usually made with minimal milk
and are often tolerable. This is one of those experimental types of
situations where you try a little at one time, see what happens that
day, and learn from your experience. Just be aware of the fact that
these edible items have the potential to cause lactose intolerance
symptoms, so use caution and choose carefully.
You can have a smoothie as long as it is made from yogurt or soy-based
products. Feel free to ask the vendor what exactly is in that smoothie.
Many smoothie sellers will appropriately label their dairy free, soy, or
The most obvious advice is do not drink milk.
Very few dining venues provide lactose free milk alternatives. Choose a
different beverage instead such as juice, soda, or water.
provides a full chart explaining the lactose content of foods so you
can see which foods are more likely to cause a reaction from the lactose intolerant.