Lactose Intolerance Diet: What to Avoid If You Are Lactose Intolerant

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Lactose Intolerance Diet

Do you suffer from stomach cramping, nausea, or even diarrhea after enjoying ice cream or other dairy products? Then you may need to switch to a lactose intolerance diet as the problem may be due to lactose, a natural sugar component found in many tasty treats.

To prevent discomfort and agonizing pain, you need to learn what not to eat if you are lactose intolerant. We examine the common condition of lactose intolerance, offer a lactose-free foods list, and suggest recipes to help you enjoy your favorite meals without suffering the consequences.

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance refers to the inability to digest lactose properly. Lactose is a sweet-tasting natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products. This sugar is created with glucose and galactose and comes from sweet or sour whey.

Your body produces an enzyme known as lactase to break down lactose entering the digestive system. If you do not have a sufficient amount of lactase, you are considered to have a lactose intolerance.

Symptoms may include nausea, diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps, pain, and stomach rumbling after consuming milk and dairy products. You may have one or more of these symptoms with any amount of dairy ingested. Or, you may only experience issues when consuming large amounts.

A lactose intolerance condition can’t be cured with a pill or liquid solution but can be managed through special diets and by avoiding trigger foods. And, since it is an individual-based problem, you may have to conduct your own intolerance test by trying different foods containing lactose.

A Healthy Lactose Intolerance Diet 

Don’t panic and think that you will never be able to enjoy ice cream or a glass of milk again. There are changes you can make to your diet so that you can enjoy these foods. Read on to learn about a healthy diet for lactose intolerant cases.

1. Eat Less Dairy

You may not have to give up dairy but perhaps have smaller portions or serving sizes. Some cases of lactose intolerance allow for a taste of dairy products occasionally.

You may want to start by testing your tolerance with low-fat or skim milk. You may be able to avoid

2. Combine Dairy with Other Foods

While you are comparing and testing foods, try having that glass of milk with your meal. Or add your favorite cheese product to a salad or sandwich.

Combining those dairy products that give you problems with other foods may assist in proper digestion, and possibly prevent any symptoms from occurring. Doing this will give you the benefits of dairy, as well as curb any cravings you may be having.

3. Discover Lactose-Free Products

As lactose intolerance is becoming more common, many producers of food and beverages offer dairy alternatives. These can come in the form of rice milk or soy milk and lactose-free products, as these do not trigger lactose problems.

4. Lactose Enzyme Supplements

Some cases of lactose intolerance can be improved with the use of lactase enzyme supplements. These are intended to be used only when consuming foods and beverages with lactose as a primary ingredient.

With the lactase enzyme component, these supplements work to help break down the lactose in digestion. However, there is no guarantee they will work for everyone.

5. Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin deficiency is another major issue for those who are lactose intolerant. By not consuming milk and dairy products, you may not be getting the required amount of vitamin C and vitamin D needed for proper functioning.

You can obtain vitamin D by consuming eggs and liver. Exposure to sunlight daily will also give you a good dose of vitamin D.

Vitamin C is available in leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and rhubarb. You can also get your vitamin C with rice and soy milk, calcium-fortified cereal and breads, and sardines.

6. Vitamin K Supplements

Your body needs sufficient amounts of vitamin K to be able to absorb calcium. And those who are lactose intolerant usually have a vitamin K deficiency.

Eat foods like cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, scallions, and dried basil.

7. Organic Fermented Dairy

Another great source of vitamin K is organic fermented dairy products. These products can make it easier for your body to digest lactose.

Kefir is one form of organic fermented dairy. It is a milk drink similar to yogurt but of a thinner consistency. It contains vitamin K, vitamin B12, thiamin, and folate.

Fermented products will also boost magnesium levels which may be low in some people with lactose intolerance.

8. Goat’s Milk

Although it is milk, the body digests goat milk easier than cow’s milk. Goat’s milk has smaller fat particles and less lactose. It also has more calcium and potassium than regular milk.

9. Probiotic-Rich Foods

Probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods can help those who are lactose intolerant. They have active and live cultures to help promote good digestive health.

Consume yogurt, fermented vegetables, kefir, and beverages such as kvass and kombucha.

10. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil helps with digestive issues as it is easily absorbed by the body. Use it for cooking and baking, as well as a dairy replacement in teas and coffees.

11. Ghee

Ghee is a lactose-free clarified butter product made from actual butter. It has been used for years to treat various ailments, including digestive issues.

In the production of ghee, milk is boiled, and the solids are simmered as opposed to being removed as is done in other clarified butters.

Lactose Intolerant Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid

If you are lactose intolerant, it may seem as though your food choices are limited. On the surface, this may appear to be true, but it may not be the case.

We have compiled a lactose-free foods list to make it easier for you to enjoy the foods you love, without having to deal with the pain and other digestive issues.

Lactose Intolerant Diet Foods List
Group Lactose-Free Lactose-Containing
Milk and milk products 100% lactose-free milk, soy milk Milk: Whole, skim, 1%, 2%, buttermilk, sweet acidophilus milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, instant hot chocolate and cocoa mixes, cheese
Vegetables Fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables without added milk or milk products, tomato paste and purée, tomato and spaghetti sauces without cheese Creamed or breaded vegetables, packaged dried potato mixes, tomato and spaghetti sauce with cheese
Fruits Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits None
Breads and grains Water-based breads (Italian, French, Jewish rye), rice and popcorn cakes, graham crackers, rusks, pareve (Jewish) baked products, cooked and dry cereals without added milk solids, pasta, rice, oats, barley, cornmeal, bulgur, and other plain grains Made with milk or milk products such as breads, rolls, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, sweet rolls, waffles, crackers, instant and dry cereals with added milk products, some packaged grain mixes, packaged macaroni mixes
Meat or meat substitutes Plain beef, lamb, veal, pork, wild game, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, kosher prepared meat products, peanut butter, peas, beans, or lentils (dried, canned, frozen), all nuts and seeds, tofu Eggs, fish, meat, or poultry (breaded or creamed, luncheon meats, sausage, frankfurters, some brands of egg substitutes and powdered eggs
Fats and oils Bacon, butter, margarine without milk derivatives (whey), salad dressing without cheese or milk, vegetable oils, olives, most non-dairy creamers, mayonnaise, gravy made without milk or milk products Cream, half and half, sour cream, cream cheese, chip dips, some types of margarine, salad dressing with cheese or milk, whipped toppings
Sweets and desserts Angel food cake, gelatin, fruit ice, fruit popsicles, fruit roll ups, hard candy, gum drops, jelly beans, licorice, fruit pie fillings Ice cream, ice milk, some brands of sherbet, soufflé, mousse, pudding, custard, packaged dessert mixes, milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, butterscotch
Beverages Postum, lactose-free nutritional supplements (Sustacal, Ensure, Nutren), vegetable juice, fruit juices and drinks, tea, carbonated beverages, beer, wine, distilled spirits (gin, rum, etc.), cocoa powder, most coffee Instant iced tea, instant coffee, Ovaltine, chocolate drink mixes, cordials, liqueurs, milk-based nutritional supplements (Carnation Instant Breakfast)
Soups Bouillon, broth, meat or vegetable stock soups, bisques and chowders made with water, soy milk or 100% lactose-free milk Cream soup, canned and dehydrated soup mixes containing milk products
Miscellaneous Popcorn, plain pretzels, plain potato and corn tortilla chips, salsa, mustard, ketchup, pickles, uncreamed horseradish, relish, sauces made without milk or milk products, sugar, honey, jams and jellies, maple and corn syrup, molasses, herbs, spices, salt, pepper Cream or cheese sauces, ranch-style or cheese-flavored snack pretzels or chips, cheese curls, sugar substitutes with lactose added, medications and vitamin/mineral supplements with lactose added

Substituting Calcium If You Are Lactose Intolerant

As mentioned, it is important to avoid a calcium deficiency with the absence of dairy products.

In the United States, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium is based on a person’s age, gender, and if they are pregnant or nursing.

Newborns up to six months are recommended to have 200 milligrams (mg) daily while babies six months to one year should have 260 mg.

Age Group RDA Milligrams (mg)
1-3 years 700 mg
4-8 years 1,000 mg
9-18 years 1,300 mg
19 to 50 years 1,000 mg
51-70 years (males) 1,000 mg
51-70 years (females) 1,200 mg
Above 70 years 1,200 mg
14-18 years (pregnant or nursing) 1,300 mg
19-50 years (pregnant or nursing) 1,000 mg

Lactose intolerance sufferers need to boost their calcium intake with foods and beverages that do not trigger digestive issues. So, consume calcium-rich foods such as dark green vegetables, beans, oranges, sardines, tuna, canned salmon, soy products, fortified bread and cereals, and juice.

Medications and Lactose

Did you know that some medications contain lactose? Since lactose is inexpensive to extract from whey and it has a compressible form, it is used as a filler in many over-the-counter and prescribed medications. It also balances out the bitter taste of some of these medications.

Lactose can be found in oral contraceptives and to treat stomach issues such as excess acid and gas. So, lactose intolerance symptoms may result with the ingestion of such medications. 

Lactose Intolerance Diet Recipes and Meal Plan

With cases of lactose intolerance on the rise, there are many published recipes as well as meal plans and diets for lactose intolerance you can follow. We have included a few recipes and one sample meal plan to make it easier for you.

Mango Pudding Recipe


  • 2 large mangos, ripe and soft
  • 1 packet of gelatin
  • ½ cup of hot water
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk


Scoop out the flesh of both mangos and puree the flesh in blender or food processor until a smooth consistency obtained.

Heat the water until it boils. Add the gelatin in the water and whisk to remove lumps. Then, add sugar and stir to dissolve.

Add the water solution to the blended mangos and then add the coconut water. Blend until combined.

Pour the mixture into four dessert bowls and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Do not leave it for more than 24 hours.

Serve alone or with fresh fruit.

Gluten Lactose-Free Bread Recipe

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of rice flour
  • ½ cup of potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon of xanthan gum
  • ½ cup of tapioca flour
  • ½ cup of cornstarch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of egg substitute
  • 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
  • 1 ¼ cups of water


In a medium-sized bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix all the liquid ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Add the yeast to the dry mixture and beat in the liquid mixture. Beat the combined mixture for 2 minutes.

Scrape the mixture into the pan and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise to the top of the pan.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack before slicing the bread.

Healthy Hemp Red Sunset Smoothie Recipe


  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 peeled oranges
  • 1 10-ounce bag of pitted frozen cherries
  • 3 tablespoons of hemp protein powder
  • 2 teaspoons of raw carob powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne, or to taste


Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Then pour into three glasses.

Orange Spice Vegan Pancakes Recipe


  • 1 cup of unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¹⁄8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 ½ cups of orange juice
  • ¼ cup of golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of orange zest


Spray a non-stick frying pan or griddle with oil and heat on medium-high.

Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a mixing bowl. Then add juice, raisins, and zest and stir until combined. Add more orange juice if the batter is too thick.

Drop the batter onto a heated surface a quarter cupful at a time and cook until tops are bubbling. Turn and cook until the underside is golden brown.

Serve and store any unused pancakes in the freezer to be heated at a later time in the toaster for a quick breakfast.

Use these recipes and others with a lactose intolerance diet plan. We have added a sample menu plan below to give you an idea on how to enjoy food without the painful symptoms of lactose issues.

Sample Meal Plan


  • A bowl of high-fiber cereal or porridge with fresh fruit and soy milk
  • Wholemeal or grain toast with milk-free margarine or pure honey
  • Tea or coffee with soy milk


  • A sandwich made with wholemeal bread, milk-free margarine, and lean beef or canned salmon
  • A small salad
  • Fruit or canned fruit
  • Water, tea, diluted juice, or cappuccino with soy milk


  • Chicken and vegetable stir fry with steamed rice
  • Fruit and dairy-free ice cream or custard made with soy milk
  • Water with lemon juice


Fresh fruit, crackers, popcorn, water, tea, coffee, or hot chocolate made with cocoa and soy milk

A lactose intolerance diet can offer you a world of less pain and discomfort when enjoying food. Lactose is found in most milk and dairy products as well as many prescribed and over-the-counter medications.

Many people may think they need to stop enjoying their favorite meals and treats due to the digestive issues lactose can cause. But today, you can find many lactose-free choices on market shelves, as well as various recipes online to create amazing dishes.

Knowing what foods to substitute can allow lactose intolerance sufferers to live a normal life when it comes to eating.

“Lactose intolerance,” NHS Choices, April 1, 2016;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
“Healthy Living With Lactose Intolerance,” Web MD, July 31, 2016;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
“Foods To Eat And Avoid for Lactose Intolerance Diet,” Healthhype;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
“Lactose Intolerance / Low Lactose Diet,” Queensland Government, May 2017;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
Matus, M., “Lactose Intolerance Diet,” Every Diet, December 24, 2014;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
Brabaw, K., “6 Dairy Foods That Don’t Affect Lactose Intolerance,” Prevention, May 18, 2016;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
“Lactose Intolerance,” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, June 2014;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
Fleming, A., “Lactose and Medication,” Go Dairy Free, April 27, 2007;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
Syndey, M., “Mango Pudding — Lactose-Free (Thailand),” Food;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
“Gluten & Lactose Free Bread,” Food;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
Fleming, A., “Healthy Red Sunset Smoothie,” Go Dairy Free, April 28, 2017;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
Fleming, A., “Orange Spice Vegan Pancakes,” Go Dairy Free, April 16, 2017;, last accessed August 9, 2017.
“Diet for Lactose Intolerance,” GastroNet;, last accessed August 9, 2017.