Five tips to enjoy dairy if you’re lactose intolerant
1. Start slow and build tolerance
It will take time to build up your tolerance to dairy, and a smaller portion is less likely to give you symptoms. Start with very small amounts (e.g. a splash of milk in tea or a 1/4 cup over porridge), and if you’re symptom-free, try to gradually increase your consumption.
2. Spread it out over the day
Research shows that most people with a lactose intolerance can consume at least one cup of milk a day. But, instead of drinking it all in one go, it’s better to distribute your intake into small serves spread throughout the day.
3. Choose hard cheese over soft
Hard cheese such as cheddar and parmesan naturally contain very little lactose and may be better tolerated than soft cheeses like ricotta or cream cheese. A 40g serve (about 2 slices) of hard cheese provides a third of your daily calcium needs. Yoghurt is also relatively low in lactose as the gut-friendly bacteria in yoghurt produces enzymes that break down lactose and make it easier to digest.
4. Eat dairy foods with solids
When you consume dairy with other foods as part of a meal it is digested more slowly. For example, a milkshake or milk-based smoothie may cause symptoms, but milk with cereal or a dollop of yoghurt on curry may be okay.
5. Be prepared when eating out
Instead of getting caught out with limited lactose-free choices when you’re eating out or travelling, try a lactose digesting preparation (available from chemists). These are tablets or drops that break down the lactose in dairy foods to help improve digestion and minimise symptoms.