Lactose intolerance?

By Paige Green, Hy-Vee Dietitian on Monday, June 1, 2020


 Have your dairy and feel fine, too!  

Does your tummy send an uncomfortable reminder every time you enjoy a glass of cold milk or a bite of ice cream?

berry milkWhether you’ve seen a doctor or self-diagnosed a lactose intolerance after ditching dairy, you’re not alone. Approximately 65% of the human population is not able to digest the sugar found in dairy properly. Individuals with a lactose intolerance do not make enough of the lactase enzyme, which is needed to digest lactose. Without this enzyme, a variety of symptoms can occur, including bloating, abdominal cramps, gas and diarrhea.

June is National Dairy Month. Those with this condition may think they need to opt out of the celebration, however, that’s far from the truth. Most people can manage their lactose intolerance without nixing all dairy from their diet.

Sip small servings

Although a complete removal of dairy may seem expected, try experimenting with portions. Enjoy a half cup of milk and see how your body reacts. More than likely those gastrointestinal problems won’t be an issue with such a small serving. Plus, dairy provides us with a good source of calcium and vitamin D, so "cheers" your small glassful to healthy bones.

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Lacks lactose

Not all dairy products are created equal, meaning some contain less lactose than others. Hard cheeses, such as Swiss and cheddar, have smaller amounts of lactose compared to ice cream and milk, which contain the most. In addition, yogurt may be well tolerated because the bacteria used in the culturing process naturally produces the enzyme that breaks down lactose.  

Scream for "nice cream"

Blend frozen bananas with Fairlife milk for a low-sugar sweet treat. Fairlife milk is made from cows, yet the lactase enzyme is added to their blend making it a good option for those with lactose intolerance.

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Banana Nice Cream

Un-load your potato

A dollop of sour cream can quickly send you into tummy wrenching overdrive. Ditch the cream for plain Greek yogurt, a comparable creamy condiment with less lactose, fat, and calories.

Using lactase enzyme tablets

Over-the-counter tablets containing the necessary lactase enzyme may come in clutch when the ice cream truck strolls by. Simply take the tablets before a meal or snack that contains dairy and enjoy. Keep in mind, these may not help everyone who has this sensitivity.

RELATED: Learn more about the food groups

As you can see, having an intolerance to lactose doesn’t mean you have to cut ties with one of the five major food groups forever. Whether your symptoms are unbearable or they come in waves, try a using tip from the list above to incorporate during this month’s shout-out to dairy. Finally, reach out to a Hy-Vee dietitian to ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D if you’ve reduced your daily dairy consumption dramatically.


paigePaige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Ames Hy-Vee on Lincoln Way.