Simple ideas for maintaining a healthy dose of dairy in your diet
If you or a loved one is lactose intolerant, you might find yourself confused about the condition and what it means for your eating habits. One common misperception is that you must eliminate dairy from your diet. Actually, by following simple tips for management, you can return to confidently eating the dairy foods you love.
Lactose intolerance occurs when a person has difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar naturally found in milk, which may cause them to experience physical symptoms when consuming foods that contain lactose.
What many people don’t realize is that you can have lactose intolerance and still enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits of dairy foods. Many health professionals, as well as the as the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, encourage individuals with lactose intolerance to continue to choose dairy foods first as a key source of essential nutrients.
Milk is affordable and naturally nutrient rich like no other beverage. It provides nutrients your body needs, such as calcium for strong bones and protein for healthy muscles, without the added fat and calories you don’t need. What’s more, an 8-ounce glass of dairy milk provides 8 times more naturally occurring protein than a glass of almond milk for just 25 cents.
Because tolerance for lactose varies from person to person, lactose intolerance is a highly individualized condition. You should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about a management approach that best suits you, including these ideas for comfortably incorporating dairy:
- Sip it: Start with a small amount of milk and slowly work your way up to an amount that doesn’t upset your stomach. Chocolate milk may be easier on your stomach than regular milk.
- Try it: Treat yourself to the many great-tasting lactose-free dairy foods available in the dairy case. These are real dairy foods made from cow’s milk, just without the lactose (for example, lactose-free milk or lactose-free cottage cheese).
- Stir it: Try eating dairy foods with other solid foods or meals; this helps give your body more time to digest the lactose. Mix milk into soup, have it with cereal or blend it with fruit.
- Slice it: Top sandwiches or crackers with natural cheeses such as cheddar, colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss. These cheeses are low in lactose.
- Spoon it: Enjoy yogurt. The friendly bacteria help your body break down lactose.
With just a little planning, individuals with lactose intolerance can eat their favorite dairy foods confidently, such as this fruity yogurt smoothie. For more dairy recipes and nutrition information, visit www.DairyMakesSense.com.
Raspberry Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup frozen raspberries, unsweetened
- 1 cup frozen strawberries, unsweetened
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk or lactose-free milk
- 1 cup ice (about 12 cubes)
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Serve immediately.
*Source: Midwest Dairy Association