What is it? A lactose free diet means eating foods that have no lactose. Lactose is a sugar that is a normal part of milk products. Some people do not break down lactose well. They may not have enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks lactose down in the body. Or, their body may make lactase that does not work properly. This may cause gas, bloating, cramping, or diarrhea when they eat or drink milk products. Following a lactose free diet may prevent these problems. Your caregiver or dietitian can help you decide if you need to be on a lactose free or low lactose diet instead.
Care: The lists below show you what foods are good choices because they contain no lactose.
Avoid all foods on the lactose containing food lists. The only time to try these foods is if you take lactase enzyme medicine with them. Ask your doctor or care giver about lactase pills or liquids. This medicine may break down enough of the lactose for you to digest some foods with small amounts of lactose. If you decide to take lactase medicine, start with only small servings of dairy foods. Increase your servings only if you digest them well.
Read labels on foods to see if they have milk products in them. Even foods like margarines, shortenings, non-dairy creamers, baked goods, and salad dressings can contain lactose. Food ingredients that may contain lactose are listed at the very end.
No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free dairy foods any time.
Canned nutrition drinks made with soy instead of milk, such as Ensure™
Lactose free milk
Non-dairy creamers (read labels to be sure)
Rice milk drinks
Do not eat or drink the following dairy foods because they contain lactose.
Some cheeses – generally aged cheese contains less lactose, soft and processed cheeses contain higher levels of lactose
Cheese spreads and cheese foods
Cottage and ricotta cheese
Evaporated & condensed milk
Hot chocolate mixes
Kefir cultured milk drink
Milk (Skim, 1%, 2%, whole)
Processed and natural cheeses
Reduced lactose milk
Sweet acidophilus or lactobacillus milk
Yogurt with or without live cultures
BREADS & STARCHES
No Lactose: You may eat or these lactose free breads and starches any time.
Breads made without milk, such as Italian & French breads
Cereals made without milk
Pasta, noodles, macaroni
Potatoes, rice, barley, other cooked grains
Rice cakes without cheese topping
Saltines and whole grain crackers
Do not eat the following bread and starch foods because they contain lactose.
Dry cereal with milk
Frozen potato foods with milk or lactose
Instant mashed potato mixes
Prepared breads, muffins, biscuits, or rolls made with milk
Pancakes or waffles made with milk products
No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free fats any time.
Margarine without butter or milk (check labels)
Non-dairy creamers (check labels)
Some salad dressings (check labels)
Do not eat or drink the following fats because they contain lactose.
Margarines with butter or milk
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free fruits and vegetables any time.
All fresh fruits & vegetables
Cooked or baked fruits & vegetables made without milk products
Fruit & vegetable juices
Do not eat or drink the following fruit and vegetable foods because they contain lactose.
Fruit smoothies made with yogurt
Fruits or vegetables processed with lactose
Vegetables coated in batter
MEATS & MEAT SUBSTITUTES
No Lactose: You may eat these lactose free meats and meat substitutes any time.
All fresh cooked, plain meats, fish, & poultry
Cooked dried peas & beans
Eggs cooked without milk
Peanut butter, nuts, & seeds
Soybean & tofu products
Do not eat the following meats and meat substitutes because they contain lactose.
Breaded or batter-dipped meat, fish, or poultry
Main dishes with cheese such as pizza, burritos, tacos, or casseroles
Meats in cream sauces
Omelets or souffles with milk
Processed meats with milk or lactose (hot dogs, cold cuts, deli meats)
SOUPS, SAUCES, & SEASONINGS
No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free soups, sauces, and seasonings any time.
Broth, bouillon, consommé
Gravies made with water
Plain herbs & spices
Vegetable or meat soups without milk
Do not eat the following soups, sauces, and seasonings because they contain lactose.
Soup mixes with milk products
White sauces & gravies
SWEETS & DESSERTS:
No Lactose: You may eat or drink these lactose free sweets and desserts any time.
Angel food cake
Dairy-free frozen desserts made with rice or soy
Frozen pureed fruit bars
Fruit ices & sorbets
Gelatin desserts without milk or whipped cream
Honey, sugar, syrups, molasses, & powdered sweeteners
Jellies, jams, preserves
Pies, cakes, other baked foods without milk
Do not eat or drink the following sweets & desserts because they contain lactose.
Cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, desserts with milk
Cream or cheese filled pastries
Fudge, coated candies, & chocolates
Pudding & custard
Sherbet, ice milk, ice cream
Toffee, butterscotch, or caramels
FOOD INGREDIENTS THAT OFTEN CONTAIN LACTOSE
Nonfat dry milk
Whey solids or protein
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your dietary problems and how they can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment