Lactose intolerance means that you have trouble digesting lactose, which is the sugar in dairy foods. This can cause stomach problems such as pain and diarrhea for some people. While many people with these stomach problems think they need to stay away from dairy, the truth is that a lot of people actually can make dairy foods a healthy part of their diets. There are ways for many people to eat dairy without suffering!
Does milk bother your stomach? Try these tips:
- Start slowly. Make dairy a part of your diet again by starting with small amounts at first and slowly adding more.
- Have milk along with a meal or other foods, such as cereal, rather than alone.
- Have small amounts of dairy foods and drinks throughout the day.
- Try dairy foods that have less lactose than milk, as they may not bother your stomach as much. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and romano, and yogurt are examples.
- Drink lactose-reduced and lactose-free milk, which can be found in most grocery stores.
- Talk to your doctor about pills and drops that may make it easier for you to digest milk and dairy products.
- Try calcium and vitamin D fortified soy milk if you find you can’t tolerate milk at all.
For teen girls, getting enough calcium is VERY important. If dairy bothers your stomach, try the tips above and also make sure to eat other sources of calcium such as leafy vegetables and foods with added calcium (For example: orange juice and cereals with added calcium).
Read more about “Why Milk Matters Now.”
Look at the %DV for calcium on food packages so you know how much one serving contributes to the total amount you need per day. A food with 20%DV or more contributes a lot of calcium to your daily total, while one with 5%DV or less contributes a little. Teens, especially girls, need 1,300 mg or 130%DV of calcium daily.
Content last reviewed September 22, 2009