February is National Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month

packing school lunch with Lactose Intolerance

My mom loves sharing the story of how I was allergic to cow’s milk as an infant – which I later discovered was not an allergy but lactose intolerance, a common misconception. The first few days of my life I refused to be breastfed and my doctor had to put me on a special formula I could easily digest.

Fortunately for my mom, and me, as I grew older I was able to enjoy whole milk, which I consumed most of my childhood. But during early adulthood, I started experiencing symptoms of lactose sensitivity again, forcing me to revisit my relationship with dairy.

Living with a Lactose Intolerance

I love dairy foods and as a dietitian, I don’t want to miss out on the many benefits I know they have to offer. Drinking a glass of milk is a convenient way to get 13 essential nutrients including protein–fuel to help our bodies function properly and maintain good health. That’s why I drink lactose-free milk now. It has the same essential nutrients as conventional milk, just without the lactose. 

There are many lactose-free milks and dairy foods in the grocery now, so if you or a family member experiences lactose intolerance, give them a try. You can also enjoy dairy foods and take advantage of their benefits by trying these tips:

  • Choose hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Gouda, and Parmesan, which are very low in lactose.
  • Look for yogurts with live, active cultures, which help break down lactose.
  • If you are adding milk or milk products back to your diet, introduce them in small amounts to help reduce symptoms.

Remember, living with lactose intolerance does not mean you have to live dairy-free. For more information on lactose intolerance and delicious lactose-free recipes, visit thedairyalliance.com.

LaShaundrea Bradford is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinarian, and independent Research Consultant for LaShaundreaB, LLC. She is an advocate for healthier communities and has over 15 years of experience in community-based research and community nutrition. LaShaundrea is also a self-proclaimed foodie and is the founder of Nutrition with LaShaundreaB – an online culinary nutrition experience specifically designed for foodies. When not cooking or taking pictures of food, LaShaundrea blogs, manages several social media accounts, volunteers as a nutrition educator, and spends time with her two lovely children.

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