Living with lactose intolerance can leave dairy lovers frustrated with occasional gas or bloating after having milk, cheese or yogurt. That can be frustrating for tummies and taste buds. There is no need to fret, however. There are a variety of ways you can meet the recommended three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods daily, without pain or embarrassment.
As a registered dietitian, I encourage those unsure about dairy’s effect on their stomach to start with a small amount of milk every day and increase it slowly over several days or even weeks to help build your tolerance.
Our bodies make an enzyme called lactase to help digest the lactose in milk. Aging or falling out of the routine of consuming milk can cause the body to make less of this important enzyme. This may make it more difficult to tolerate or digest dairy.
Adding dairy back to your diet in small sips is a safe way to develop lactase naturally. Here are my top tips to sip back in love with dairy foods:
- Start off with a ½ cup of milk with meals
- Use real dairy milk in your coffee
- Over a week, increase to 1 cup of milk with meals
- Make oatmeal with milk instead of water
- Use a cup of milk in a smoothie recipe
Whether you enjoy sipping milk with meals, in a smoothie or cooked into your favorite dishes, there are plenty of health reasons to not give up on dairy milk. Milk, cheese and yogurt make quick, portable, vitamin-packed meal and snacks. Not to mention, they contain three of the four nutrients most laking in American diets: calcium; potassium; and vitamin D. And remember, lactose-free milk is a delicious way to enjoy the nutrient rich goodness of real dairy milk, without the lactose.
Don’t fall out of love with dairy—give it one more sip. Your taste buds and body will be happy you did!
Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD