Lactose intolerance used to mean a diminished diet. Fortunately, now there are plenty of alternatives, as well as ways to help you tolerate lactose, or milk sugar.
Step 1: Test your tolerance Pay attention to the way typical dairy foods, like milk and cheese, affect you. Does ice cream make you sick, but yogurt leave you feeling fine? Do you react differently to goat's milk than to cow's milk? Make a note of every product that makes you feel gassy or nauseous, or causes diarrhea.
Step 2: See a doctor If you suspect you are lactose intolerant, see a doctor, who can perform a simple test to confirm your self-diagnosis.
Step 3: Get some lactase pills Take some chewable lactase enzyme tablets before consuming dairy. Lactase is the enzyme that helps you digest lactose, and people who are lactose intolerant don't produce enough of this enzyme on their own. Though not a cure, the pills can lessen your symptoms.
Step 4: Substitute Try some dairy substitutes. Look for soy and rice milk and cheese, which don't have lactose, and goat's and sheep's milk, which contain slightly less lactose than cow's milk.
TIP: Since milk is a primary source of calcium, make sure to replace it wither other calcium-rich foods to pick up the slack: black and navy beans, fortified cereals and juice, salmon, sardines, almonds, and greens.
Step 5: Stick with your choices Follow through with your choices. You might miss the taste of dairy at first, but keep at it and you'll soon like the alternatives just as much. And always bring lactase tablets when you go out to eat, just in case you can't avoid dairy in your meal.
FACT: As many 50 million Americans – one-sixth of the population –are lactose intolerant.