Lactose Intolerance Alternatives

Dairy products upsetting your stomach or having to rely on Lactaid® pills to help your digestion? There’s a better way to work around your food intolerances by making savvy grocery choices and trying some new foods. 

While avoiding dairy products can help digestive issues for some people with lactose intolerance, dairy is an excellent source of Calcium and Vitamin D, which are necessary to maintain healthy teeth and bones, heart health, muscle function, and immunity. Cutting out the dairy doesn’t have to lead to taking Calcium and Vitamin D supplements. There’s plenty of food sources out there to explore!

Here’s a couple alternatives:

Lactose Free Dairy: Many new products have emerged on the market that are milk-based, however, they have added lactase enzyme which helps to make the product lactose free! My favorite choice is Fairlife® Milk. There are also plenty of lactose free yogurt and cheese products out there. Reading the labels is important here! 

Soy Milk/Products: Soy, which is plant based, is a great alternative to dairy products. You won’t be missing out on protein content because soy milk contains about the same amount of protein per cup that regular milk does.  Most soy milk is high in calcium and often fortified with Vitamin D. Tofu, made from soy milk, is also a fantastic product rich in protein and Calcium (and great in stir fry)

Almond Milk: Almond milk can be a great alternative to dairy milk when it comes to meeting your Calcium and Vitamin D requirements, however, almond milk usually contains little to no protein. If you use almond milk in your cereal, make sure you include a protein source on the side for balance.

Green Leafy Vegetables: If you aren’t consuming any dairy, soy, or nut based milks, Calcium can be found in other foods such as green leafy vegetables. Spinach, collards, kale, lettuces, rhubarb, mustard and turnip greens, and even broccoli are all good sources of calcium. 

Beans/Nuts: Beans such as white beans or navy beans contain Calcium, as well as nuts such as almonds. Throwing these in salads, soups, or other dishes are a great addition and add texture and flavor too!

The key is to work in at least 2-3 servings of these foods each day. For adults, we need about 1000-1200 mg of Calcium and about 600 IUs of Vitamin D daily. If you have a food allergy or intolerance you need to work around, a Registered Dietitian can assist in helping you put together a meal plan to fulfill all your nutrient requirement

Christine Steinmetz