Today’s post is sponsored by AlgaeCal.
Finding out you have a food sensitivity can be a major bummer. Lactose intolerance is a common food intolerance in which a person is unable to easily digest lactose, a naturally occurring sugar found in milk and dairy products.
What happens is that the small intestine does not make enough of the enzyme lactase your body needs to break down lactose. Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
Though many self-diagnose their lactose intolerance, to avoid misdiagnosing or missing a different health issue, consulting with your doctor or a dietitian is a good idea. To make a diagnosis, that healthcare provider will generally ask questions about your diet and symptoms and may confirm by having you take a non-invasive hydrogren breath test or blood sugar test.
Though sometimes people use the terms interchangeably, lactose intolerance is different from a milk allergy. Lactose intolerance is caused by insufficient lactase to digest lactose, the sugar in milk, whereas a true milk allergy is when the body has an allergic reaction to the protein in milk.
While there is no known cure for lactose intolerance, following a lactose-free diet can keep symptoms at bay. Some people may find that they can tolerate certain dairy products but not others. For example, maybe they can’t drink milk or eat soft cheeses, but yogurt and a low-lactose hard cheese like cheddar is okay. Some people find that taking a lactase supplement before eating a food that contains lactose can also be helpful if they want to occasionally indulge in something like ice cream or cheese. You’re the expert on you, so pay attention to what works for you and what doesn’t. Keeping a food journal can help you note trends.
Finding satisfying substitute for symptom-triggering foods you love can take some trial and error, but don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. It’s also important to make sure you’re covering your nutritional bases. Calcium is especially important to pay attention to on a lactose-free diet, as dairy products are the primary source of this mineral for many people. Adults ages 19-50 need about 1000 milligrams per day. Women 51 and up need 1200 mg, and men 71 and older also need about 1200 mg per day. . Current recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for calcium for adults and children age 4 and older generally range from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day, though pregnancy, lactation and certain medical conditions or use of medications can impact needs and how the body metabolizes calcium.
While it may take a little planning to meet your goals, there are lots of non-dairy source of calcium. Here are some great ones to get you started:
- Tofu made with calcium-sulfate 350 mg per ½ cup
- Sardines, canned, with bones 325 mg per 3 ounces
- Cooked collard greens 210 mg per ½ cup
- Cooked bok choy 190 mg per ½ cup
- Canned salmon 181 mg per 3 ounces
- Figs 135 mg per 5 figs
- Cooked white beans 120 mg per ½ cup
- Cooked spinach 99 mg per ½ cup
- Almonds 93 mg per ¼ cup
- Cooked kale 90 mg per 1 cup,
- Chia seeds 60 mg per tablespoon
- Sesame seeds 51 mg per tablespoon
Spreading out your intake of these foods through the day can make it easier to get enough, but if you’re struggling to get what you need from food alone, consider a plant based calcium supplement or calcium-fortified foods.
Because the United States milk supply is fortified with Vitamin D, you may want to take a Vitamin D supplement as well to ensure that your body effectively absorbs the calcium you are consuming on a lactose-free diet.
If you’re still struggling to meet your needs or your symptoms don’t resolve on a lactose-free diet, check in with your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you get on a plan that feels like a good fit for you.
Want some dairy-free recipes? Here are a few of my faves:
- Oatmeal with egg whites
- Wild Blueberry Nice Cream Smoothie Bowl
- Clementine and Farro Superfood Salad
- 4-Ingredient Vegan Mint Ice Cream
- Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Are you lactose-intolerant? What are some of your favorite non-dairy calcium sources?
This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.
**Today’s post is sponsored by AlgaeCal. I was compensated for my time to share my thoughts about how to meet your nutrient needs on a dairy-free. Opinions are my own.
**This post may contain affiliate links.
Hungry for more?
Subscribe to get the latest nutrition information, self-care strategies, and healthy living tips delivered right to your inbox.