Tips for a lactose-free diet
If you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you should change to eating lactose-reduced or lactose-free foods. Depending on the degree of severity and progression of the disorder, the spectrum ranges from avoiding large amounts of milk, yoghurt and cream through to completely eliminating products containing lactose from your diet. Completely avoiding lactose, even traces of it in tablets or spice mixes, is necessary only in very rare cases. Because lactose tolerance is individual to each person affected, you should test yourself with small amounts after a phase without eating food containing lactose, to see how much lactose you can tolerate.
Drinks based on soya or grains (for example wheat or rice milk) can be used as a milk substitute. However, products based on soya are not suitable for infants or very small children. Anyone who is very sensitive or no longer produces lactase will have to take care not to have the smallest amount of lactose and keep to a lactose-free diet. You can also use almond or coconut milk as a substitute for milk, depending on your taste.
Many foods are naturally lactose-free and therefore harmless, such as fruit juices, mineral water, tee, coffee, fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts, grains and cereals, potatoes, rice and pasta, meat and fish, eggs, honey and fresh herbs.
Now retailers offer a wide variety of lactose-free milk and milk products, as manufacturers react to the rising number of sufferers.
Well-ripened varieties of cheese are also well tolerated, as they hardly contain any lactose any more, because the lactose has been broken down by fermentation during the manufacturing process.
Buying lactose-free products
- In order to meet your calcium needs, eat more calcium-rich foods such as nuts, wholemeal products, soya products and pulses. Vegetables such as green cabbage, fennel, spinach and broccoli also provide calcium.
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet that covers all nutrients. Drink mineral water that contains calcium. Juices enriched with calcium and vitamin D can also help to compensate for the milk products that are absent from your diet. Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium and build bones.
- In some cases it is necessary to take calcium in the form of effervescent tablets or capsules. Speak to your doctor or a nutritionist to see if is is advisable for you to take calcium preparations.
Don't avoid travelling. There are many ways of eating when you are travelling either at home or abroad, in spite of lactose intolerance. Before you travel, speak to the airline about the on-board food. Many now offer menus for travellers with food allergies or intolerances.
Special hotels such as the Familotels in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy also offer allergy sufferers delicious meals on holiday. Let them know about your lactose intolerance when you are booking the trip or when you check in.
At the buffet you can choose anything you like from unbreaded meat, fish or vegetables; rice, pasta or potatoes (without sauce); the salad bar; and fruit.
In many countries there is a large choice of lactose-free food in the supermarkets, because in Asian countries, for example, the population is generally lactose intolerant.
If you aren't sure, you should always take lactase tablets with you. If you have any doubt, you can take these or just ask the chef.
In the case of pre-prepared products, you should find out exactly which foods are available and which ones could possible contain lactose.
If you don't want to avoid milk or milk products, put your lactose-free milk products in the office fridge - that way you'll also be able to enjoy a coffee or some muesli. Of course, fruit and vegetables are a suitable between-meals snack. There is a large variety of lactose-free cakes and pastries from 3 PAULY to go with your afternoon coffee.
You can cook something at home for yourself that you can heat up in the office, or prepare a salad to take with you. That way you can play it safe. If there is a canteen, speak to the chef if you aren't clear about things and ask for lactose-free alternatives. Watch out for milk ingredients in desserts. You should also avoid pre-prepared sauces and breaded items.
You can eat as much as you like at the salad bar, from non-breaded meat, fish and vegetables, or pasta and rice (without sauces).