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What Foods You Can Eat -- and How Much continued...

Figure out what foods you can eat. If you're not sure which foods with lactose you can handle, try one dairy food at a time, Sandquist says. You should be able to tell whether it bothers you within 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating it. Any discomfort from lactose intolerance is likely to set in by then. For example, drink a half-cup of dairy milk and see how well you tolerate it.

See how much you can eat. If you don't have symptoms from the food and the amount you try, slowly add more to see at what point you do have symptoms. For instance, maybe you don't have symptoms with a cup of milk, but you do with one and a fourth cups of milk. So your tolerance level is one cup.

If you do have symptoms, cut back on the amount to see if you can handle a smaller portion. 

Once you've found how much of one food you can handle, start testing another food.

Find Substitutes

You may find you can't tolerate any amount of some foods. That's a good time to try lactose-free or reduced-lactose foods.

For instance, if milk doesn't agree with you, try lactose-free milk or a dairy-free drink, such as almond, rice, or soy milk. If you have problems digesting cheese, try one with less lactose.

  • Nonfat dry milk powder, 1 cup: 62 grams lactose
  • Sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup: 40 grams lactose
  • Evaporated milk, 1 cup: 24 grams lactose
  • Milk, 1 cup: 10-12 grams lactose
  • Ice milk, 1/2 cup: 9 grams lactose
  • Ice cream, 1/2 cup: 6 grams lactose
  • Yogurt, 1 cup: 5 grams lactose
  • Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup: 2-3 grams lactose
  • Blue cheese, 1 oz.: 2 grams lactose
  • Sherbet, orange, 1/2 cup: 2 grams lactose
  • American, Swiss, or Parmesan cheese, 1 oz.: 1 gram lactose
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 oz.: 0 grams lactose

Be Aware of Calcium Needs

People who are lactose intolerant tend to cut out dairy foods. If you do that, you can shortchange yourself on calcium. You need calcium for healthy teeth and bones, and vitamin D to help your body use calcium. "People who are lactose intolerant are at higher risk for osteoporosis," or thinning bones, Saito-Loftus says.

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