Lactose intolerance can be managed through your diet by eliminating food containing lactose, primarily milk and dairy products. It’s important to note there is a distinction between lactose intolerance and an allergy to dairy. So, ask your dietitian to help you determine if you need to be on a low lactose or lactose free diet.
Most people with lactose intolerance can enjoy small amounts of milk products symptom-free. More specifically, people with an intolerance can have up to 12-15 grams of lactose per day without experiencing symptoms. To provide some perspective, 12 grams is the amount contained in 1 cup of cow’s milk. It’s possible to handle upwards of 15 grams if lactose consumption is spread throughout the day rather than in a single sitting.
In addition, not all dairy products contain identical amounts of lactose. Often, yogurt and kefir are tolerated because they include live bacterial cultures such as Lactobacilli that help break down and digest lactose. Hard cheeses, such as Swiss, Cheddar, or Parmesan contain less lactose than milk and are frequently tolerated, depending how much is consumed.
This table highlights the amount of lactose contained in various dairy products: