Most of us are emotionally attached to milk, since it’s the first food we eat. But sadly, we may not be able to digest it. Understand why lactose intolerance develops, and how to deal with it.

As babies, we thrived on milk.  Culturally too, we Indians are hooked to dairy products in a big way, and eat plenty of cottage cheese, yoghurt and milk based sweets. Believe it or not, some of us can’t digest these milky foods and are actually allergic to them.

Lack of an enzyme to blame

Lactose intolerance develops if your body lacks the enzyme to digest lactose, a sugar in milk and milk products. This leads to all kinds of digestive symptoms, such as bloating, gas, acid reflux and diarrhea. Contrary to popular belief, Lactose intolerance is fairly common.

Happens during adulthood

Most people develop a deficiency in the enzyme during adulthood, leading to an inability to tolerate milk and milk products. Usually, the condition is harmless enough, since the symptoms settle down. But tackling any kind of food allergy is essential, since it can lead to other health problems if unchecked.

Get a lab diagnosis to confirm

Diagnosis is done through a hydrogen breath test or stool acidity test. If you test positive, then you should consult a nutritionist about the best way to manage this.

But do work out the best way to get essential nutrients, before you completely eliminate milk and its products from your diet.

Different Types Of Non-dairy Milk On The Wooden Background

Eating Tips

#1 Lactose intolerance can be easily managed with careful planning

Be on the alert when it comes to food. Check the labels and ingredients of food items you eat. And be especially vigilant when you eat out, and check what the dishes on the table contain.

Look out for the words ‘milk/ lactose/ whey/ milk solids/ milk powder/ curd’ on the labels of food products.

#2 Look for healthy substitutes

While milk should be avoided, some lactose intolerant folks can comfortably eat cheese (especially Parmesan and Swiss Cheese), cottage cheese (Paneer) and curd/yoghurt, as these have a lower lactose content per serving.

But stay away from ice cream, creamy gravies, white sauce, halwa and milk based mithais, milk powder, chocolate, cakes, puddings and even candies.

#3 Plant based options to milk are plenty

Plant based milks such Soy milk, Almond milk, Coconut milk and other nut milks can be used as milk substitutes in various recipes. However, these don’t have the same nutritional benefits as regular milk. You have have a mix of these, and add other foods to your diet, to compensate for the nutrients missing in plant milks.