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Lactose Free Diet

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 9 Dec 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Lactose Intolerance Lactose Intolerant

Everyone knows that kids need to drink milk to help keep their bones strong and their bodies growing, but what if your child is lactose intolerant? Can a child with lactose intolerance still eat a healthy diet and grow up strong? Of course! With a few tweaks to the menu, a child with lactose intolerance can enjoy the same lifestyle as any other youngster. Before you draw up your next shopping list, read through these tips on living with a lactose free diet.

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

"Lactose intolerance" is the condition in which a body is unable to absorb lactase in the digestive system. Lactase is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Rather than being absorbed by the small intestine, the lactase ferments in the gut and causes bloating, pain, nausea, wind and/or diarrhoea. Remember, lactose intolerance is NOT life threatening, and while consuming lactose may result in discomfort, it will not cause irreparable harm.

How Is Lactose Intolerance Diagnosed?

There are several easy methods to identify lactose intolerance in your child, including:
  • "The Domestic Method" - feed you child a diet free from lactose for several days before asking them to drink glasses of milk. If pain or symptoms result, your child is probably lactose intolerant.
  • The Lactose Tolerance Test - your child's GP will measure blood sugar levels both before and after consuming lactose. If the blood sugar level remains unchanged, lactose intolerance is diagnosed.
  • The Breath Test - After your child ingests lactose, your GP will measure hydrogen levels in his/her breath. If hydrogen is present, lactose intolerance is likely because only fermentation will cause this result.

Which Foods Contain Lactose?

Obviously those with diagnosed lactose intolerance should avoid foods rich in lactose. Some of these foods may be obvious, but others may require you to read their labels carefully. Be especially wary of:
  • Milk and milk powder.
  • Dairy products such as butter, margarine, cheese and yogurt.
  • Bread.
  • Baked goods.
  • Whey and whey solids.
  • Chocolate.
  • Tablets (which may contain lactose in the coating).
  • Any type of pre-packaged or prepared food.

Are There Lactose-Free Substitutes for Foods Containing Lactose?

Many alternative products exist for those requiring a lactose free diet, as well as for Vegans who prefer not to eat dairy products. Head to your nearest health food store and experiment with your child to find out his/her preferences for:
  • Soy milk.
  • Rice milk.
  • Almond milk.
  • Non dairy creamers.
  • Water-based breads
  • Margarine without milk or butter.
  • Soy based, canned nutrition drinks such as Ensure.
  • Lactose free cheeses (read the label of shredded cheeses to find out lactose measurements).
  • Vegan (lactose free) chocolate products.

But What About Calcium?

Children who are lactose intolerant may suffer if they can not make up the calcium they lose from cutting out dairy products. A great calcium alternative is soy, including tofu, tempeh and miso. Green vegetables, salmon and sardines also offer the calcium your child needs. Alternately, ask your GP about calcium tablets to ensure that your child meets his/her daily requirement.

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cat - Your Question:
My 18 month old grandson has a possible dairy intolerance.He is on a dairy free test diet at the moment. I am looking for sources of festive food e.g. cakes,puddings and other party foods that are dairy free but look like party food, as he has begun to notice that he has different food from his friends, particularly at nursery. Savoury and snack foods are OK because he likes meat and things like Pitta bread and hummus. We have also been told to cut out Soya as well which means he can't have Vegan yoghourts etc. Please can you suggest anything that I can by in the way of commercial foods as it is not alway possible to make homemade recipes.

Our Response:
As you may well know, the majority of supermarkets now have free sections, stocked with products specifically for people with food allergies and which include lots of dairy-free products. However, when it comes to party food, unfortunately you may have to contribute some homemade recipes. Here is a selection of ideas from Dairy Free Me herewhich I hope will help.
GrowingKids - 10-Dec-15 @ 12:47 PM
My 18 month old grandson has a possible dairy intolerance.He is on a dairy free test diet at the moment. I am looking for sources of festive food e.g. cakes,puddings and other party foods that are dairy free but look like party food, as he has begun to notice that he has different food from his friends, particularly at nursery. Savoury and snack foods are OK because he likes meat and things like Pitta bread and hummus. We have also been told to cut out Soya as well which means he can't have Vegan yoghourts etc. Please can you suggest anything that I can by in the way of commercial foods as it is not alway possible to make homemade recipes.
cat - 9-Dec-15 @ 3:55 PM
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