10 Foods That Trigger Lactose Intolerance & 10 To Eat Instead

10 Foods That Trigger Lactose Intolerance & 10 To Eat Instead

Lactose intolerance extends far beyond a minor stomach cramp or bout of gas—it can seriously impact digestion. It’s important to know which foods exacerbate symptoms and which provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy. With that, here are 10 to keep away from and 10 to indulge in more often. 

1. Milk

If you’re lactose intolerant, milk is one of the top things to avoid. The popular beverage is loaded with lactose, meaning consumption causes bloating, gas, diarrhea, and other uncomfortable digestive issues. Photobyunsplashcottonbro studio on Pexels

2. Certain Cheeses

Some cheeses are more forgiving than others, but there are certain kinds to keep away from. Brie, gouda, feta, and mozzarella are particularly irksome and can lead to discomfort or digestive problems. 

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3. Milk Chocolate

As the name suggests, milk chocolate is a leading culprit for digestive issues. The lactose-intolerant should either indulge in moderation or avoid it altogether as it contains enough lactose to upset stomachs.

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4. Butter

Butter doesn’t have as much lactose and is generally safe. However, based on the severity of your intolerance, it can be just as detrimental as other dairy products, meaning you should speak with your physician about how much to consume.

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5. Yogurt

Let’s start with the bad news: yogurt contains lactose, which can cause digestive issues in those sensitive to it. The better news, however, is that some yogurt has enough good bacteria to break down said lactose and make digestion easier—Greek yogurt is a terrific example of this. 

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6. Evaporated Milk

You may have thought whole milk was the only troublemaker but evaporated and condensed milk are just as harmful. Evaporated milk, in particular, contains far more lactose than regular milk, and should be avoided. 

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7. Ice Cream

Generally speaking, ice cream has a high level of lactose and isn’t the smartest option. Based on the severity of your intolerance, ice cream might still be enjoyed in moderation—it’s all about the kind you eat. Sorbet or lactose-free options may go down smoother, but you might have to swear off ice cream altogether. 

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8. Creamy Soups

Avoid any cream-based or “cream of” soups. Even if the recipe doesn’t call for much, you might find it hard to digest later. The good news is that easy ingredient swaps keep things lactose-free. 

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9. Some Sauces

Certain sauces, like cheese or Alfredo, are best ignored. For example, Alfredo might not seem like a big deal on the surface, but it’s really nothing but cheese and cream, meaning you’ll likely suffer cramps or gas later. If you’re still looking to indulge, check out lactose-free recipes.  

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10. Sour Cream

Sour cream may not have the same lactose as milk, but it does have the potential to wreak havoc on stomachs. Depending on your intolerance, it’s wiser to keep away than roll the dice.

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Despite the off-limits menu items, there are still plenty of foods lactose intolerant people can safely enjoy.


1. Milk Alternatives

If you need a lactose alternative, turn to almond, rice, oat, or soy milk instead. Not only are they lactose-free, but they also come with calcium and protein, so you won’t miss out on the nutrients. Some are even flavored!

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2. Hard Cheeses

Ironically enough, soft cheese is hard on stomachs—but that’s not the case for some hard cheeses. Swiss or cheddar are easier on intolerant stomachs and won’t cause the same upset as their cousins. 

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3. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are loaded with nutrients, including far more calcium than regular milk. If you need a calcium boost, work chia seeds into smoothies, pudding, or sprinkle some atop your breakfast cereal. 

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4. Fatty Fish

Severe lactose intolerance comes between you and important vitamins and minerals, like calcium or phosphorus—but certain fish can remedy that. Sardines, crab, and salmon are great places to turn for both. 

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5. Dark Chocolate

Thankfully, all chocolate isn’t off the table. Dark chocolate comes with all kinds of health benefits like lower blood pressure and a high number of antioxidants, but plenty of brands are also dairy-free. Read the label as some brands add milk, but dark chocolate is one of the safer snacks. 

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6. Beans

Ideally, we’re trying to veer away from gas, but beans are an ultimately healthy choice for lactose-intolerant people. Not only are they high in protein, they’re one of the best non-dairy calcium sources. 

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7. Sorbet

When you need a cool treat on a hot day, it’s sorbet to the rescue. Unlike ice cream or even sherbet, sorbet is a dairy-free option perfect for lactose-intolerant people. 

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8. Leafy Greens

You may recoil at vegetables, but they’re an amazing source of calcium and need a spot in your everyday diet. Cooked leafy greens, in particular, contain all kinds of vitamins and minerals. 

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9. Tofu

Tofu is a versatile, plant-based dietary option. It doesn’t have any dairy and can be especially helpful against lactose intolerance deficiencies—some tofu is fortified with calcium, giving you the nutrients you need.  

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10. Almonds

Almonds are a superfood for a reason! They’re loaded with healthy fats and have all kinds of vitamins and nutrients, including a sizeable amount of calcium. 

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