Lactose intolerance is very common; it affects 65% of all people! It’s understandable to have concerns about raising a little one who can’t eat dairy: How can you help them feel better? Are they getting the vitamins and minerals they need?
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, which is the sugar naturally found in milk and other dairy products. About thirty minutes to two hours after eating dairy products, symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and/or diarrhea will be present. Talk with your child’s pediatrician about your concerns. Most commonly, an elimination diet and a hydrogen breath test will be recommended to confirm or rule out lactose intolerance.
The good news is avoiding dairy products can eliminate symptoms of lactose intolerance. Most people with lactose intolerance can eat a small amount of dairy without any trouble. Once all symptoms have resolved, dairy can very slowly be added back into the diet to find the tolerable amount. Always check the ingredient lists on food labels. Lactose can commonly be found in milk, butter, cottage cheese, ice cream, sour cream, whipped cream, yogurt, pudding, milk chocolate, cream soups, whey, curds, dry milk solids, dry milk powder, milk by-products, and nougat. Some, but not all, products will list the warning “Contains Milk”.
Some dairy products are lower in lactose and may be easier to tolerate. These include yogurt with active cultures, sherbet, and aged cheese (blue, brick, cheddar, Colby, Swiss, and parmesan).
Calcium is an important mineral for kids. It is essential to the health and strength of bones and teeth, among other muscle, nerve, heart, and blood functions. Calcium is found in non-dairy products such as dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli), canned fish with soft bones (sardines, salmon), beans, almonds, Lactaid Milk or calcium fortified juice, soy, almond, rice or coconut milk. If you are concerned about your child’s calcium intake, consult your pediatrician or a registered dietitian.
Amrie Weiss is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for a variety of clients, offering servicessuch as nutrition counseling, analysis, education, speaking, and writing. In addition, she volunteers for the local Celiac Support Association and several garden-based education programs. Amrie earned a bachelor’s degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Diego State University and completed her dietetic internship at UC San Diego Medical Center. She serves on the board of the San Diego Dietetic Association and is a member of the California Dietetic Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To learn more about Amrie and the services she provides, please visit amrieweissrd.com.