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5 Ways to Replace Dairy When You're Lactose Intolerant

When you're lactose intolerant it can be challenging to avoid milk products, especially if you really enjoy them. The key is to choose alternatives that taste good and provide the same or similar nutrients. Here are five ways to replace dairy in your diet.

1. Dairy-Free Milk

Even if you're not a big milk drinker, you may be accustomed to adding milk to drinks, cereal or sauces. Many recipes call for milk. Depending on the extent of your lactose intolerance, you may want to eliminate milk from your diet completely.

If you are in the habit of drinking milk and are looking for a replacement, look for milk drinks made from rice, soy, almonds, oats or hemp seeds. To make sure you are receiving the calcium in regular milk, look for calcium-fortified products. You can find a variety of flavors, such as vanilla rice milk or chocolate almond milk.

2. Dairy-Free Cheese

For cheese lovers, being lactose intolerant can be a challenge. You have many cheese substitutes from which to choose. Many grocery stores and most health food stores carry cheese made from rice, soy, almonds and hemp. The flavors are generally labeled to resemble what you may already be used to. For example, you can find cheddar cheese made from rice. Soy cheese is available in cheddar, provolone and mozzarella.

When you buy these alternative cheeses, be sure to read the ingredient labels. Some contain casein, which is a milk protein that causes issues for some people who are lactose intolerant. For some people whose lactose intolerance is not extreme, cheeses made from sheep's milk or goat's milk may also be an option. Goat cheese or feta cheese made from sheep's milk tend to cause fewer problems for some people.

3. Dairy-Free Butter

Dairy-free butter options are useful for spreading on toast, baking and mixing into recipes. Look for dairy-free butter and margarine made from coconut oil. Ghee is also an option. It's a form of butter that is free of casein and lactose.

4. Dairy-Free Yogurt

Yogurt is usually a good low-calorie dessert. In the case of some people with lactose intolerance, yogurt is not problematic. However, if it causes problems for you, you don't have to give up this dessert option because yogurt comes in dairy-free varieties. Many health food stores sell yogurt made from rice or soy. In some cases, you will find these yogurt options with added fruit flavors. You will also find dairy-free yogurts in a plain flavor, which is particularly useful for Mediterranean diets that use plain yogurt as a side dish.

5. Dairy-Free Ice Cream

Ice cream can be one of the more difficult milk products to give up. However, you have access to milk-free varieties made from soy, rice, hemp and almonds. Sherbet is also an option because it usually doesn't contain milk. Gelato may be a possible choice for you if your lactose intolerance is very mild. It usually contains less butterfat than ice cream.

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