Lactose Free Diet

The lactose-free diet is used in the treatment of lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in milk, and therefore dairy products, as well as other foods containing milk. One doesn’t have to give up milk or dairy products entirely when lactose intolerant, as there are a variety of lactose-reduced and lactose-free milk and dairy products available. There are also lactase enzyme tablets (LactAid, Lactase) available without a prescription, which can be taken just before a meal or snack containing lactose.  It’s important to seek out other sources of calcium on a lactose limited diet. Broccoli, leafy greens, canned salmon, almonds, oranges, tofu and soy milk (read labels), and calcium-fortified breads and juices are good sources of calcium besides milk or dairy products. Calcium supplements are also an option.

Diet Guidelines:

Milk and Milk Products

Choose: 100% lactose free milk, soy milk, rice milk.

Avoid:  whole milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, skim milk, buttermilk, acidophilus milk, Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, instant hot cocoa and chocolate mixes, cheese


Choose: fresh, frozen, canned vegetables without added milk or milk products, tomato and tomato puree, tomato and spaghetti sauces without cheese

Avoid: creamed or breaded vegetables, packaged dried potato mixes, tomato and spaghetti sauce with cheese


Choose: fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit

Avoid: none

Bread and Grains

Choose: water-based breads: (Italian, French, Jewish Rye), rice, rice and popcorn cakes, graham crackers, pareve-Jewish bakery products, cooked and dried cereals without added milk solids, pasta, oats, barley, cornmeal, bulgur and other plain grains

Avoid: the following made with milk or milk products: breads, rolls, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, sweet rolls, waffles, crackers, instant dry cereals with added milk products, some packaged grain mixed, packaged macaroni mixes (read labels for food allergen statement)

Meat and Meat Substitutes

Choose: beef, lamb, pork, veal, wild game, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, kosher prepared meat products, peanut butter, peas, beans, lentils, all nuts and seeds, tofu

Avoid: breaded or creamed fish, meat, poultry, lunch meats (unless labeled lactose-free) hot dogs, sausage, egg substitutes (check label)

Fats and Oils

Choose: bacon, butter, margarine (no milk derivatives-whey) salad dressings free of cheese or milk, vegetable oils, olives, most non-dairy creamers, mayonnaise, gravy made without milk or labeled lactose-free.

Avoid: cream, half and half, sour cream, cream cheese, chip dips, whipped toppings, salad dressings made with cheese or milk, margarine with milk products (whey)

Sweets and Desserts

Choose: angel food cake, gelatin, fruit ice, popsicles, fruit roll ups, sorbet (read label), Italian ice, hard candy, gum drops, jelly beans, licorice, fruit pie fillings.

Avoid: ice cream, ice milk, some brands of sherbet, soufflé, mousse, pudding, custard, packaged dessert mixes, milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, butterscotch


Choose: vegetable juices, fruit juices, tea, carbonated beverages, coffee, tea, beer, wine, distilled spirits, lactose free nutritional supplements (Ensure, Boost)

Avoid: instant ice tea, instant coffee, chocolate drink mixes, cordials, liqueurs, carnation instant breakfast


Choose: bouillon, broth, meat or vegetable stock soups, bisques and chowders made with water, soy milk, or 100% lactose reduced milk

Avoid: cream soup, canned and dehydrated soup mixed containing milk products


Choose: popcorn, plain pretzels, plain potato and corn chips, salsa, mustard, ketchup, pickles, uncreamed horseradish, relish, sauces made without milk, sugar, honey, jams, maple and corn syrup, molasses, herbs, spices, salt, pepper.

Avoid: cream or cheese sauces, ranch style or cheese flavored snack pretzels or chips, cheese curls, sugar substitutes with lactose added, meds and vitamins with lactose added (speak with pharmacist)