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Low-Lactose Diet

Lactose Diet Diet
milk products contain lactose (or milk sugar). Your doctor or registered dietitian may recommend a low-lactose diet after radiation therapy to the intestines, which often makes lactose hard to digest for a time. Fermented milk products, such as buttermilk, acidophilus milk, sour cream, and yogurt, usually are easier to handle than whole milk. You also can buy low-lactose milk or use liquid drops or caplets that help break down the lactose in milk and other dairy products. Lactose is often used as a filler in many products such as instant coffee and some medicines. Carefully read labels on commercial foods to see if they contain lactose or any milk products or milk solids.

Lactose tolerance varies from person to person. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian about choosing allowed foods and about low-lactose dairy products that you can buy at the grocery store.


Type of Food
Allowed Items
Excluded Items

Water, lactose-free carbonated beverages, fruit-flavored drinks, fruit punches, lemonade, limeade, nondairy product drinks, low-lactose milk, acidophilus milk, coffee, and tea*
Artificial fruit drinks containing lactose, all beverages and nutritional supplements made with milk and milk products with the exception of buttermilk, low-lactose milk, and yogurt**

Any cooked or dry cereal not containing lactose
Instant hot cereals, high-protein cereals, all cereals with added milk or lactose


Fermented cheeses (cheddar and any cheese aged with bacteria)
All others

Fruit ices; gelatins; angel food cake; desserts made with nondairy products, buttermilk, or sour cream
Ice cream, puddings, and other desserts containing milk or milk products

All except raw eggs and eggs prepared with milk or milk products
Creamed, scrambled, omelets, or other eggs prepared with milk; raw eggs

Margarine not containing milk solids, vegetable oils, mayonnaise, shortening
All others: cream, half-and-half, table and whipping cream, butter

Fruits, fruit juices
All fresh, canned, or frozen fruit juices; fruits not processed with lactose
Any canned or frozen fruits and fruit juices processed with lactose

Meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts
Any except those specifically excluded
Creamed or breaded fish, poultry, meat; cold cuts, hot dogs, liver, sausage, or other processed meats containing milk or lactose; gravies made with milk

Milk, milk products
Fermented milk products such as acidophilus milk, buttermilk, yogurt, and sour cream; low-lactose products; “lactose-digesting” pills or caplets
All milk, milk products except those allowed

Potatoes, rice, pasta
White or sweet potatoes, macaroni, noodles, spaghetti or other pasta, rice
Any prepared with milk, such as commercially prepared creamed or scalloped potato products containing dried milk

Broth-based soups
Cream soups, chowders, commercially prepared soups that contain milk or milk products

Honey, jams, preserves, syrups, molasses
Candy containing lactose, milk, or cocoa; butterscotch candies, caramels, chocolates (Read all labels carefully.)

All vegetables except those prepared with milk
Any prepared with milk, such as creamed, scalloped, or any processed vegetables containing lactose

Catsup, chili sauce, horseradish, olives, pickles, vinegar, gravies prepared without milk, mustard, all herbs and spices, peanut butter, unbuttered popcorn
Chocolate, cocoa, milk gravies, cream sauces, chewing gum, instant coffee, powdered soft drinks, artificial juices containing milk or lactose



½ cup fruit juice
1 serving cereal
1 slice toast
1 tsp margarine
1 cup acidophilus or low-lactose milk
salt and pepper

2 tbsp peanut butter
jelly or honey

3 oz meat or substitute
½ cup vegetable and/or salad
2 slices bread or roll
2 tsp margarine*
1 serving fruit
salt and pepper

Broth-based soup
1 slice bread or roll
1 tsp margarine*

1 serving salad
3 oz meat or substitute
½ cup rice
½ cup vegetable
1 serving fruit or dessert
1 cup acidophilus or low-lactose milk
salt and pepper

½ cup juice
popcorn or pretzels

Other useful Diets information: Evolution diet | Gout diet | Vegetarian diet | Food Pyramid diet | Negative calorie diet | Sonoma diet | Perricone diet | Lemonade diet | Nutrisystem diet | Graham diet

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