An inability to digest, process and absorb sugar in the milk – i.e. lactose – leads to gastrointestinal difficulties and thus, lactose intolerance takes place.
Lactose is a sugar that is naturally found in milk and other dairy products. Many people are lactose intolerant in India and are always looking for ways to devise their food plan in a careful way. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is a 70% prevalence of lactose intolerance in Southern India and 30% in Northern India. Today, with expert insight from Shachi Sohal, H.O.D. Dietetics Deptt at BLK Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi let us have a detailed look at the food map for lactose intolerants.
First of all, let us understand the classified categories of lactose intolerance. Lactose deficiency has been classified into two main categories, namely:
Primary lactose deficiency: This is a genetic deficiency, which generally affects adults and is caused by absence of lactose.
Secondary or acquired: This lactose deficiency is caused by damage to the small intestine usually in infancy from gastroenteritis, loose motions for a long duration or frequent episodes of loose motions, or may be due to side effects of certain treatments such as chemotherapy.
Dietary treatment of lactose intolerance involves 3 basic steps:
-Identifying food items which contain lactose.
-Eliminating all sources of lactose from the diet.
-Establishing an individual tolerance level as the tolerance levels for lactose may vary widely in individuals.
Food items allowed in lactose intolerance are soya milk, which is 100% lactose free, vegetables such as fresh, frozen and canned vegetables without milk and its products, all kinds of fruits (fresh, frozen and dried), rice, wheat, popcorns, cereals, without milk, pasta, oats, barley, beef, pork, poultry and fish. Besides this, one can also relish butter, desi ghee, vegetable oil, peanut butter, non-dairy creamer, cake, gelatin, candy, jelly, fruit pie and all kinds of herbs and spices.
Foods to be avoided when you are a lactose intolerant are milk and its products like curd, home, and commercially packaged foods, whole, skim, tonned, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, cocoa mixes, creamed or breaded vegetables. Apart from this, one can also eat cereals added with milk and its products, egg, fish, meat or poultry with cream, cream, cheese, chips dip, salad dressing with cheese and milk. In the desserts category, one cannot eat ice-cream, souffle, pudding, custard, milk chocolate, bournvita and horlicks.
A few tips when preparing a lactose-free diet:
A lactose free diet or lactose restricted diet may be low in calcium, riboflavin and vitamin D. Hence, alternatives for these are advised. For instance, soya milk substitutes are used as milk replacement but individual tolerance should be considered for usage. But, only in consultation with a doctor/ dietician as supplements are advised in such cases. All labels should be carefully read for a milk-based ingredient. Check for dairy products, such as casein, dry milk solids, whey is used in many products carefully.
Milk and products made of milk are the natural sources of lactose, but lactose is used as a hidden source in many packaged foods, hence the ingredients must be carefully noted. Food products that may contain lactose include certain baked products, processed breakfast cereals, instant soups, and breakfast drinks, margarine, a few kinds of salad dressings, candies and other snacks and mixes for pancakes, biscuits, and cookies. Some products labelled non dairy, such as powdered coffee creamer and whipped toppings, also may include ingredients that are derived from milk and, therefore, contain lactose.
A sample day menu for a lactose intolerant person:
Early morning: Lemon water/tender coconut water / herbal tea – 1cup
Breakfast: Soya milk (100% lactose free) – 1 cup with 1 tbsp sugar. Along with this, you can have 2 slices of bread with jam inside it and 2 boiled eggs.
Mid morning: As a mid-morning snack one can go for a piece of fruit or a tall glass of fresh juice.
Lunch: At the time of lunch, one should aim at least 60 grams (1 katori) rice or 2-3 chapattis (depending on size) along with 1 katori/cup of any home-cooked vegetable, 1 cup dal or a non-veg dish. Accompany this with a nice bowl of green salad.
Evening snack: In the evening snack time go for either poha or idli or baked cutlets. If you want to keep it light, one cup of soy milk is also good enough.
Dinner: At the time of dinner, one should eat about 60 grams (1 cup) rice or 2-3 chapattis along with 1 cup of home-cooked vegetable, 1 cup dal or a non-veg dish. Accompany this with a nice bowl of green salad.