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What Is Lactose Intolerance and Lactose Sensitivity?

Did you know that dairy foods contain a sugar called lactose? Our bodies produce an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down the lactose sugar found in dairy and milk. Unfortunately, some of us have less lactase in our bodies, potentially causing you to experience gas, bloating, cramps, or diarrhea after you eat foods containing lactose, like milk.

Having less lactase enzymes and experiencing discomfort after eating high-in-lactose foods, like milk and cheese, is lactose intolerance. Since our discomfort to dairy and lactose varies based on our bodies, people have varying degrees of lactose intolerance, or lactose sensitivity.


Is Lactose Causing Your Sensitivity to Dairy?

Performing an at-home lactose intolerance test can help you find out if your sensitivity to dairy is caused by a sensitivity to lactose. All you have to do is eat! (Okay and track any discomfort you may feel.) If you aren't sure how your digestive system will react to dairy, you should take the test at a time that you'll mostly be home. If the evaluation indicates you may be sensitive to lactose, you should talk to your doctor who can help diagnose your condition.

Note: Lactose intolerance and sensitivity is very different than having a dairy allergy. If you have a dairy allergy, a condition where your immune system does not recognize one or more of the proteins in dairy products, this test is not intended for you and you should not continue with testing a lactose sensitivity.


Lactose Sensitivity Test Checklist

Use this simple checklist to track your discomfort during the lactose sensitivity test as outlined in the instructions below. If you experience any of these symptoms, circle the number indicating its intensity. Discomfort associated with lactose sensitivity and intolerance is typically experienced 30 minutes to two hours after eating dairy with lactose in it.

Day 1 Checklist

SYMPTOMS:
NONE
MILD
SEVERE

Gas

1

2

3

4

5

Bloating

1

2

3

4

5

Cramping

1

2

3

4

5

Diarrhea

1

2

3

4

5

Day 2 Checklist

SYMPTOMS:
NONE
MILD
SEVERE

Gas

1

2

3

4

5

Bloating

1

2

3

4

5

Cramping

1

2

3

4

5

Diarrhea

1

2

3

4

5


Lactose Intolerance Test Instructions

Day Before Test

Don't eat anything after 10 PM on the night before the test.

Day 1

  1. Enjoy a dairy-free breakfast, such as eggs and whole wheat toast and jam. It’s important to avoid any foods that contain dairy during this meal, including yogurt or cheese. You can find a list of foods that contain dairy at the bottom of this page. In addition to your meal, drink a large 12 fl. oz. glass of fat free regular milk.

  2. Over the next 3 hours after drinking the glass of milk, keep track of any discomfort you experience (gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea) and its intensity using the Day 1 test checklist above. Circle the number indicating the intensity of each symptom. Do not eat anything else during this time. Discomfort from a lactose sensitivity is typically felt 30 minutes to two hours after eating dairy.

    Note: If you experience any unusual stomach discomfort beyond the typical symptoms you normally experience after eating dairy, speak with a doctor immediately.

  3. After the 3-hour testing period, feel free to eat lunch and dinner as usual, but do not eat or drink anything after 10 PM.

Day 2

  1. Enjoy the same breakfast as Day 1, except replace the fat free regular milk with a large 12 fl. oz. glass of LACTAID® Fat Free Milk.

  2. Keep track of any discomfort you experience (gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea) and its intensity over the next three hours using the Day 2 test checklist above. Circle the number indicating the intensity of each symptom. Discomfort from a lactose sensitivity is typically felt 30 minutes to two hours after eating dairy. Do not eat anything during this time.

    Note: If you experience any unusual stomach discomfort beyond the typical symptoms you normally experience after eating dairy, speak with a doctor immediately.

  3. After the 3-hour testing period, feel free to eat the rest of your meals as usual.


Assessing Your Lactose Sensitivity Test Results

How did you feel on Day 2 compared to Day 1 of the test? If your stomach was upset on Day 1, but not on Day 2, or if the symptoms were milder than on Day 1, you may have a sensitivity to lactose and may be lactose intolerant. To determine this, we recommend talking with your doctor. If you have a lactose sensitivity, LACTAID® Products can help you eat dairy again without the discomfort. Learn more about living with lactose intolerance.


It’s Important to Consult with Your Doctor

The lactose intolerance test outlined here is simply a self-test. While this test can help you understand if you might have lactose intolerance, you should speak with a doctor to receive an official diagnosis.

To learn more about your symptoms related to dairy consumption and what they might mean, try taking our Lactose Intolerance Quiz.


List of Common Dairy Food and Beverages that Contain Lactose

FOOD & BEVERAGES
SERVING
LACTOSE (GRAMS)

Milk: whole, low-fat, skim

1 cup

12

Buttermilk

1 cup

12

Goat milk

1 cup

11

Fat free dry milk

⅓ cup

12

Half and half

2 tablespoons

Trace

Light cream

2 tablespoons

Trace

Whipped cream

2 tablespoons

Trace

Sour cream

2 tablespoons

1

Condensed milk, whole

2 tablespoons

4

Evaporated milk

2 tablespoons

3

Butter, margarine

1 tablespoon

Trace

Yogurt, low-fat

1 cup

5 - 12

Cottage cheese

½ cup

3 - 5

Ice cream

½ cup

6 - 9

Sherbert

½ cup

2

Cheese: american

1 slice

1 - 2

Cheese: cheddar, swiss

1 ounce

1 - 2

Cream cheese

1 ounce

1

FOOD & BEVERAGES
LACTOSE (GRAMS)

Milk: whole, low-fat, skim

SERVING1 cup

12

Buttermilk

SERVING1 cup

12

Goat milk

SERVING1 cup

11

Fat free dry milk

SERVING⅓ cup

12

Half and half

SERVING 2 tablespoons

Trace

Light cream

SERVING 2 tablespoons

Trace

Whipped cream

SERVING 2 tablespoons

Trace

Sour cream

SERVING 2 tablespoons

1

Condensed milk, whole

SERVING 2 tablespoons

4

Evaporated milk

SERVING 2 tablespoons

3

Butter, margarine

SERVING 1 tablespoon

Trace

Yogurt, low-fat

SERVING1 cup

5 - 12

Cottage cheese

SERVING½ cup

3 - 5

Ice cream

SERVING½ cup

6 - 9

Sherbert

SERVING½ cup

2

Cheese: american

SERVING1 slice

1 - 2

Cheese: cheddar, swiss

SERVING1 ounce

1 - 2

Cream cheese

SERVING1 ounce

1

Lactaid 2% Reduced Fat Milk Front of Package

LACTAID® Reduced Fat 2% Lactose-Free Milk

Lactaid vanilla lactose-free ice cream

LACTAID® Lactose-Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Lactaid Lactose-Free Sour Cream Front of Package

LACTAID® Lactose-Free Sour Cream


Lactaid Milk being poured into an iced coffee Lactaid Milk being poured into an iced coffee

Are You Lactose Intolerant?

Answer a few questions to see if your symptoms might be due to lactose intolerance or a milk allergy.

TAKE THE QUIZ