Hidden Dietary Disasters

When it comes to managing your lactose intolerance, most people think that simply eliminating milk products from their diet will do the trick. While it would be great if this were the case, unfortunately, it’s not always true. While the majority of people with lactose intolerance can handle small amounts of lactose (as would be found in the “hidden” lactose ingredients), those with more substantial intolerances, such as a complete lack of lactose production, or those who wish to be extra cautious with their dietary choices, should also avoid (or carefully monitor) some foods that you might not expect to cause a problem.

  • Breads and baked goods – In some circumstances, the method in which an item is cooked or processed can alter the lactose content, such as with cheeses; however, this is not true for baked goods. The lactose is not removed simply by baking alone. Opt instead for specially-labeled vegan or lactose-free breads and baked goods if you wish to avoid lactose.
  • Lunch meats – Added in order to act as a binding agent in some loaf-style meats, as well as to make them brown easier. This is always added in the processing stage as meat does not naturally contain any lactose. Opt to purchase meat that is specifically labeled “kosher” or “lactose-free” – in order to be considered kosher, the process must meet strict requirements that include milk products being separate from meat products, and in order to be labeled “lactose-free” it has to have an insignificant (or nonexistent) amount of lactose used in the production process.
  • Margarine – Often thought to be the dairy-free alternative to butter, this isn’t automatically the case. Some brands of margarine use casein to obtain the “buttery” flavor that they are known for, although brands such as Earth Balance and Smart Balance Lite (not the regular Smart Balance) do not. Make sure to read labels, or alternately find a different butter replacement.