Lactose Intolerance is a bigger problem than the letters in the word itself. Now this is a condition in which the body has a hard time digesting milk sugar (lactose), a natural sugar found in milk and dairy products.
There is an enzyme called lactase which is produced in the small intestine. This breaks down the sugar lactose present in milk and other dairy products. Kids who are lactose intolerant have less or no production of this enzyme LACTASE.
How will a little baby or a toddler explain that, ‘Mom, I can’t digest your breast feed or the top milk that you are feeding me’. Along with the child it is too much of a challenge firstly for the mother that her child cannot digest milk. Milk is usually the food for first 6 months in any child’s life.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS
- Unexplained crying,
- Abdominal/Lower belly pain
- Loose or foamy stools/diarrhea
- Gurgling sound in the tummy
STEPS TO BE TAKEN
Parents should systematically eliminate milk and other dairy products from their child’s diet. Avoidance is the best treatment.
The dairy products like yogurt and cheese can be reintroduced overtime. The symptoms post introduction should be noticed. If there is no problem other milk products and diluted milk can be introduced. If there are negative symptoms then stop immediately.
Some kids can tolerate small amounts of milk products or certain types of milk products without problems while others cannot tolerate even little.
HOW TO MEET THE CALCIUM REQUIREMENTS
A big challenge for people whose kids are lactose-intolerant is learning how to eat to avoid discomfort and to get enough calcium for healthy bones.
Although it is definitely possible for children to get the calcium they need for strong bones without dairy.
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, dried figs, and sardines are among the most calcium-rich non-dairy foods, Other foods that contain good amount of calcium are Tofu, sesame seeds, ragi, almonds, Moong, kidney beans, urad dal, Chana, Amaranth and curry leaves.
Try and add one of these food items in every meal.
LITERAL MILK SUBSTITUTES FOR OVER 6 MONTH OLDS
If a child is lactose intolerant, there are chances that he/she is partially intolerant and in some cases may be able to digest yogurt. This is because yogurt has active bacterial cultures and also has less lactose as compared to milk. Yogurt may cause less bloating because much of the lactose has already been broken down by its ‘good’ bacteria.
- SOY MILK
The immediate option for a child with lactose intolerance is soy milk. Some kids may reject it initially due to its taste but eventually get used to it. Do not opt for the flavoured versions instead go for natural.
However, if your child has a milk allergy which is different from lactose intolerance he or she may also be allergic to soy milk. Avoid using soy milk as a substitute for anyone with a milk allergy.
- OTHER KINDS OF MILK
Goat, sheep, cow and Buffalo milk doesn’t help a child’s symptom because all milk from mammals contains lactose. However, for kids who don’t enjoy drinking soy milk there are some more options. Almond milk, which is loaded with magnesium and vitamin E. Rice milk, has almost no saturated fat and plenty of vitamin B12. Coconut milk, tastes creamy like cow’s milk. Other vegetable milks include oat and cashew. The only drawback is that these milks don’t work well with cooking.
Fermented cheeses have less lactose than other dairy products so a child may be able to tolerate them. It is a very good source of calcium and protein as well. Examples of hard or aged cheeses that are low in lactose are Swiss, Parmesan, and blue cheese. Now days, it is easy to find these cheese in metro cities.
For infants with lactose intolerance, formulas that contain no lactose can be used. Similac is an example of a milk-based formula that contains corn-syrup solids rather than lactose as its carbohydrate calorie source. Many soy-protein formulas also do not contain lactose and are suitable for lactose intolerant infants.
HIDDEN LACTOSE FOODS-WATCHOUT
If the child craves for ice cream parents generally substitute with sherbet. Ready-made sherbet does contain some dairy, but it’s a low-lactose food, Sherbet is a good example of a hidden source of lactose because you probably don’t think of it as a dairy product.
Other hidden sources of lactose include ready to eat soups, salad dressings, and processed breakfast foods. There is always a way out. A child can grow very normally without having milk in his/her diet. A mother will just have to substitute by providing foods rich in proteins and calcium that can completely substitute milk.