Why does ice cream upset my stomach but not milk?

Why does ice cream upset my stomach but not milk?

This is one of the more commonly asked questions that I get from friends. “Why does ice cream upset my stomach, but I’m absolutely fine drinking milk?”. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve been asked that throughout my time making ice cream.

The answer is actually pretty simple. Usually, ice cream is higher in fat content than milk. Much higher, in fact. You body may be able to process small amounts of fat, so you’d notice even more of a difference if you regularly consume skimmed or semi skimmed milk.

If you didn’t already know, ice cream doesn’t actually have any milk in it. If you’re making your ice cream with milk, you’re actually making gelato! And whilst I love gelato too, there’s a big difference between the two and the way that they’re churned.

There’s also the fact that whilst gelato doesn’t have a minimum fat content, ice cream does. Currently in the US, ice cream must contain a minimum of 10% fat to be classified as ice cream. This high fat percentage explains why you might be having issues digesting the large amounts of lactose that you’ll find in an ice cream.

Why does ice cream upset my stomach but not milk?

Issues Digesting Lactose

If you’re having issues digesting lactose, then trying a gelato is a good way to minimize any issues you face if you find yourself with an upset stomach. If you’re having issues even with gelato, then you can look at trying a nice sorbet┬áto completely avoid dairy altogether.


Another option that many dairy lovers opt for when they’re trying to avoid ice cream itself is to go for another variation of milk entirely. As veganism increases in popularity year on year, it’s not surprise that many people are looking for an alternative to regular milk.

Now, there are many alternatives that you can try, but here’s some of the best alternatives that work well with ice cream.


Soy is probably one of the most common alternatives to milk, not just in an ice cream sense, but for milk too. If your child has a strong dairy allergy, then the likelihood is that they won’t be able to stomach milk either. To combat this, soy is usually a safe bet to go for. Though, it does come with an acquired taste that you’ll need to get used to.

Coconut Milk

If you’d like to try something with a plainer taste than soy milk, then coconut milk might be a good option for you. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for something a little different.

Almond Milk

Ah, the new(er) kid on the block. When you’re looking to cut milk out of your diet, it’s typical to switch to soy. Well, it was until almond milk came and dominated the scene a few years ago. Almond milk is an awesome alternative, and you may noticed that you’re seeing more almond milk ice creams at your local store, too. This is great for those people out there who are looking to avoid the stuffiness build up associated with lactose and dairy products.


So, to conclude; it’s pretty normal for you to find that you can’t digest ice cream the same way that you can digest milk or other dairy products. This is because of the high fat content in ice cream that makes it specifically hard to digest (I’m guessing you probably have the same issues with cheese too right?).

To avoid this, you can always try and find lactose free ice cream or take a lactase tablet if necessary. Personally, I’d just switch over my eating habits to sorbet – you know that you’re completely avoiding all dairy with sorbet and you won’t need to worry about getting an upset stomach.

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