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Diet and Nutrient Needs on a Food Allergy Diet

If you are, or live with, a custom eater, you know how challenging it can be to get affordable and tasty meals and snacks on the table every day. When you're also trying to maintain a goal weight or eat a diet w/restrictions for health problems like diabetes or high cholesterol, that challenge grows exponentially. 

Anyone who modifies their diet risks missing out on key nutrients, though. Some are obvious: fluoride in tap water, iodine in table salt, calcium in dairy products. But Americans especially don't usually reach daily whole-food goals for veggies, fruits, or even healthy proteins. And, although foods made at home are overall more healthful than processed store-bought versions, there is still a chance you're cutting out important vitamins without realizing it. 

I'm pulling together my health professional background with my experiences as a food allergy mom to start exploring the nutrients we get from some of those fortified foods (like bran-based breakfast cererals) that we might lose when we radically change eating habits. Some personal examples we've experienced this summer and fall include:
  • adding extra calcium, D, and phosphorus for my daughter (in one sugar-free gummy) when she stopped all milk-based foods and replaced mealtime drinks with green teas or water 
  • adding a B complex vitamin when I switched from fortified cereals and oat-based breakfasts to homemade overnight oats, granola, or rye crackers and fresh fruit
  • balancing iron intake from leafy greens and proteins from vegan sources like edamame more carefully as we change our meat-protein consumption for new allergies
It's easy to get overwhelmed with specifics of a diet, but looking at the big picture (like assessing your meals once a week instead of a few times a day) can keep you and your nutrients balanced. Great resources are out there for everyone and for food allergy/celiac families, too. 

Interested in this topic? I've started posting on the topic at http://foodallergypantry.weebly.com/blog/preventive-health-with-food-allergies and hope to keep a regular cycle going. I'd love to hear about what you do to keep nutrition on the right track with food restrictions.

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