11 Diet Tweaks for a Better Food Allergy Diet

Woman holding up apple slice while packing lunch

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It’s pretty universal to want to be a healthy person—full of vim and vigor and living a long and healthy life. One way to be healthy is to eat healthy food. While eating healthy food isn’t the be-all, end-all to your health (there’s much more that goes into it), there is a lot you can do with your diet to improve it and fine-tune your eating habits. This is especially important if you’re living with a food allergy and its associated food restrictions.

How to Improve Your Food Allergy Diet

Structure Your Eating. Eating with a time frame in mind may help you normalize your appetite and prevent episodes of extreme hunger and overeating. Aim to eat every 3-5 hours and avoid long stretches with nothing to eat in between, as this encourages a ravenous appetite and little control over how much you eat. Some more recent research has identified a time-restricted phase of eating spelled out to the tune of eating within a 12-hour interval during the day (e.g. 8 am to 8 pm only), to reduce excessive weight gain and perhaps even reverse it. These studies have been conducted in mice, so they need further verification in humans, but a promising idea, no doubt!

Anchor Down With the 5 Food Groups. If you wonder whether you get enough vitamins and minerals, ideal amounts of protein, or are on target with your fat intake, take the question out of the equation by focusing on the food groups. Getting a balance of all the food groups, including dairy, fruit, vegetables, grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats will keep you covered with plenty of the essential nutrients you need to be and stay healthy.

Scale Down on Sugary Treats. National surveys show we eat too much sugar. Indeed, even our littlest citizens are getting far too much sugar in their diet. Part of the problem is that sugar hides in our everyday food, even in food which we believe is “healthy,” such as cereal, yogurt, sports drinks, and granola bars, potentially pushing sugar intake into the ozone. The other part is that we love our sugary treats—decadent or not—and manage to include them in our daily eating. If you can, take an honest assessment of where your sugar is coming from and try to cut it down by half.

Nix the Liquid Sugar. Soda, juice, juice drinks, sports drinks, shakes, ades and more are filled with sugar and add to sugar consumption. The surprising fact with sugary beverages is that people often don’t count them as part of their diet, forgetting that these beverages have extra sugar and calories. Choose water over calorie-filled beverages most, if not all, of the time.

Pack Your Lunch. Bringing a packed lunch to work or school offers a budget-friendly way to make sure you get a healthy, safe, allergen-free lunch. Yes, it takes a little bit more time to pack lunch, but you have complete control of what goes in there, and you’ll be more likely to eat what you pack. In other words, you have the opportunity to make it a healthy addition to your diet or not.

Scale Back on Dining Out. Eighty-three percent of US consumers eat out at fast food establishments once a week. Sixty-eight percent visit casual dining restaurants at least once a week. Dining out means higher risk for cross-contamination with food allergens, more expense, and more calories, in general. Try to cut back on dining out and do more cooking at home, but if you can’t, try to make healthy food choices when out to eat the norm. For more specific information on dining out with food allergies, see this dining out guide.

Drink More Water. Water is calorie-free, a physical requirement for normal bodily functions, and has many benefits to your overall well-being. Drink more!

Pay Attention to Protein. A University of Missouri researcher found that eating a protein-packed breakfast including about 20 grams of protein (foods like eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt) helped study participants improve their satisfaction after eating and reduced their likelihood of overeating later on in the day. If you're allergic to egg, you might want to try these eggless high protein breakfast ideas.

Shrink Your Plate. Studies show that eating meals on smaller plates translates to eating less. If you’re using Frisbee-sized plates for mealtime, consider downsizing to a salad plate to help you manage the quantity of food you eat.

Wisen Up With Whole Grains. If you missed the message, it’s time to swap your white flour-based foods with whole grains. Why? They are healthier for your body, may help you feel full after eating, and are proven to benefit your heart and protect you from certain cancers. Being allergic to wheat isn’t an excuse to stick with refined grains! Check out these nutritious, fiber-filled wheat alternatives.

Forego the Fried Fare. You probably know that French fries are fried. And that calamari and tempura are as well. But did you know that many snack chips are fried? Yes, tortilla chips, potato chips, and other snack chips tend to be fried. To tune up your diet, step away from the fried stuff and go for baked options. The upside? You’ll cut down on your fat intake and total calories.

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Article Sources

  • A 12-Hour Window for a Healthy Weight, available at NY Times blog. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/a-12-hour-window-for-a-healthy-weight/

  • Eating Out Behavior in the U.S. http://www.statista.com/topics/1957/eating-out-behavior-in-the-us/

  • Protein-rich breakfast reduces food cravings and overeating later on. From: Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519113024.htm