How to Lose Weight Safely With Food Allergies

Being on a restricted diet doesn’t mean that you automatically lose weight (despite what your friends might say). In fact, the problem could be just the opposite: you actually gain weight on your allergy-friendly diet.

Fresh produce in baskets at a Farmers Market
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This could happen because you’re relying a bit too much on prepackaged snacks like potato chips that are allergen-free, but not so great for the waistline. Or you may decide to reward yourself with treats more often than you should simply because you feel deprived otherwise.

Whatever the reason, those of us with food allergies may need to lose weight, too. So here are 6 weight-loss tips that can help:

1. Choose the Right Diet Plan for You

There are so many diet plans out there—low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie—that it can be hard to choose. If you have food allergies, it is best to steer clear of diets that involve drinking mystery shakes or that restrict your food intake to one or two food groups. That means the grapefruit diet is out the door, but diets that involve eating reasonable portions of many different types of food are probably fine.

Think about your allergies when choosing a diet plan:

  • If you have oral allergy syndrome, in which your mouth tingles or swells after certain eating raw fruits or vegetables, a raw food diet might be a challenge for you.
  • If you are allergic to many types of protein—for example, dairy, egg, soy, and nuts—then low-carb diets such as Atkins are not the best choice.

2. Consult a Nutritionist

If you are avoiding multiple allergens, it can become challenging for you to get all of the nutrients you need on a daily basis. Before starting a weight-loss plan, talk to a nutritionist about strategies for eating fewer calories while getting more nutrition. You can use a calorie calculator to help determine how much you should eat.

A licensed nutritionist should have experience designing custom diets for people with food allergies (don’t be afraid to interview a nutritionist before hiring him/her to make certain). A good nutritionist can help you to choose a type of diet that will work for your allergy needs.

3. Focus on Whole Foods

The biggest diet-killers are restaurant and prepackaged foods that are loaded with more salt, sugar, and calories than you would normally add at home (those allergy-friendly chips are a good example of this). People who cook and eat at home tend to maintain their weight better than people who rely on restaurants or take-out. Those of us with food allergies have a head start on cooking at home; we just need to tweak our cooking a little bit for weight loss.

  • Choose single-ingredient snacks. Instead of reaching for that allergy-free granola bar, try an apple or a handful of baby carrots instead.
  • Use whole grains such as brown rice instead of white rice. Whole grains have more fiber and can help you feel full faster.
  • Watch the fat. It’s easy to pour a glug of oil into the pan before making a stir-fry. Measuring out just one tablespoon of oil can help you to rein in the calories of your favorite dishes.

4. Make Your Own “Packaged” Snacks

Make the easiest snack to grab when you’re running out the door a healthy, low-calorie snack that fits your diet.

  • Cut up veggies and place them in containers in the front of the fridge.
  • Have a fruit bowl on your kitchen table.
  • Make your own 100-calorie snacks. Small plastic bags of sunflower seeds or gluten-free pretzels can easily be tossed into a lunch box or purse.

5. Keep a Food Diary

You may already be keeping track of the foods you eat to get a handle on your allergies, but if not, keeping a food diary is a great way to lose weight. You can do this online or the old-fashioned way with a notebook and pencil. Keeping track of what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat can help you identify emotional eating triggers, and also prevent you from mindlessly munching.

6. Get a Little Help From Your Friends

Find a friend to join you in setting a weight-loss goal, or try one of the many online dieting programs that have chat rooms for social support.

  • Seek support from family and friends. Friends and family can be your greatest cheerleaders or a source of diet sabotage. Learn how to get them on your side.
  • Try it online. Join a weight loss support forum and get advice and support from other dieters.
2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS).

  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Food allergies and intolerances.

By Jeanette Bradley
Jeanette Bradley is a noted food allergy advocate and author of the cookbook, "Food Allergy Kitchen Wizardry: 125 Recipes for People with Allergies"