What is a balanced diet and how you can make it happen with food allergies

Medical and nutrition professionals are really good at making nutrition complicated. Most children, even those who have multiple food allergies, are still able to get the nutrients they need by eating a balanced diet. Also, a balanced diet goes way beyond eating “healthy” foods. For kids this means learning to trust their cues to know when they are hungry and full, learning to eat a variety of different foods, and for parents to trust that they will get there if we guide them without pressuring them. Beyond that though, don’t know what foods contain choline or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids?  Let us break down nutrition into the facts you need to know.

 

Balanced eating = an emotionally strong relationship with food

We all have happy food memories (thank you for forcing me to decorate thousands of Christmas Cookies mom!). However, for kids with food allergies food can cause stress. Remember to respect this in your child and never force them to eat anything they don’t want to. This is really important as they develop a relationship with food.  

 

Many of our social lives revolve around food. Be prepared and be ready to manage food allergies with your friends. You can do it.

 

Eat colorfully

This is a plug for fruits and vegetables. Does it matter what kind? Not really, as long as you are guided by the rainbow.

 

Mix up your protein

Every week get a mix of protein. Try fatty fish like salmon, meat, eggs, tofu, dairy, nuts, and legumes like beans or lentils. If you are following a plant based diet- legumes, beans, and tofu are great.

  • If you can have milk: we love yogurt and cottage cheese
  • If you can have tree nuts & peanuts: Nut butters are great
  • If you can have eggs: Try breakfast for dinner or an egg-salad sandwich
  • At Foublie, our favorite protein is salmon.

 

Whole grains for the win

Whole grains are harder to digest, so you get an extra bit of fiber (something many of us need!). They also make us feel more full. When you purchase packaged foods that are whole grain they are usually less processed. One way to check is reading those nutrition labels. A nice check is to try to pronounce the ingredients, especially those listed first.

 

If you get stuck in a rut

That’s ok! We all know some weeks are more hectic than others. But do you want to mix things up. Let the rainbow guide you. Can you add one new vegetable to the dish you always make? Riced cauliflower usually can be added with minimal disruption of taste and time.

 

Be ready for picky ones

This will happen so just get ready for it. Continue to serve new and a variety of foods but do it with something familiar like bread. Never beg a child to eat. Repeat. Don’t do it. Trust that over the course of the week or month they will get what they need. Be firm about what you serve for meals and trust that your kids will get what they need.

 

You must be balanced too

If you make a yuck face when you eat broccoli, your child will probably not want to try it or think it’s gross too. Try being adventurous for your children. Give all foods a try! Even ones you think you don’t like.

Think you hate peas? Try them mashed.

Are you boiling brussel sprouts? Please stop and sautee them with bacon. Which leads us to the next point.

 

Food is not bad nor is it a treat

We believe that no foods- like sweets or brownies- should ever be off limits. We were raised to believe that anything in moderation is OK. But that is us! You do you. If you want to avoid sweets at home, do it. We won’t stop you. One thing here that you must not do: never call a food bad or good. It is important to label foods safe and unsafe, and those labels are ok. Also, try not to elevate certain foods to a higher status. What does this mean? Try not to offer dessert as a reward for eating vegetables. It teaches your kids that ice cream is better than brussel sprouts (which it is, but they don’t need to know that yet 😉 ). Some experts recommend offering dessert at the same time you offer all the other foods and letting your kids even have it first. It normalizes it. They do recommend keeping it to just one serving though.


Hungry? Us too. If you want more detail on the exact nutrients the AAP has outlined to be necessary for kids and which foods may contain it, click here to see what Dr. Maria uses at home.