In this series, we ask dietitians across Canada to answer your questions on nutrition and dietary support. We recently spoke with Amy Chow, a registered dietitian based in Langley City, BC.
This month, Amy answers a question on meal planning and food allergy.
What are some tips for meal planning when a family member has food allergy?
Meal planning takes time and effort, and food allergy can add another layer of considerations. Here are a few things to consider for meal planning when someone in your family has food allergy.
1. Make a list of common food preferences
Managing a food allergy on top of addressing each family member’s food preferences can feel overwhelming. To help with this, make a list and write down all the foods in each food group that your family likes or is willing to try. Try to include a variety of food groups (protein, grains, fruits, veggies) for taste, balance, and nutrition. If your family has any go-to recipes, include them here too!
2. Draft out a dinner plan for 3-5 days of the week
Many people struggle with dinner ideas, whether food allergy is involved or not. Planning out a few dinners for the week can help eliminate the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” question and puts a game plan in place for grocery shopping and meal prepping. Incorporate at least one of your family’s go-to recipes in your plans. Consider having allergy-friendly theme nights such as Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday for an extra dose of inspiration and fun! Taking time over the weekend to plan a few dinners, shop, prep ingredients and even batch cook ahead can also make your upcoming week a lot easier.
3. Keep it simple for other meals and snacks
Keep your breakfast basic by sticking to 1-2 meal rotations and leaving room for more adventurous recipes for the weekends. Keep it interesting by changing up your rotations every 2-3 weeks. Make use of dinner leftovers for lunches. Use the above list of your family’s food preferences and mix and match 3-4 food groups for a meal and 1-2 food groups for a snack. Additionally, adapt these lunch and snack ideas and more snack ideas as needed for your family’s allergen(s).
The positive news is that good eating habits can be encouraged from a young age and helping your family make healthy food choices while navigating food allergy is entirely possible.
Do you have a food allergy-related question you’d like to ask a dietitian in the months to come? If so, send it along to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note: The dietitians featured in this series answer questions on general topics, please talk to your doctor if you have questions about your own health or the health of your child.
Tags: Amy Chow, ask the dietitian, Meal Planning