Eating a well-balanced diet can be a challenge. But how do you satisfy your nutrient requirements when many foods are not safe for you to eat? Milk, wheat, soy and eggs are some of the staples of the American diet that are “booby traps” for individuals with food allergies or intolerances. Their omission, however, means the loss of significant nutrient resources.
As a result, individuals of all ages, with food allergies or intolerances may not be getting adequate nutrition, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Many sufferers are not eating the recommended number of servings in all the food groups.
In a study involving children with food allergies, researchers found that 41 percent were not eating enough milk products and 74 percent were consuming inadequate amounts of grains. The children were falling short of getting the recommended daily amount of vitamins A, C, D and E. Their diets were lacking in minerals, including calcium, iron, phosphorous, riboflavin and thiamine.
Long-term, nutrient deficiency can lead to health problems. Children who are not meeting their nutrient needs are at greater risk for growth problems, according to a hospital pediatric study. Children with two or more food allergies were studied and found to be shorter than those with one food allergy. One-fourth of the children in the study were consuming less than 67 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium, and vitamins D and E.
Getting adequate nutrition starts with finding alternative sources. This can be an intimidating task as the bulk of products in grocery stores contain milk, wheat, eggs and/or soy. Planning a well-balanced diet with the help of a dietician can be well worth the cost. Many doctors are beginning to make this a standard procedure for their food allergy patients.
I have struggled with getting adequate nutrition while having to eliminate milk, wheat and eggs. Wheat has been the most difficult for me to replace with other sources. In the past, I simply cut out grains from my diet, not realizing the consequences of this action.
I didn’t realize that the elimination of wheat flour can result in nutrient deficiency unless replaced by alternative flours such as rice, corn or rye. Grains are significant sources of riboflavin, thiamine, niacin and iron. Thiamine helps the body release energy from carbohydrates and plays a vital role in the normal function of the nervous system. Riboflavin has a similar role in helping the body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates.
It wasn’t until I began to show signs of vitamin/mineral deficiency that I began to realize I might have a problem with my diet. Some of my symptoms included tiredness, slow recovery from physical exertion, and wounds or injuries not healing quickly. My hair and nails were dry and brittle, and growing slowly. At that point, I decided to seek professional help.
Another place to start investigating dietary problems is at http://www.mypyramidtracker.gov. This U.S. Department of Agriculture website helps individuals see if they are getting adequate intake of recommended daily allowances. Recommendations are tailored to the individual’s age, weight and activity level. Begin by registering on the free website. Then, for several days, enter daily food intake and physical activity. The results will show deficiencies by food group, and vitamins and minerals.