Needing A (insert food) Free Diet? See You At The GF & AF Expo!
Nowadays, it is more common than ever to know someone who is eliminating a certain food or ingredient from their diet. As a Registered Dietitian, I may be the one recommending this type of dietary change; other times, physicians will send their patients with a diet prescription. While for some these elimination diets are medically necessary; they are not a cure-all and not the best way to approach each and every gastrointestinal discomfort, skin rash, or headache that presents our way.
When we eliminate food groups or ingredients from our diets, we have to be aware of what nutrients we are eliminating along with them. For example, taking dairy out removes main sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein. When eliminating gluten, many decrease their fiber intake significantly and despite thinking that it is helping with decreasing their carbohydrate intake, it is not. Many gluten-free alternatives to our common foods are higher in carbohydrates than their wheat counterparts.
There are several reasons why someone would have to make diet changes that would require a food elimination. These conditions would include but are not limited to Celiac Disease; food allergies including anaphylactic reactions, FPIES, eosinophilic esophagitis; amongst a few others. Some conditions that may require someone to limit or modify foods include lactose intolerance, IBS, gluten intolerance/sensitivity; as well as a variety of other food intolerances. Whatever the case may be, it is important to ensure that you are familiar with what foods you can eat, what foods you should eat and what you should limit or avoid. In many occasions, these eliminations are not long term; in others, they are lifelong. Discussing your condition with your physician and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) will give you a guide as to the length of your diet needs. Visiting and receiving education from an RDN will help you create a balanced diet that will ensure optimal nutrition despite certain food eliminations.
Helping individuals or families that medically require a food elimination is one of the most satisfying parts of my profession! Often I get asked if I follow any type of elimination diet. Fortunately, I do not have any medical condition that requires me to avoid foods. At the same time, because of the nature of my profession and my years of experience as an RDN and mom; I can understand how challenging it can be to modify your day to day meals and snacks when having to be so detailed about each and every ingredient. I take time to look for new foods and get excited when mainstream brands come out with products that are appropriate for those needing special diets. Being familiar with food available helps me help others!
One of the best places offering the opportunity to learn more about brands and products available to those with special diet needs, is the GF & AF Expo (Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo). This 2 day event has been in Dallas, Texas for a few years now. The vendor fair has over 100 brands. Most of the vendors have coupons and samples for you to taste, and many have some for you to take home! You will also find discounted products available for purchase and you even get a FREE reusable bag to carry your goodies. I love sharing this info with my patients as I know the value of being exposed to different products and having a chance to give certain foods a try before spending money on something no one will eat.
If you have special diet needs, this is the place to be in Dallas on October 17th and 18th!
If you are not from the Dallas area, you may want to check their site as they also have expos in New Jersey, California, Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
Filed Under: Food Therapy, Dietitian Expertise, Family Nutrition, Nutrition Resources,