Building a balanced and healthy plate when you have food allergies, celiac disease, or another diet-treated disease can be a difficult task. Knowing your options can make it much easier to build healthy “free-from” meals for your family. Below I’ve listed some tips for building a “free-from” balanced and healthy plate and some different food options for each food group that are gluten-free and free from the top 8 most common allergens.
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients to support a healthy immune system and overall good health. They are also high in fiber, which helps support gut health and makes you feel full longer.
- Try to get a variety of different colors on your plate to help balance your meal. Each different colored fruit or vegetable has a different nutrient profile. Different colors contain different nutrients found in plants which support good health in many ways.
- Choose a 3 oz. portion of cooked meats (about the size of a deck of cards) and ½ cup portion (about a handful) of beans to support strong muscles and make you feel full longer.
- Choose ½ cup portion of cooked whole grains (about a handful). Whole grains are full of fiber to support a healthy gut and to help you feel full longer. They also contain vitamins and minerals that help our bodies to make energy from the food we eat.
There are several different food options for each food group, even when you have a diet-treated disease. Below I have listed different options for each group:
- Apples, bananas, berries, cherries, watermelon, peaches, pears, pineapple, kiwi, oranges, mango, grapes, cantaloupe, grapefruit, etc.
- Broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, asparagus, spinach, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, turnips, eggplant, onions, cauliflower, celery, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, corn, potatoes, leeks, etc.
- Chicken, turkey, game birds, beef, pork, beans, lentils, legumes, SunButter, etc.
- Gluten-free breads (Canyon Bakehouse), gluten-free flours (King Arthur’s), gluten-free pastas (Ronzoni), quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, rice, etc.
- Coconut milk, rice milk, coconut yogurt, flaxseed milk, etc.
- Additional Note: dairy products are large contributors of calcium, a nutrient that helps build and maintain strong bones. Not all dairy-free milks and yogurts are moderate to high calcium foods. It is important to include other foods that contain calcium when eating dairy-free. Free-from calcium-containing foods include:
- Calcium Fortified Rice Milks
- Dried Beans/Peas
- Dried Figs
- Collard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Calcium Fortified Orange Juice
I hope that we’ve given you more ideas for building a “free-from” healthy and balanced plate. For more Food Equality Initiative Resources, click here.
Disclaimer: It is important to remember that individual nutrition needs vary based on the person. This information is provided as general healthy-eating guidelines and is not meant to replace advice from a healthcare professional. If you have questions about your specific diet, contact a dietitian.