25 Helpful Resources for Special Dietary Needs

25 Helpful Resources for Special Dietary Needs

It recently dawned on me that we're beginning to define ourselves by the diet we follow. Are you Vegan? Paleo? Gluten-free? Flexitarian? Or just a NutriBlaster?

While it's very important to pay attention to what we put in our mouths, it shouldn’t be a hindrance to our social lives or leave us nutritionally deprived. For some of us, it’s a medical necessity to restrict certain foods and for others it may just be something you feel is appropriate to better your health. Either way, the more information we have about the foods we eat, the better we can stick to better health. Thankfully we have some great resources at our fingertips!

Calorie Counting

Many of you have asked about the nutritional profiles, particularly the calorie counts, of our recipes. Hopefully by now, you know I’m not a huge fan of counting numbers (here's my take on it and our weight loss expert Wally Bishop's take on it.) I do think that, when appropriate, free resources make low-calorie, weight loss eating simple.

Helpful websites and applications:

http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

http://www.calorieking.com/

http://www.loseit.com/

Do you rely on the Nutrition Facts Panel? Did you know that prior to the passing of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, there were only voluntary listings of nutritional content?

We’re now moving on to educating consumers outside the home! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two proposed regulations that would ensure calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines with 20 or more locations. The FDA is hoping to issue the final rules by the end of this year, 2013, once final comments are gathered.

Gluten-Free

As you may have read, gluten-free eating is only a necessity for those with Celiac disease or those who are otherwise gluten-intolerant. For whatever reason you may be avoiding this particular protein, here’s a few handy resources to make your life a bit more simple!

Shop at Whole Foods? If so, they provide a list of gluten-free products in their stores. How kind!

My second go-to grocer, Trader Joe’s, also provides a list for their branded products.

Live near a Publix? They’ve got a version, too. It seems like several chain grocers are meeting their customers’ demand for information like this. Check with your local supermarket to see if they have similar resources available to you.

Planning to eat out? Gluten Free Registry allows you to input your location if in the United States. You can then search through restaurants with gluten-free options and click to see the menu! Some provide a specific gluten-free menu, other restaurants you may have to call to get specifics.

Something similar may be available in your city, but I know my hometown of Austin, Texas has this wonderful gluten-free guide to the city, as well as a mobile app for iPhone and Android.

Vegan/Vegetarian

It has been shown that plant-based diets are among the healthiest diets for disease prevention and overall health. Whether you're following a vegetarian or vegan diet for health, ethical, or environmental reasons, feel confident that your selections are expanding and there are more conscious eaters who are on the lookout for eateries catering to your needs!

With listings for veg-friendly restaurants all over the world, you’ll never find yourself at a loss for meat-free meals.

Compassion Over Killing, a non-profit based in Washington, DC publishes Vegetarian Restaurant Guides for several big cities in the USA. Download your guides for Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington DC, and Baltimore!

Piggybacking on COK’s popular guides, VegSeattle lists restaurants as well as products and a local Farmer’s Market finder for the Emerald City.

The rest of the world is not forgotten! This veg-friendly finder includes several countries; the USA, Europe, Asia, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific Islands.

Other Dietary Concerns

If you are dealing with a medical condition, hopefully your doctor or personal Registered Dietitian has provided you with a list of foods you should or should not consume. If not, I strongly encourage you to reach out to them.

When cooking at home, the following websites can lead you to appropriate meals that may fit within those guidelines, as well as provide options for those who voluntarily follow a certain dietary regimen.

Whole Foods Market is at it again, providing special diet categories (dairy-free, fat-free, gluten-free, low fat, low sodium, vegan, vegetarian, wheat-free, raw, etc.) for each of their recipes.

Expand beyond just meat-free options and find out which ones are also dairy-free, gluten-free, low-calorie, low-fat, or completely vegan in this Vegetarian Times resource.

If you are curious which foods help build strong bones, fight cancer, boost heart health, or balance your hormones, among other ailments, the NutriBullet Natural Healing Foods book is just the thing to get you started Blasting for better health.

Let’s Get Political

I realize we often eat with other concerns beyond what's in line with the latest diet fad. It's important for many of us to know that what we put in our mouth is free of genetically engineered ingredients, is grown in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner, and is free of heavy metals like mercury or other toxins in fish.

You’ve probably seen the “Non GMO Project Verified” logo on several foods lately. This seal denotes products that are free of any and all genetically-modified ingredients. The guide is also downloadable on your iPhone.

Two resources to determine what to choose when eating seafood:

The Seafood Watch Pocket Guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (also available on iPhone and Android) and the Mercury in Fish wallet guide from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Let’s Have Fun!

Even Mickey Mouse is here to help you meet your dietary needs when you’re in the Happiest Place on Earth! I recall a guide at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA that you can purchase in the souvenir shop outlining each eatery in the park and what foods meet each particular dietary need.

*Please note that the resources listed in this article are for voluntary dietary restrictions vs. medical necessity (Celiac disease being the exception). The information in this article is strictly to be used as a resource for informational purposes, not for medical or dietary advice. We recommend you consult your doctor and/or Registered Dietitian before making any dietary changes. NutriBullet is not affiliated with any of the listed companies.

Registered Dietitian


Comments
Comment by yasiss
July 26, 2013
Wow, Krista! What a great collection of articles! I hope that everyone on the beta site will take a minute to review what you wrote and to "digest" it. I made a funny, Yasi
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