As a parent, it’s essential to remember that everyone is different. Each member of your brood may not be able to eat the same foods, so you must be actively engaged in meal planning. If you’ve recently discovered that someone in your family is allergic to a certain food or has a medical concern like acid reflux or diabetes, follow these tips to ensure everyone is healthy and well-fed.
Meal Planning for the Family
Regardless of whether someone in your family has a dietary restriction or not, it’s wise for parents to add meal planning into the weekly routine, as the act has many benefits. For one, it’s easier to predict what you’ll serve for every meal in the upcoming week, making grocery shopping much easier. On top of that, you can plan meals that will keep dietary restrictions in mind so you don’t miss any important details and accidentally prepare a meal that could hurt a member of your family.
Proper planning can also help you prepare many meals ahead of time. That way, you have everything ready when your family sits down at the table. Utilize food storage containers to keep everything fresh and label them so there’s no confusion. You can install a meal-planning app on your phone or write in a journal to easily track every meal.
Caution With Allergies
Food planning is critical when you have children with allergies because some reactions can cause discomfort and pain, with a few of the ailments including skin rashes, upset stomach, and difficulty breathing.
Many common allergies include:
When you’re meal planning for a family with any of these or the other common allergies, focus on and write out a list of the foods your family can eat so you know what you have to work with. If they’re allergic to an ingredient that’s included in a variety of meals, then stick to the list of what they can eat, but mix it up with different types of food preparation. Grill the food one day, saute it the next, etc.
Although only one family member may have an allergy, making one meal for them and another for the rest of the family can be difficult and time-consuming. To make it fair, the best strategy is to stop buying the harmful ingredients altogether and avoid cooking them in any of your meals. In addition to helping your family to act as a united front, this strategy will also prevent the possibility of harmful cross-contamination or accidental spillage.
Meal Planning for Acid Reflux
If someone in your family has some form of acid reflux, then you’re not alone, as the condition affects 20% of the population. The most common variant is called GERD, and it affects at least 10% of children; complications can include chronic cough, laryngitis, and pneumonia that keeps coming back. Needless to say, meal planning is essential if anyone in your family has acid reflux, and you can do that by avoiding food that typically triggers acid reflux, including:
- Fried food
- Fast food
- Carbonated beverages
Instead, please focus on the foods that are best for controlling reflux, including low-acid fruits, green vegetables, and foods that have fiber because it acts as a digestive aid. While you should avoid fast food, you can plan meals that incorporate healthy fats. One of the healthy fats that you should always look for is monounsaturated fats. They’re often found in tasty foods, like almonds and olive oil.
Children With Diabetes
It’s an unfortunate fact that many children also deal with the struggles associated with the four types of diabetes:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
All of these variants can be made worse by an unhealthy lifestyle and the food we eat. So parents will need to constantly monitor their children. You need to regularly check them out to ensure their blood glucose and blood sugar levels are in the right place. Then, if necessary, make the proper adjustments. A proper diet should include:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Lean protein
- Complex-carb-rich foods
- Non-sugary drinks
As you plan meals for a family member with diabetes, it’s important to read food labels and check the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in any food you buy. Look for positive keywords, like “zero grams of added sugar” and “unprocessed.” Pair a healthy diet with plenty of exercise, but check their blood sugar levels before they start playing so they aren’t overdoing it.
These are just a few considerations to make when meal planning for a family with dietary restrictions.
Remember that how you plan will depend on the type of allergy or ailment your family may face. Put a system in place and monitor your child’s health along the way, and you’ll all be in good shape come mealtime.