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cooking for special diets

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

The vegetarian thread here got me thinking... do any of you have or cook for a family member who has a special diet for whatever reason?  How do you work their needs into your daily meal plan?  What do you do when you eat out?

 

My son had a benign brain tumor when he was 14.5 and part of his treatment included six weeks of radiation.  Since having radiation he has an abnormally sensitive gag reflex and struggles with textures of foods.  For some reason he can't tolerate red pasta sauce, but can tolerate it on pizza and he eats ketchup like it was a food group all on its own.  What I do is when we're having a tomatoey meal I will take his portion out before I add the tomatoes and I'll add other seasonings so he's not eating bland pasta with butter.  When we eat out he knows what he can and can't manage.  We love Indian food and live a short walk away from an amazing Indian restaurant and everything there (even if the sauce contains tomatoes) agrees with him.

 

We've never experienced anything negative when eating out... and if there is something he can't handle we'll ask for it to be left out of his dish if possible. 

 

We'll be going to Florida in late Jan/early Feb (hopefully if hubby and I can get that time off work ) and that means seven days of eating out.. this should be interesting!

 

Anyway I'm interested in hearing how you manage your own personal needs when it comes to food or those of your familly.

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post #2 of 9

Take a look at Dietary Card , Select Wisely , and Kids with Food Allergies for some ideas.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Those are great sites, Pete.  I don't know if they apply to my son but I do know a few people who would find their info very useful. 

 

I'm suspecting a week of chicken fingers and fries and pizza if I can get him to try it.  Both of my kids are silly when it comes to American pizza... my husband had a bad pizza experience in Boston many years ago and shared it with the kids and the last time we were in the  US neither of them dared get pizza when we had lunch.  I did and it was fine.. my only complaint was the veggies were thicker sliced than I would like them but I get that here too.

 

 

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post #4 of 9

I am a gluten-free and organic chef. So I am careful to use clean and healthy products.

post #5 of 9

I have to watch my sodium pretty closely. While not low sodium per se, It's tricky if I'm not in control of the cooking. 

 

If I'm traveling, managing breakfast and snacks is helpful. I tend to pack yogurts for snacks and breakfast. Dried fruit is a good snack too. Compact, light, healthy.  I've finally found some Granola I like from Nature's Path.  I like it plain as a snack but also as a mix in for my yogurt.  For a long time, I've not liked the commercial or homemade granola. I miss the shelf stable yogurt I could get in Europe. That was great to travel with.

 

I make sure to order salad and meals high in vegetables. I like vegetables, they tend to be lower sodium than other choices and I feel better eating it than heavier, richer foods. As parents, we require the children to select vegetables in their meals as well. They've gotten pretty good about ensuring some balance on their own at this point. 

 

I'm a fan of soup which tends to be higher sodium in restaurants, but is often a pretty good meal with a salad.

 

I almost always skip dessert at restaurants as well. So many of them are just sysco and not special anyway.

post #6 of 9

When I still lived at home, I often cooked for my parents.

My mother was on a low sodium diet and not fond of meat, so i learned to cook with lots of spices.

Most other people coming for dinner wouldn't notice that there was no salt in the food!

It did help that we had a vegetable garden with a lot of herbs, and since my dad didn't grow up in Western Europe we were exposed to a lot more different types of food than everyone around us.

The standard european fare at that time consisted of meat, boiled potatoes and (often overcooked) vegetables. Writing this, I feel old!!!  But as a youngster chinese take away or even pasta was considered extremely exotic!

Anyway, I found that a lot of the SE Asian food was very suitable for my mother to eat (low in meat, high in veges), you just had to be careful with some of the sauces/condiments

 

When we would go out for dinner, my mother would normally order fish and/or salads.

 

 

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post #7 of 9

Most restaurants have a variety of menu items to choose from or they can prepare certain things on special request for people on different types of diets.  Often if you explain what your needs are, the staff can tell you what they can offer you.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

I didn't even think about salt... I rarely cook with it as well.  My mother had to cut salt out of her diet when I was in middle school and I got used to the taste of food with out added salt.  My husband hasn't ever complained about my food being non-salty but one thing I had to learn when I started cooking in this business is to use salt.  The only place I don't add any salt is the soup kitchen... the clients there load the salt on their food (it looks like it snowed) so I figure they can live without the extra.

 

I don't eat dessert most of the time when we eat out and if I did it's fruit sorbet or something along those lines.  I'm allergic to eggs so it's best to be safe than sorry.

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post #9 of 9
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