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Dietary Restrictions, Food Shortages - 10 Ideas to Thrive During Insecure Times

Apr 01, 2020 ● By Tiffany Hinton

Food allergies and dietary restrictions affect approximately 1 in 10 Chicagoland residents, or nearly 32 million Americans nationwide. In Illinois, we have one of the largest populations with food allergies and dietary restrictions in the United States.

This is important information with our current time of social distancing and self quarantine, as many in our community do not realize that these residents can not always safely substitute one product for another at their local grocery store. These common allergens families may need to avoid include gluten, dairy, nuts, corn, and soy in addition to other histamine sensitive foods. Living with food allergies and dietary restrictions during this time brings fear and anxiety for these families. The fear of running out of safe food options can contribute to the hoarding mindset.

Problems intensify for the allergen sensitive community as many of the allergy safe foods are made by small to mid-sized businesses that may be seriously affected by COVID-19 quarantines and or shelter in place restrictions on their business activities. Popular brands are reporting an inability to produce enough product to meet the demands of the allergen community during this time.

This is not the first time America has had to find alternatives to meal routines. The Great Depression and World War II, also brought food scarcity to America. We may remember stories from our grandparents about food rationing, homesteading and Victory Gardens. Your family may even have a recipe or two indicative of the food needs of that time. If we lean on history as an example, it can provide helpful ideas about how to thrive during food insecure times.

Here are 10 ideas to put in place:

  1. Limit the usage of boxed and specialty foods. Perhaps move items from your pantry to the freezer to preserve the freshness of gluten free breads and pastas.
  2. Increase the use of seasonal fresh veggies and fruits. Most grocery stores still have an abundance of fresh produce and are continuing to stock produce at this time.
  3. Save the veggie tops and ends, along with bones from chicken and beef recipes to make broth and soups. (See our previous article in NA Chicago for a recipe to make bone broth)
  4. Chop fruit and veggies to freeze for future use. Frozen veggies can be used in soups, stir frys or meal preparation in the future. Frozen fruit can be used in smoothies, desserts and even to make fresh jam.
  5. Try intermittent fasting to conserve food supply and increase health. There are several studies on the health benefits of intermittent fasting to boost the immune system.
  6. Freeze leftovers for future use. When making a large pot of soup or broth, freeze in small batches for single use.
  7. Plant seeds and sprouts indoors to consume for increased energy and an immune enhancing boost. (See our April article for sprouting benefits and recipe)
  8. Plant hardy plants like kale or spinach in your garden for an early harvest. Plant your version of a Victory Garden this year. During World War II, the Victory Gardens provided 40% of America’s food supply and helped bring neighbors together.
  9. Turn to alternative grains in bulk like gluten free oats and rice. These can be purchased in 25 lb bags and will store easily at your home.
  10. Join a local CSA or contact local farmers for direct purchase. Finding veggies, fruits, eggs and meat from local farmers helps support their family in return.

GF Mom Certified Tiffany Hinton is offering a complimentary 30 minute consultation to families to discuss these solutions, and to help find other suggestions if you are struggling with food allergies or restrictions during this time. Click here to schedule a time

How to eat well with Food Allergies while staying at home