Eating with Food Allergies and Diabetes

Q: Ever since I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five years ago, I've struggled to eat healthfully. This has been challenging because I'm allergic to fish, nuts, and soy products. I don't have a large income. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Food allergies present a challenge. However, you can still eat healthfully without the foods you mention.

Focus more on fresh vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, chicken, and lean meats, and focus less on prepared foods that might cost more and can contain ingredients that could trigger an allergic reaction.

Your best bet in steering away from soy and nuts lies in reading nutrition labels. Look for words such as these:

  • soy

  • tofu

  • tempeh

  • soybean

  • soymilk

  • soy cheese

  • soy oil

  • nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.)

  • nut oils

Cooking your own meals is best because eating at home usually costs less. And when you're doing the cooking, you know exactly what you're eating. The triple-tested recipes in Diabetic Living are a good place to start as long as you check the ingredients for any foods you're allergic to. Work with a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that incorporates foods you can tolerate, but request a referral from your doctor for health-insurance reasons.

Jeannette Jordan, M.S., R,D., CDE, is the American Dietetic Association's national spokesperson for African-American nutrition issues and oversees nutrition education at the Medical University of South Carolina.