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  • Why doesn't SparkPeople offer dairy-free and gluten-free meal plans for members with these (and other) specific dietary restrictions?

SparkPeople's meal plans are designed to help a wide range of healthy people learn to make healthier food choices. We are not able to provide meal plans for most medical conditions. Food intolerances and allergies in particular require individualized counseling with a Registered Dietitian who can create meal plans for your specific needs and offer necessary nutrition education to manage these allergies and conditions. 

Other serious health problems have similar symptoms to food allergies and intolerances, so avoid self-diagnosis. If you think you have a food allergy or intolerance, we recommend that you visit your doctor to get a medical diagnosis to confirm your suspicion. If you have celiac disease, lactose intolerance or other food allergies, we strongly encourage you to meet with a Registered Dietitian to receive the necessary education, individualized meal planning and supplementation necessary to avoid symptoms and prevent nutritional deficiencies. Your dietitian can advise you on how to best maintain the nutritional quality of your diet and help you come up with baking, cooking and shopping tips.

That said, SparkPeople's free meal plans can be helpful and educational for just about anyone. Reviewing the meal plans can teach you a lot about how to structure your meals, create balanced meals, and spread out your daily allotment of calories, protein, carbs and fat throughout your meals and snacks each day. Even if you can't (or don't) eat every specific food listed, you can use them as guidelines and swap in other similar foods for the ones you do not eat. A meal that lists whole-wheat bread, for example, could easily be swapped out for a gluten-free bread that fits your diet; or when milk or dairy products are used, people with dairy intolerances can skip those, use a calcium-fortified alternative, etc. When viewed as guidelines, these meal plans can still be very helpful on your quest for weight-loss and healthier eating.

If you'd like more information or resources for eating right with gluten or dairy allergies/intolerances, check out Is Gluten-Free the Way to Be? and Lactose Intolerance and a Healthy Diet. We also encourage you to join up with our other members who are living and eating with these same restrictions. The SparkTeams Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free and Lactose Intolerants are a great place to get support, tips and information from people just like you.

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