Giving Food Gifts to Someone On an Specialty Diet

I have a gluten-allergy and ten years ago it was practically impossible to find any products on store-shelves that were gluten-free! However, now that gluten-free has become a bit of a fad diet and a more common food allergy there are hundreds more products available for purchase. I even found gluten-free toaster pastries the other day! My friends love to surprise me with new gluten-free products as gifts, and I think it’s a great idea for anyone with a food allergy or who is on a special diet. Sometimes those products are more expensive than their “normal” counterparts, and it’s very touching when someone remembers your dietary needs when giving you a food gift.

Here are a 3 common diets and what that means for your gift-giving.

Vegan

Veganism takes vegetarianism to the next level and removes ANY animal products or byproducts including eggs, cheese and even honey. If you are looking for a sweet food gift for a vegan consider brands like Mary’s Gone Crackers organic cookies, which are also gluten and GMO free; Brach’s Mandarin Orange Slices are gummy candies that don’t use gelatin (typically made from animal products), and Bearded Brothers organic and raw energy bars are perfect for very active vegans that need a lot of nutrition in one bite. I actually bought a Bearded Brothers bar while on vacation and it was surprisingly delicious, especially for an energy bar!

Want a “normal” product that is surprisingly vegan? Oreos don’t actually contain any milk products in the creamy center and Pillsbury Crescent rolls only use vegetable oils.

Gluten-free

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Thanks to the dramatic increase in awareness, grocery stores now have entire aisles of gluten-free goods and many restaurants offer gluten-free menus for diners. If you have a friend with Celiac’s disease, however, they can’t risk even the slightest contamination so dining out is still a challenge and their gluten-free products have to be safe from contamination as well. Read the label of any gluten-free product to ensure it wasn’t processed in a facility that handles wheat, because even some gluten-free brands have some small parts-per-million amount of gluten. Only on August 2, 2013, did the FDA issue a final rule defining “gluten-free” for food labeling, which means that items labeled “gluten-free” meet a defined standard for gluten content.

Lactose-intolerant

A lot of snacks are naturally lactose or dairy-free, but the thing about being on any kind of restrictive diet is you greatly miss all the things you USED to be able to eat. Big brands like Yoplait yogurt, Breyer’s ice cream and even Kozy Shack make lactose-free versions of their products, so these make for great food gifts. There are also brands like GoVeggie! that make cheesy products using plant products. Keep in mind that dairy-free and lactose-free are not the same thing. Because lactose is only one component of dairy, a product can be lactose free but still contain other dairy components, such as casein or whey. Dairy-free products are typically also vegan-friendly. Also note that “non-dairy” is not the same thing as dairy free. Non-dairy creamers and other products labeled non-dairy are allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to contain milk proteins (casein and whey) and other milk derivatives.