When someone is newly diagnosed with food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances/what have you, they often start with a "I can't have XYZ." outlook as they think about what they will be eating from day to day. Today's food stores are packed to the brim with food, but if someone has a list of ingredients they can't eat, shopping can quickly become a discouraging chore as many foods are taken off the plate. I know that I often felt very deprived during my year of avoiding so many foods and found it to be quite depressing.
I would like to encourage the thought of "I can't have XYZ." to become more like "Look at all these things I *can* have!", because that thought is much more positive, and opens up a realm of possibilities.
Awhile back, I found a helpful source of information that has opened up some new food options: Meijer.com. I'm not sure why I waited this long to share it!
I would recommend sitting down with the list and making your own list of foods that you *can* have, and working from there to add some interesting flair to your diet.
Multiple Food Allergies?
When striving to eat Gluten/Top 8 Allergen Free, it can be hard at times to read food labels and know for certain whether a product contains something you are trying to avoid--there's just so much to watch out for, it's overwhelming! One way to simplify things is to avoid processed foods (and even then it's still hard to avoid certain things), but it's also nice to have a list of safe items to have on hand for a change of pace.
One excellent resource I have found is the Meijer website, Meijer.com. Meijer offers many helps to those of us who are dealing with food issues, the most helpful to me being the Meijer Brand Allergen List.
Although Gluten is not technically a top 8 allergen, it is included on the Meijer Brand Allergen List, along with each of the top 8 allergens, Starch, and Phenyl. Meijer has generally been responsive to me when I've contacted them with questions regarding specific products in relation to allergies and derivatives (unlike some other store-brand attempts to find answers), but this listing simplifies the process.
Of course, if you have allergies beyond the scope of the chart, you would still need to contact the company. And do still pay attention to labels, because they can change without notice.
The way to get to the Meijer Brand Allergen List (rather than the link above) is to go to Meijer.com. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and under Do More, click Healthy Living. Then under Special Diets, click Meijer Brand Allergen List, and then click View the List here.
Only Avoiding Gluten?
If you are only looking to avoid Gluten, you can simplify your search by going to the Meijer Brand Grocery Gluten-Free Products List. There is also a Meijer Brand Gluten-Free Drug Store Product List.
If you don't have a Meijer store in your area, you are probably thinking you read this post for no reason. Have no fear--it's not all for naught! Peruse the Meijer site a bit further and Under Special Diets is a Gluten Free Resources listing, as well as a National Brand Gluten-Free Product List (last updated March of 2011).
Many thanks to Meijer for making this information available to us!