Special diets

Do you have Special Dietary Needs?

If you have a specific dietary need, this may affect your diet and choice of food and drink. Diet means ‘eating pattern’.

Some information on special diets and how potatoes can help can be found on this site, along with recipes to suit these. Coeliacs, Vegetarians, Diabetics, Vegans and those concerned about food allergies can learn more about the important role nutritious potatoes can play in their diets.

If you're in any doubt about what's right for you, or the person who has a specific dietary need, you're advised to contact your GP, registered dietician or other relevant medical professional.

Potatoes can be a part of many special diets, such as in the instances of the ones below:

What is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease affects the digestive system resulting in maIabsorption of the nutrients in food. Coeliacs cannot digest gluten, a protein in wheat and similar proteins in rye, barley and oats. It affects adults and children alike who need to follow a gluten-free diet following specialist dietary advice from a registered dietitian.

Worried that you may be affected?

If you're concerned about Coeliac disease, seek medical advice from your GP. If you are cutting out certain gluten containing foods such as wheat flour, you need to ensure they are replaced with suitable choices such as corn flour so need specialist dietary advice from a registered dietician to help maintain a healthy balanced, gluten-free diet.

A strict gluten-free diet is usually all that's required to return the digestive system to normal — which means no wheat, rye, barley and oats (although some people with coeliac disease can tolerate oats), or any foodstuffs made from these ingredients. This includes flour, bread, rolls, buns, crispbreads, biscuits, cake, pastry, pasta and breadcrumbs made from wheat, barley, rye or oats. Coeliacs need to maintain a gluten-free diet for life.

Can I still eat Potatoes?

Potatoes can be eaten by people with coeliac disease and contain lots of great nutrients. Many of the recipes on the site are gluten free or can be easily adapted for coeliac diets.

Need help?

For more information visit www.coeliac-ireland.com

Why be Vegetarian?

Vegetarianism is an increasingly common lifestyle choice, for a variety of reasons. Some have strong religious, moral or ethical beliefs.  Others are concerned over the meat-related health scares in recent years, or want to lead a perceived healthier lifestyle.  Whatever the reason, a vegetarian is someone eating a diet of grains, pulses, seeds, vegetables and fruits, with the use of dairy products and eggs (Vegetarian) or without (Vegan).

How to be a healthy Vegetarian.

The key thing to remember, as with any other dietary choice, is maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. If you are cutting out certain protein foods such as meat and fish, you need to ensure they are replaced with suitable choices such as pulses like lentils, beans and nuts. If you are cutting out dairy foods you will need alternative sources of calcium. Base meals on starchy carbohydrate foods like potatoes, cereals, bread, try to have 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, include high protein foods like pulses, and calcium containing foods like nuts, seeds, dried seaweed, tofu,  dried figs, muesli and green leafy vegetables.

Are potatoes good for Vegetarians?

Potatoes are highly nutritious and provide an adaptable base for many meals.  Many of our delicious recipes are suitable for vegetarians and even have their own section. If you eat dairy foods, make sure you don’t overdo the cheese or you may end up having too much unhealthy saturated fat in your diet.

What does having Diabetes mean?

A diabetic's body doesn’t produce enough insulin, the hormone which helps the body to convert food into fuel (blood glucose). This means that high levels of glucose (sugar) remain in the blood.

There are two types of diabetes:

  •          Insulin dependent diabetes
  •          Non-insulin diabetes

Insulin Dependent Diabetes

This is caused by a severe lack of insulin, and is treated by insulin injections and diet.  It normally starts when a child or teenager and can also be known as early onset diabetes, or type 1 diabetes.

Non-insulin diabetes

Non-insulin diabetes is the more common form, usually developed in later life.  It means that the body produces some but not enough insulin, or your insulin is not being used properly. This is often treated using diet alone, but may be treated with tablets, or also with injections.  This is also known as late onset or type 2 diabetes.

Are you Diabetic?

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you should have had specialist advice and already met a registered dietician for advice on the right food choices to help you manage the condition. If you're worried you may be diabetic, or your child may be, make an appointment with your doctor.

Healthy Eating for Diabetics

A healthy diet for diabetes is all about balancing food choices and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The diet recommended is very similar to the healthy eating recommendations for those without diabetes and is low in fat, sugar and salt. Meals are based on low fat, low GI wholegrain starchy foods like potatoes, bread, other cereals, pulses plus lots of fruit and vegetables. 

Potatoes belong to the starchy food group and in a healthy balanced diet, meals should be based on this nutritious food. Potatoes are suitable for those with diabetes but some diabetics may need to count carbohydrates as part of their diet. Choose the varieties with a low to medium GI which are more slowly absorbed like salad potatoes to aid blood glucose control.

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What is a Vegan?

Vegans do not eat or use any animal or animal-derived products, ranging from meat and fish through to other foods like cow's milk, cheese and eggs and animal-based materials and clothing (like leather).  Some do not even use honey.

What do Vegans eat?

Together with fruit and vegetables, soya-based alternatives, nuts, beans and pulses typically form part of a balanced vegan diet. Vegans will often need to take a supplement of vitamin B12 as the main dietary sources are excluded in their diet.

Starchy carbohydrate foods like potatoes are also an important and very nutritious part of the vegan diet, helping to provide energy and B vitamins.

Potatoes and the vegan diet

Potatoes are suitable for those on a vegan diet and can provide an adaptable and nutritious base for many meals. Many of the vegetarian recipes on the site can be easily adapted for vegans.

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In order to keep healthy we need to eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of foods to give us all the things we need. If you cut out certain foods or food groups you will miss out on important nutrients. For example if you cut out dairy you are missing out on fat soluble vitamins and calcium. It is important to make substitutions for the foods that have been removed from the diet. Also many foods contain many 'hidden' ingredients e.g. milk powder, so you have to be very sure that you are selecting appropriate foods.

Ask your GP to refer you to a Registered Dietitian so they can give you qualified individual dietary advice locally on a balanced diet.

If you would like to see a Registered Dietitian privately visit www.indi.ie/find-a-dietitian.html for a list in your area.

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Nutrition experts recommend potatoes as a perfect base for a healthy diet, helping you to maintain a healthy weight.

Potatoes are naturally fat free and have a low energy density (the amount of calories/kilojoules they provide per gramme) which makes them ideal for helping with weight management³. Provided little or no fat is used when cooking them and they are eaten in appropriate amounts, they can decrease the energy density of a meal helping you stay fuller on less calories.

Exercising friends

Potatoes can be a good choice before working out. They are a starchy carbohydrate and so provide energy which is essential to exercise efficiently. It also makes each workout more effective in burning fat rather than muscle. Potatoes also contain many key vitamins and minerals with their associated health benefits for example; potatoes are a source of potassium and fibre.

3 Julia A Ello-Martin, Liane S Roe, Jenny H Ledikwe, Amanda M Beach and Barbara J Rolls

Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 6, 1465-1477, June 2007