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Special diets - information for children

diet; culture; lactose; intolerance; intolerant; coeliac; diabetes; cystic; fibrosis; celiac; recipes; religion; vegetarian; weight;


Why people have special diets

There are some people who have so little food that they are thankful to have any food to eat at all. Other people choose to eat some types of foods for a lot of different reasons.

people with special diets

Some people choose not to eat some types of foods for different reasons. The reasons may be to do with religion, culture, where they live in the world, beliefs about what is food - and sometimes people cannot eat some foods because they make them sick.


  • Muslim and Jewish people do not eat pork. Their other kinds of meat have to be killed in a certain way, and meat has to be kept apart from other foods when it is being prepared.
    different religions eat different foods
  • Hindu people do not eat cows, and many do not eat meat from other animals. They encourage people to be vegetarian, but do not force them to be vegetarian. They think cows are special and should be looked after. One of the reasons for this is because they provide milk which can be drunk and also made into other dairy products, which are believed to be very good for health.
  • Some followers of Buddha do not eat meat of any kind, while others do not eat beef or dairy products.
  • Some Christians believe that you should not eat meat on Fridays.
  • Some religions have some time of their year when they fast, which means they go without food all day, or without certain foods for a longer time.
  • Some also have special times when they feast or have lots of different, special kinds of food during the festival times of their religions.


People's diet can depend a lot on their culture and where their family came from.

  • Some people in another country may have a very different idea of what is food than you have.
    hot and spicy rice
  • petsIn some countries they eat animals which in other countries would be thought of as pets.
  • People from some cultures would eat very hot and spicy foods, while others would prefer the taste of the food itself.
  • Most people in Australia are used to eating and enjoying a wide variety of foods from many countries, because we have a wide variety of people from many countries all living in the same country, sharing their cultures and their food.

Where they live in the world

  • Not everyone lives near a supermarket, and not everyone could afford to buy food there if they did.
    special diet
  • Some people live on the food they grow themselves, and some people have to rely on others to give them food, because they have had a lot of trouble in their country and cannot grow food, or work to buy food for themselves.
  • Most people in the world buy some food and grow some food.
  • Most people in the world do not have the chance to even know about the wide variety of foods that the people of Australia can see, buy and eat every day.

If you would like to know more about food, culture and religion then have a look at this fact sheet from Better Health Channel Food and celebrations

Beliefs about what is food

no meat pleaseSome people choose to eat only certain kinds of food, eg. vegetables, because they believe that it is wrong to eat animals.These people are called vegetarians.

Some vegetarians will eat eggs and fish, but some will not eat anything that has been part of an animal.

Some people eat things that other people would not consider to be food, eg. ants, chicken's feet, octopus, seaweed, grubs, leaves and insects.

It all depends on where they live in the world, what kind of food is available to gather, grow or buy, and how hungry they are.

When food makes you sick

Some people can get very sick if they eat certain kinds of food.

  • Maybe they are allergic to that kind of food, eg. peanuts, shell fish or cow's milk.
  • Maybe their bodies can't digest that kind of food, eg. gluten, which is found in wheat.
  • Maybe they have a condition that needs them to have a special diet, such as the ones below.

Lactose intolerance
Kids with this condition need to limit or not eat at all, any product that has milk or dairy products in it. Lactose is the sort of sugar found in milk products.

Diabetes (say di-a-beet-eez)
Kids with diabetes may need to pay extra attention to the amount and types of carbohydrates they eat, because they have to keep control of their blood sugar levels to stop them getting sick.

Coeliac disease (say see-lee-ak) 
These people need to have a gluten-free diet. Gluten is in many foods and it was difficult to find what to eat until recently. Look for the gluten-free products in the supermarket and look out for gluten-free recipes that you can make at home.

Cystic Fibrosis (say sis-tik fy-bro-sis)
Kids with this disease need to have heaps of calories to help them with their disease. Fats and vitamins can easily go out of their bodies, so they need to eat lots to make sure they keep enough for their bodies to work well.

no more burgers pleaseWeight loss
Some people have to go on a special diet because they are obese (say oh-bee-ss). This means they are very overweight. Usually the diet will limit what kinds of food they can eat and how much of it.


Weight gain
Some people are very underweight and their doctor may put them on a diet to gain weight so that they are strong enough to live their lives.
these can help to gain weight

Looking for recipes

If you have a condition that means you can't eat some foods, there are lots of websites that have recipes just for you. Just type in kids recipes and the type of diet you want.

For example:

If you have a favourite recipe for your kind of diet, please email it in and maybe we could start our own recipe file!

Dr Kate says

Dr Kate"We are all different and our regular diets will often have something of our culture and beliefs. Some people have no choice but to stick to a special diet. People who go on a diet to lose or gain weight should always check with their doctor first. Your doctor will help you to decide if you need to be on a diet and what that diet should be so that you can stay healthy".

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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