The ultimate guide to dietary requirements

October 14 10 min read

Allergies vs Intolerances

When ordering food for your next meeting or next staff lunch, chances are that you've probably needed to order something seperate for guests who have food allergies or intolerances to certain types of ingredients. Perhaps it was a dairy-free breakfast, a vegan salad or it could have been someone you needed to cater for who was on a keto diet.

In fact, there are 1 in 5 Australians who currently live with a type of food allergy which probably means that there is a possibility that you have to cater for someone's dietary requirements. This may sound very basic, but it is important to understand the difference between an 'allergy' and an 'intolerance'.

Allergy - A food allergy creates a potentially serious reaction to food by a person's immune system. The most common allergies among Australians are generally traces of nuts, certain types of seafood like shell fish or even something simple like dairy which can cause anaphylaxis (which is an extreme and severe allergic reaction). Common allergy reactions can appear as:

  • Breaking out in a rash or hives
  • Strong chest pains or heartburn
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhoea
  • Swelling of the oesophagus
  • Nausea
  • Anaphylaxis

Intolerance - Food intolerances are generally more common that food allergies and aren't so much life threatening. An individuals symptoms tend to come on more slowly. and it often happens after a few hours of eating the problem food. These symptoms commonly include bloating and stomach aches/cramps. Common intolerance reactions can appear as:

  • Stomach pain
  • Gas, cramps or bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Change in temperament (irritability or anxiousness)

In this ultimate guide, we will help identify all of the most common allergies, and give you top tips on how to get it right, everytime.

Gluten - A mixture of proteins found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spely, kamut, triticale and most oats.

Generally known for its elasticating properties, gluten is what gives bounce to bread and a chew to pasta. Although this is much loved in the kitchen, there are certain sensitivities that can come by as suprising. Cooliac disease is the most well known, where studies have shown that as little as 24mg of gluten can cause damage to the intestine. If not managed quickly and properly this can cause major health problems to the individual in the long run.

Dairy - Is a product that derives from animal milk.

Common items including milk itself, cheese, cream, yoghurt, butter and whey are all included as dairy. However, milk derivatives also show up in a great variety to help negate individuals with dairy allergies (ie. dairy-free milk, soy). The most common dairy sensitivity is lactose intolerance which is when the body lacks the enzymes required to process lactose, a sugar found naturally in milk. It can cause unfomfortable symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, diarrhoa and nausea. With all allergies, symptoms can be milkd or severe and life threatening.

Fish & Shellfish - Due to either a protein or a gelatin that is present in fish & crustaceans like prawns, lobsters and mollusks.

Although shellfish allergies are the most common allergy to seafood (2.5% in adults and 0.5% in children), it is still quite common for individuals to be allergic to certain proteins in fish such as salmon, tuna and cod. Symptoms of fish or shellfish allergies vary and range from milkd reactions to a severe allerfic reaction. Most common symptoms include hives, wheezing (trouble beathing), cramps and vomiting. Shellfish allergies can be triggered by touch so extra careful attention is needed especially if your guests have this type of allergy.

Nut & Peanut - A nut allergy is a hypersensitivity to dietary substances from tree nuts that cause an overreaction to the immune system which leads to severe physical symptoms.

Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia's, coconut & pine nuts. Ethnic foods and commercially baked items can be more easily cross-contaminated with peanuts due to their more frequent use in these area's.

Special diets & Lifestyle

Vegetarian - Now moving from the 'can't eat' to the 'won't eat', Vegetarianism is growing in Australia every year due to a strong ethical and environmental movement to move towards plant based diets. Vegetarianism generally encompass the practice of following plant-based diets (fruits, vegetables etc) with or without the inclusion of dairy or eggs, with a strict exclusion of meat & fish. Adding a tasty vegetarian option or two (at least) on any catering order is a great way of offering more choice for all guests, but also provides a healthy and refreshing change from heavy meats.

Vegan - Very similar to vegetarians, vegans do not touch any animal product including eggs, dairy or honey. It may seem like a challenge to cater for those who are vegan, but the great thing is that its quite straight forward! Foods such as mushrooms, eggplants, sweet potatoes and avodacoes are a great substitute that are often used in vegan cooking. Tofu, tempeh, nuts and lentils are a great way to provide protein and flavour.

Paleo - There is always a debate on what exactly a paleo diet is. The diet usually includes fruits, vegetables, meat from grass-fed sources, seafood, unrefined plant and animal fats, as well as nuts and seeds. Those who are on a paleo diet will generally avoid dairy, grains, legumes or starches, as well as processed foods containing sugar, excess salt and synthetic chemical flavours and presevatives. Individuals are now becoming progressively more health conscious and willing ot go to the effort for good, quality food.

Keto - The Ketogenic diet mainly consists of very low-carb, high-fat diet, which has a huge focus on lowering the amount of carbohydrate intake and replacing it with healthy fats like avocado. Most people who are on a keto diet will regularly do it for health reasons or weight loss reasons, and is common for those who are treating diabetes. Food types such as red mets, seagood, seeds, nuts and vegetables are all keto friendly. You will also find that most individuals on a keto diet will not be long term as it can be adverse effects on your body.

Manage your dietary requirements through Hampr

Generally its very hard to get everyone's dietary requirements accurately, especially when you have more than 100+ employees at your workpalce. Hampr offers a whole heap of workflow tools to help you eaily manage your staffs dietaries with a click of a button. Our goal is to make your life easy but more importantly to help give you peace of mind when it comes to all things allergy and diet related.

Dietary preference collection tool - Our tool allows you to create and manage dietary surveys that can be grouped for individuals attending an upcoming event (ie. board meeting, off-site, morning tea etc) or by grouping certain business groups (ie. Customer Care, Sales, Marketing or C-Level).

We make it super easy for you to collect their dietary requirements in a few easy steps:

  1. When logged into Hampr, click on the menu on the top of the page, and select 'Diet Collection'.

  2. Select 'Create Survey', and create a name for this group (whether its an upcoming event, or a business group).

  3. Once you have created the group/s you can either invite all the employees of guests associated with that group either via email notification, or via a shareable link that can be shared on your office-wide communication tool.

  4. Once your staff/guests have received the link or email, they will be able to input their own dietary requirements which will be saved into your Hampr account to be used with every upcoming catering order when 'checking out'. That's it! Nice and easy.

We'll leave you some final tips for getting it right in your office

In any office environment especially if you're feeding more than 100 individuals, you will have come across occasions in the past where you may have gotten someones dietary wrong, or forgot to cater to someone with a specific dietary requirement.

At Hampr we understand this to a tee, and because of this we have built some amazing free tools to help you get it right, every time no matter how big or small your office is. Firstly, here are some tips on how to make sure you're catering to those who do have dietary requirements, as well as ways you can be proactive in getting people's dietaries right from the beginning:

Never guess - Take dietaries very seriously and never take guesses especially when it comes to allergies. Listen to your staff or guests who ask anything about ingredients and make sure you find out the truth about what's in a dish - If you don't know, never guess (even if that's the easy solution). If you don't know, your guest will appreciate your honesty and you'll avoid getting yoursel into a difficult situation.

Be the 'allergy guru' - As the office manager/receptionist most people and staff will generlly rely on you to be enlisted as the dietary chmpion (even if you're not). Keep an updated spreadsheet of your employees dietary requirements and make sure you update this regularly as new staff join the company. Advocating what you do for those with allergies and intolerances will almost certainly help build your brand image as it also reinforces your high level of customer service as well as helping to give you the competitive edge being on top of it all.

Speak with Hampr - Hampr provides multi-channel support including email, live chat, and phone support. If your'e ever uncertain about an ingredient list in a platter or lunch menu, don't hesitate to contact Hampr to find out accurate details about all ingredients and any planned changes.

Collect Feedback - Know what your staff and external guests enjoy eating. Have a conversation with your them and ask what they enjoy eating most of the time. There's no hurt in getting things right from the beginning.

Practice good hygeiene - Make sure that when preparing ane serving food to avoid cross-contamination. This might mean having special kitchen work benches and multiple chopping boards, extra cookware and kitchen utensils, and using appropriate food labelling on all ingredients.

What does Hampr do?

We help offices co-ordinate staff lunches, manage their pantry inventory, and organise event catering.

Our mission is to build team cultures that inspire wellbeing and accomplishment.

Get in touch if you want to discuss how we can help your organisation.