My son gets sick from palm oil. Many times, people ask us what he can have. We created this eating without palm oil list specific to my son. These are the foods he likes and eats safely.
We created this site to help others who might have sensitivities and intolerances to palm oil. As we learned more about palm oil, we learned about the environmental concerns as well.
Eating without palm oil list ~ What my child eats because he is sensitive to palm oil
Our son reacts to even trace amounts of palm oil as well as palm oil derivatives so we believe these items are okay if you are avoiding palm oil. But note they are not guaranteed. We update this list regularly.
Something positive that’s come of this is we all eat healthier, cleaner foods. We cook and bake from scratch regularly. We have less processed foods and eat out less.
Overall, we eat more real foods and buy products with less “ingredients.”
While we have comprehensive lists of palm oil free products, this list is specific to my son will actually eat.
In general, we keep things simple.
When buying packaged foods, we stick to original flavors which tend to have less palm oil than complicated flavors. We also choose products with the least amount of ingredients as possible.
Whenever possible, we choose the less processed option. Example: We buy nuts in their shell instead of already shelled.
Palm oil hides under hundreds of names. Most palm oil ingredients don’t include “palm” in the name. It’s in thousands of products. It’s difficult finding products without it.
Palm oil hides in “Natural Flavors” making it even more stressful. See more below. Learn about his palm oil allergy/intolerance.
Our son will eat most any vegetable that you can eat raw. He has several each day, plain, without dressing.
Examples of vegetables he eats regularly: snap peas, snow peas, carrots, red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, lettuce, celery.
We buy organic when possible, especially the dirty dozen like celery.
He eats a lot of fruits every day. He can have all fruits except for grapes which upset his system. As far as we know, grapes and palm oil ingredients are the only things that affect him. (We need to research if they are botanically-related in some way?)
Examples of fruits he eats: apple, banana, mandarin, pear, peach, nectarine, plum, apricot, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, figs, dates.
We buy frozen organic berries and frozen organic berries with spinach and kale to keep on hand for smoothies. They are more economical than buying organic berries fresh.
Again, we buy organic when possible and keep in mind the Clean 15 and dirty dozen.
Take extra care to wash citrus. We learned sometimes companies use palm oil to make them shinier. We typically buy these in bags when they are less likely to be “shined.”
He will eat any meat. In restaurants we order it with just salt.
At home, depending on the meat, we cook it with salt, real onions and garlic cloves. If it’s chicken, turkey, we may add avocado oil.
We cook ground beef with garlic, onions, and salt, or with bacon and onions. Sometimes we use a little bit of:
- Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
Most often, we buy raw meat. However, he also eats these on occasion:
- Kirkland Signature Bacon
- from Costco; regular bacon in blue bag
- He’s had other bacon when we’ve been out and has been fine.
- Banquet Brown ‘N Serve Original Sausage Links
- Hormel Natural Choice:
- Honey Deli Ham
- Smoked Deli Ham
- Crazy Cuisine Mandarin Orange Chicken (without the sauce)
- from Costco
- Foster Farms:
- Crispy Strips (yellow and green bag)
- Chicken Tenders (yellow and green bag)
He’s been able to have any seafood. In restaurants we ask for it plain — just cooked with salt.
At home, we use avocado oil for fish. For shrimp, we use real butter and garlic.
For seasonings, we keep it simple. We use real (not from containers) limes and lemons, garlic cloves, and onions. We use basic table salt as well.
He can also have Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning but we only use it on ground beef and sometimes on a roast.
In addition, sometimes use fresh herbs: basil, rosemary, or sage.
Important: We avoid oil blends completely. We only buy 100% of whatever the oil is.
Mostly, we cook with avocado oil and organic olive oil. For baking we use canola oil, soybean oil, or avocado oil.
Snacks for lunches, on-the-go, and at home
- Potato Chips
- Lay’s Regular Potato Chips; Cape Cod Potato Chips
- (He can have any potato chips with a safe oil listed and salt.)
- Rold Gold Pretzels – Original
- Synder’s Pretzel Rods
- Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Original (These are the flat pretzels in a blue bag.)
- Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Cheddar (We get the big box from Costco.)
- Seaweed Snacks – Sea Salt
- Sprouts Seaweed Snacks
- Others that only contain seaweed, sunflower oil, and salt
- Popcornopolis Popcorn (big bag from Costco)
- He can have any that list popcorn, a safe oil, and salt.
- Kettle corn
- Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Kettle Corn (big bag at Costco)
- Skinny Pop Popcorn Mini Cakes
- Sea Salt
- Cinnamon & Sugar
- Salted Caramel
- Pirate’s Booty
- Rice rollers from Costco
- Rice cakes (Don’t buy with Tocopherols)
- Quaker Oats Caramel Rice Cakes
- GoGo Squeez Fruit & Veggies On the Go: Zippin’ Zingin’ Pear and Boulder Berry
- RX Bars: Blueberry, Chocolate Sea Salt
- Larabar Kid Chocolate Brownie
- Van’s Cranberry & Almond Gluten-free Bar
- Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars: Oats ‘n Dark Chocolate
- Enjoy Life Foods Grain & Seed Bars (All four flavors are certified Palm Oil Free.)
There are a lot of hidden palm oil ingredients in bars. It’s in the Natural Flavors, Tocopherols, and Glycerin.
- Dannon Activa Yogurt: Strawberry, Blueberry, Black Cherry, Mixed Berry
- Chobani Greek Yogurt BLENDED with Blueberry or Strawberry or Vanilla
- (He’s never had Chobani with Fruit on the Bottom which is different than Blended.)
Most contain palm oil so we make our own.
- Van’s Gluten Free Frozen Waffles Original
He’s been able to have tree nuts as well as peanuts. He can have them if they just contain salt. We prefer the ones in the shell as they are less processed.
We buy frozen organic berries or use whatever we have fresh. Next, we toss in a banana and some greens. Sometimes we sneak in avocado or baked sweet potato.
- O Organics Frozen Berries
- Kirkland Frozen Organic Berries with Kale & Spinach
As we stated above, buying organic berries is a lot less expensive than frozen. It’s also easy to keep them on hand.
He only drinks water or smoothies we make at home.
If he is out and has a soda, he avoids anything with grape, cherry, orange, etc. and sticks with name brand products.
- Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
- Make sure it’s Kellogg’s; Post Raisin Bran contains Vitamin A Palmitate.
- Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Granola
- Life Cereal: Original or Cinnamon
- Pepperidge Farm:
- Thin & Crispy: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate
- Market Pantry Animal Crackers (at Target)
- Ben & Jerry’s pints: All flavors are palm oil free! This is incredible.
- It’s the only time my son can walk in and pick whatever he wants! Thank you, Ben & Jerry’s!
- Mint Chocolate Chip
- Vanilla Bean
- Chocolate Chip
- Alden’s Organic:
- Cookies & Cream
- Natural Vanilla (Their other three vanillas contain mono- & diglycerides.)
- Mint Chocolate Chip
Alden’s Organic and Tillamook have more flavors without palm oil but these are the ones we buy. For info on ice cream without palm oil, check this out.
Safe candy he can have
- YumEarth Candy Canes
- Wholesome Organic Candy Canes
- barkTHINS Snacking Chocolate: Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: original; regular packaging; no holiday versions
- Hershey’s bars: Milk Chocolate, Almond, Special Dark
- Hershey’s Kisses: Milk Chocolate, Almond
- M&M’s Milk Chocolate, Almond
- Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini Chips
- Sour Patch Kids
- Jolly Rancher Hard Candies
He can have any “real” chocolate as well. We choose the ones with as few ingredients as possible. As an example, the chocolate chips we buy only contain Cocoa Butter, Unsweetened Chocolate, and Cane Sugar.
S’mores without palm oil
- Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
- Other marshmallows with the same ingredients as above are likley fine.
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar: any size
- Honey Maid Grahams (Many other brands contain palm oil and palm oil derivatives such as DATEM.)
We have to make all of his desserts because the ones in bakeries and grocery stores contain palm oil. Together we make brownies, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and biscotti. In addition, we make our own frosting easily with confectioners sugar, real butter, whole milk, and pure vanilla.
The only mixes we use are:
- Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
- Pillsbury Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix
I make these brownies and freeze them for when he goes to a birthday party, etc.
Baking ingredients we use
- Whole milk without Vitamin A Palmitate
- Red-Star Yeast in the 3-pack is the only one we found without palm oil derivatives.
- Real butter
- We use Lucerne from Albertson’s/Safeway
- Kirkland Organic Eggs from Costco
- Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract
- Any “pure” extract is likely fine.
- Pure cane sugar
- We use C&H Pure Cane Sugar. Any sugar with just “sugar” listed is likely fine.
- King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- Probably most any flour would be okay.
- Confectioners sugar / powdered sugar
- We use C&H Confectioners Sugar to make frosting.
- Baking powder
- We use Clabber Girl Double Acting Baking Powder.
- Pure baking soda
- We use Arm & Hammer.
- Chocolate chips: Enjoy Life Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Table salt
- Red Ape Cinnamon (It’s certified Palm Oil Free.)
- 100% pure maple syrup
- Local honey
We are used to making substitutions. He can’t have Rice Krispie treats because the cereal contains Vitamin A Palmitate; however, we can use the marshmallows and real butter to coat air-popped popcorn for a treat just as delicious.
Meals without palm oil
So what does this look like on a day-to-day basis? We are lucky our son eats fruits, vegetables, and meats. These make up most of his diet.
- Homemade waffles:
- I make batches in my waffle maker and freeze them. I warm them in the toaster.
- Homemade French toast
- Dave’s Killer Bread in green or yellow bag
- Leftover meat
- Banquet Brown ‘N Serve Original Sausage Links
We only buy 100% pure maple syrup.
See our post breakfast without palm oil to see how common palm oil is at this meal.
Lunch at school without palm oil
He brings the following everyday:
- Activa Yogurt
- Combination of fruits and vegetables
- A few of the above snacks and a bar
Dinner without palm oil
The majority of our dinners consist of meat, fruit and raw vegetables. My son will eat all of these without issue.
We vary how we cook the meats. If we are out, we ask for them to cook the meat with salt.
Again, we cook meats with garlic cloves, chopped onion, salt. Sometimes we use avocado oil, lime, lemon, peppers, etc. for additional flavoring.
We cook with as simple ingredients as possible. Because onion and garlic powders can contain palm oil, we only use real, fresh onions, and garlic.
In addition, we buy lemons and limes and use them; we don’t buy the squeeze lime juices, etc. These contain additives that we aren’t sure are safe for him.
He eats a wide variety of fruits and raw vegetables.
Eating at fast food restaurants without palm oil
We are grateful when restaurants publish their ingredients online so we can check in advance.
Many restaurants list which products contain the major allergens but don’t spell out the ingredients. Palm oil isn’t recognized as an allergen so that doesn’t help us.
Other restaurant chains spell out the Nutritional Profile with the calorie count and fat content but not the actual ingredients. It’s frustrating.
Important: Many restaurant French fries contain palm oil.
If they make the French fries fresh on-site — like In-N-Out Burger and Five Guys — they most likely won’t contain palm oil.
We are loyal to these restaurants because these are places he can go and won’t get sick.
- Chicken tenders
- French fries
- Chicken tenders
- (Their fries contain palm oil.)
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
- Hamburger meat plain; no bun
- French fries
- Four hamburger patties plain
- French fries
- Chocolate shake
We are so grateful to In-N-Out Burger. This is one of my son’s favorites because he can have their fries and shakes. This is the only place he has shakes / ice cream.
Sometimes he orders the burgers wrapped in lettuce.
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers:
- Cane’s Combo (He can eat the chicken and the fries and doesn’t eat the bread.)
- Chicken strips
- French fries
Eating palm oil free at other restaurants
At sit down restaurants, he orders meat cooked with salt. He doesn’t eat bread.
At Mexican restaurants he orders fajitas and just eats the meat, not the tortillas or cooked vegetables. He doesn’t have the tortilla chips. We rarely go to Italian restaurants.
Typically, we don’t go out to eat unless we have to. When we do, we look for places that will have meat they can cook-to-order with just salt. We’ve had luck at Outback Steakhouse and others.
Going on vacation when you are avoiding palm oil
One of the biggest stresses is eating away from home when you are trying to avoid palm oil. Vacations are stressful.
We always pack palm oil free safe foods when we travel.
For vacations, so we don’t have to rely on restaurants, instead of staying in a hotel, we usually rent an AirBNB or VRBO with a kitchen. Then we can continue to buy the above foods.
It’s a lot healthier to eat this way too. And it saves us money.
When traveling, we always bring RX Bars, nuts, fruits, and other safe snacks whether we are driving or flying.
If we go on a road trip, we will bring a cooler so we can keep more fresh vegetables and fruits.
School parties and class treats without palm oil
My son brings a lunch to school everyday so we don’t have to worry about any palm oil in school lunches.
Oftentimes, our son has to miss out on treats and snacks at school. There are sometimes food rewards and class parties.
In addition, students are allowed to bring in treats for their birthdays. If you have 27 kids bringing in doughnuts, that’s 27 doughnuts my son isn’t able to eat. (This isn’t necessarily a bad thing!)
We can’t anticipate birthdays so he will usually eat something from his lunch bag. Every so often, I will give him a Larabar Chocolate Brownie to keep in his backpack. If we know in advance, I will give him brownie that I made and froze.
For classroom parties, depending what they are asking for, I typically send in something safe he can have.
If it’s a party with desserts, I send brownies or cookies. If it’s a classroom celebration without dessert-type foods, I will send in fruit, Cheddar Goldfish, Rold Gold Pretzels, Pirate’s Booty, potato chips, or popcorn.
Trying new foods when you can’t have palm oil
It’s scary trying new foods. Palm oil ingredients don’t have to be specially labeled.
Natural Flavors can contain palm oil.
Before buying anything new, we consider the type of product it is, and if it’s something that usually contains palm oil. We know that some products will always contain palm oil, and we won’t ever buy them.
In addition, we think about palm oil uses and how it’s used in the product. For example, if it’s a product that uses an emusifier, is there another emusifier listed that spells out the source, such as Soy Lecithin? If so, then this might be a safe product.
After that, we further look at all of the ingredients and cross-reference it against the list of hundreds of names for palm oil, knowing that palm oil can be hiding under many different ingredient names.
We introduce new foods sparingly and always one at a time. We watch for symptoms. If he is symptom free, the next time we will give him a little bit more. Once we determine it’s safe, we will add it more regularly.
Asking companies about palm oil in their ingredients
When we find something that seems safe, we email to ask the company about it — many times they don’t respond. Many times they don’t know.
Oftentimes, they respond saying there isn’t palm oil in it but after pressing further, we learn there is.
Companies changing ingredients to include palm oil
We’ve also learned to always check labels before buying these products above. Companies change ingredients often.
Since we learned of our son’s palm oil intolerance, there have been many processed food items he was able to have until they changed ingredients.
Some of these include
Peanut M&M’s, Mr. Goodbar, Honeycomb Cereal, and Oreo cookies. No loss on not having these products except that it’s discouraging to see more and more companies and products using palm oil.
For most products, I keep the packaging with the UPC codes as a reference. I also take pictures of them and mark them as Favorites so I can easily find them on my phone while I’m in the store.
Companies discontinuing products that they made without palm oil
We’ve also found this happen many times.
There were many
KIND bars my son was able to safely eat until they discontinued them. This has also happened with Dark Chocolate Mint M&M’s.
It’s happened with several store brands of crackers and snack bars as well.
Palm oil free certification labeling is important
When a company has a product which earned Palm Oil Free certification, that’s of tremendous help.
That means the company has taken the time to submit their product ingredients to an independent third-party organization. The organization checks all the ingredients in the product(s).
They check them down to the source — from the supplier. An example: We see Citric Acid on a label. The Palm Oil Free certifying organization will dig deeper to find out the source of that Citric Acid — what is in it?
Two independent Palm Oil Free certification companies are:
- International Palm Oil Free Trademark Certification Programme (POFCAP) – Learn more here.
- Orangutan Alliance – Find out more here.
Our family always buys products certified with a No Palm Oil label.
What do you eat if you can’t have palm oil?
We are using his palm oil allergy/sensitivity as a positive reminder to eat healthier food.
We have learned SO MUCH about all the chemicals in foods and all the ways they use inferior ingredients to save money.
Our son knows how to read labels. He knows the common ingredients to look for which include Mono- & Diglycerides, Glycerin, Glycerine, Polysorbate 60, Polysorbate 80, Tocopherols, and anything with Stearate, including Magnesium Stearate and Calcium Stearate.
If he is in doubt, he doesn’t eat it.
We’ve learned to assume everything has palm oil in it and be happily surprised when it doesn’t.
He knows what he can order at the fast food restaurants if he’s out with friends. He says “no thank you” a lot to food.
Sometimes it’s difficult.
He’s a kid in a processed food, snack-all-the-time, food-rewards-for-everything world.
However, we started this website as a way to empower our family — to feel like we were doing something to create awareness about the way palm oil is hidden in so many products. See About Us here.
We also learn a lot by trial and error and like that we can log everything here, on this website, so we can reference it.
We wanted other people to start reading labels and to see how companies are hiding palm oil in so many ways.
Most people just toss a box of Poptarts and everything else in their carts without considering the ingredients.
We didn’t think our son could be the only one who has a palm oil allergy or palm oil intolerance. Even for consumers who don’t have symptoms from palm oil and palm kernel oil, we know many avoid it for environmental reasons.
There are a lot of people who even if they don’t give up palm oil completely, might be interested in buying it less often.
Focusing on real foods
The best thing we’ve done is to focus on healthy choices.
We talk about all of the ingredients and chemicals in foods.
We try to empower our son to make his own choices. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to eat it.
He and I get a great deal of satisfaction from hearing from readers via the comments below as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Please follow us.
We like to thank the companies for making products without palm oil ingredients so they will know consumers care and want these types of products.
Sometimes companies change their ingredients to include palm oil derivatives. It’s important to read ingredients every time.
Please note, we do not guarantee these products are palm oil free. The only way to know for certain is if it has earned Palm Oil Free certification.
As we try to live palm oil free, we think it’s better to focus on what we CAN HAVE rather than what we can’t have.
This is a running list of the foods my son eats that he can safely have. We try to vary his foods so he doesn’t tire of them.
Also, there are other foods without palm oil on our other lists. These are the ones he likes and eats. We continue to update this list. Thank you for reading and caring about this issue!
This list is specific to personal care items he uses with a palm oil intolerance.