*This is a collaborative post.
We’ve all been on a diet from time to time. Even those of us that say we’d never diet and we love food too much, have occasionally tried to curb our eating in an attempt to lose a little weight before a holiday or after a period of overindulgence. While dieting, especially if following a specific plan or restricting calories, many of us start to find it hard to enjoy food. We fall out of love with cooking, we worry about eating out where we’ll have no control over menu options, and we get bored with eating the same meals all of the time. Cooking and eating should be fun, social, relaxing, and adventurous. When it can’t be, things can be tough. Some people even find themselves becoming depressed when they can’t enjoy the food that they love, or grumpy when they aren’t eating as much as their bodies are used to.
But, for some people, it’s worse than this. They aren’t dieting by choice. They are forced to stick to a specific diet or cut certain food groups and types from their diet for medical reasons. For example, some people are forced to avoid gluten as it can harm their health if they eat it. If you’ve recently found out that you need to restrict your diet for the good of your health and wellbeing, you might be finding it hard to enjoy eating like you used to. Here are some tips to help you to enjoy food, while on a medically restricted diet.
Don’t Be Scared to Try New Things
Most of us are guilty of getting into a routine with our meals and eating patterns. You might find that your family eats the same meals on certain nights of the week, or that you have about ten meals that you rotate regularly. When we’re eating like this, it’s easy to become bored and lose our love of food. It’s even harder if you suddenly find that you need to skip certain ingredients.
Pushing yourself to try new things can be great. Force yourself out of your food comfort zone. Go to the parts of the store that you don’t often visit and look for new recipes online. Don’t be afraid of new ingredients and try to enjoy experimenting with new things.
Find the Right Restaurants
One of the hardest things about life with a restricted diet is eating out. Eating out is a big part of many of our social lives. We enjoy not having to cook or wash up. Restaurants are a great way to spend time with friends and family. You might even be used to conducting business meetings in restaurants and coffee shops.
Suddenly, you need to start looking at menus, worried that there’ll be nothing you can eat, or that you might cause a fuss and ruin your friends day. You might find that you avoid going out for food altogether, which can mean that you miss out on some fantastic meals.
Instead, do your research. Look online for local eateries that use a gluten free foodservice or offer other menu options that suit your needs. Try to find restaurants in your local area that cater to your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask staff for help with the menu, or if there is anything that they can do to accommodate you. Remember the places that do and eat there often.
Learn to Adapt Recipes
Not being able to eat some things doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy your favorite meals and recipes. It just means that you need to be a little more creative with the ingredients that you use. The internet is a fantastic source of information when it comes to cooking. So, look for ingredient substitutions online and test them out. Try new things, be creative, or just miss ingredients out completely, many recipes work just as well with a few changes and swaps.
Learn to Cook
If you’ve never been much of a cook, perhaps this is the best time to learn. If you need to eat specific things, and you are worried about eating out, learn to cook. Use this as an excuse to spend more time in the kitchen, improving your skills and trying new things. Cooking can be relaxing and enjoyable. Many people find that cooking reduces their stress levels and that they have a really great time in the kitchen. You could take a course, or teach yourself using recipes and tips online or cooking books. Ask friends and family that cook for help and advice.
Forget trying to reduce calories. It won’t ever make you feel better about eating, and you’ve got enough restrictions in your diet without adding more. Instead, focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of treats and getting lots of exercise. If you want to lose weight, join fitness groups, or increase your activity, making only the smallest changes to your diet.
Make Eating an Event
No one enjoys eating when it’s a rush. When we eat on the go, we don’t have the chance to appreciate what we are eating. We’re eating because we need to and not because we want to.
We all have to eat on the go occasionally. It’s a side effect of a busy lifestyle. But, when you can, make eating an event. Sit down at the table, free up plenty of time, take your time to chew every bite, to appreciate the flavor. Enjoy a drink and pleasant conversation. Or read a book or watch TV if you are alone. But don’t rush. Give yourself a chance to enjoy your meal.
Don’t Compare What You Eat to What Everyone Else Eats
We all get food envy from time to time. It’s even worse now there are so many pictures of food on social media. We don’t just envy the meals of our companions, but of people we’ve never met. But, try not to compare your meal to what other people are eating. Know that you are eating what is best for you, and don’t let yourself think about what someone else might have.