Changing the habits of a lifetime is never easy. And when it comes to our diet, the news that we need to make a change can be at the same time apparently very simple and also extremely difficult. After all, it sounds straightforward: here’s what you can eat, and here’s what you cannot; at the same time, it can feel extremely restrictive. 80% of what you would usually eat can disappear from your menu in one fell swoop.
Nonetheless, we make dietary changes – or at least, we attempt to – because it happens to be what we need to do. If you are diagnosed with Celiac disease, for example, you do need to stop eating gluten because the repercussions for not doing so include a raised risk of cancer. Other dietary intolerances and allergies may be more or less acute, but they do necessitate a diet change – and for many reasons, that’s not easy to achieve.
You suddenly lose half (or more) of your favorite dishes
Put yourself in the position of someone who adores Italian cuisine, and who is diagnosed with Celiac. Standard pasta relies heavily upon wheat gluten for its manufacture, while most commercially available pizza – and most homemade doughs – will also use gluten. Imagine the same person needs instead to switch to a plant-based diet because they are diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. Again, their diet is heavily restricted in one go. There are ways to make this better: for the newly meat-free gastronome, this vegan alfredo sauce is one option. The gluten-free alternatives meanwhile include black bean noodles instead of spaghetti and chickpea flour for pizza bases.
It’s harder to find fast options
If we had all the time in the world, then dietary restrictions would matter less – we could have the time to prep, cook, and enjoy recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, carb-free, and more. However, if you need to eat or drink in a hurry, intolerance can become a real imposition. Most of the convenient foods out there are only convenient if you’re not on a specialist diet. The good news is that restaurants are getting much better at recognizing dietary restrictions; you can order a burger without the bun, have soy milk in your latte, or follow a range of other alternatives. The adaptation to such requirements is slower than ideal, but it is spreading further every day.
Other people aren’t always understanding
There is a gap in understanding when it comes to dietary intolerances and allergies, where some people still assume they are a preference rather than a requirement. There are stories of even family members ignoring a food allergy despite the very real possibility of serious health consequences. This is of course a very hard situation to get past – it requires you to stand your ground and perhaps even bring your own dishes to family gatherings. If family members need convincing of the importance of following these requirements, show them the evidence of what can happen. You’re not the one in the wrong here.