As a registered dietitian, my specialty is helping clients on a limited diet to expand their intake and enjoy eating again. I start my counselling sessions by asking my clients why they are on a limited diet. A common scenario is that clients notice additional foods sensitivities after restricting their diet. Jennifer is an example. She eliminated gluten and dairy based on recommendations from her doctor. After a few months, citrus and tomato started bothering her, so she eliminated them. She felt okay for several weeks, but then started noticing problems with meat and chicken. This trend continued, and eventually, she was on a very limited diet.
Tips to prevent the downward spiral:
- Be careful with elimination diets. An elimination diet can be a helpful tool to pinpoint food triggers, but if not done properly, it can create more problems than it solves. If you decide to follow an elimination diet, be systematic. Follow the diet for a defined period (e.g., four weeks). If your symptoms are not better, go back to your previous diet. If your symptoms improve, try to relax the restrictions as much as possible.
- Reduce rather than eliminate food. For example, if you decide to eliminate dairy – try cutting down, rather than completely eliminating.
- Replace restricted foods with comparable nutrient dense foods: For example, if you reduce wheat (gluten), replace it with other gluten-free whole grains.
- Be skeptical of alarmist nutrition information or miraculous cures on the internet. Most internet nutrition information is misleading, and too much research can create distrust and anxiety about food. Read more at The Dangers of Internet Research.
Tips if your diet is already restricted:
- Make your limited diet more interesting with creative preparation. For example, raw carrots can be sliced, spiralized or shredded. Cooked carrots can be mashed with different seasonings.
- Plan your meals ahead. Meal planning can eliminate the constant worry about “what am I going to eat?”
- Slowly add restricted foods back. Typically, people reintroduce food haphazardly – trying a little of this and a little of that. This approach does not usually go well! A written systematic plan with slow, steady steps is the best approach.
- Incorporate self-care strategies into your day. Self-care strategies will help you deal with the fear and frustration that are common with food sensitivities.
- More ideas can be found at Seven Tips to Expand a Food Sensitivity Limited Diet.
Need help expanding your diet? You’ve come to the right place. I can help you develop a practical plan to incorporate new foods and get back to enjoying your meals.