Healthy eating is difficult at the best of times, but when you have dietary requirements to consider it gets even more challenging. Some medical conditions impose extreme restrictions on what you can and cannot eat, which means it can be difficult to get the broad range of food groups that your body needs.
Although it can be tempting to stick to a limited range of foods to avoid medical complications, you should, where possible, eat a varied diet. Here are some ways that you can add some diversity into your meal plan while staying healthy, even if you are suffering from a medical condition.
Image credit: Flickr
There are many issues that can make it difficult to swallow, a condition known as “dysphagia,” and when this occurs it can have a drastic impact on the types of foods you can eat.
Although many foods for dysphagia sufferers are in liquid form, it remains important to introduce variety where you can. Depending on the severity of your dysphagia, thickening agents can be used to create differing textures, without changing the appearance and taste of the food. This means that you can create purees based on a wide range of foods, meaning that you never have to compromise on your nutritional requirements.
Crohn’s disease is a condition affecting the small intestine which can make it difficult to absorb nutrients from your food. Crohn’s sufferers can experience malnutrition, which may lead your doctor to recommend a high-calorie diet and additional meals even when you don’t feel like eating.
Another dietary consideration is avoiding foods that trigger your inflammations. Unfortunately, many of these will only become apparent with time, but some common foods to avoid include: alcohol, butter, red meat, high-fibre foods and spicy meals. If any doubt, speak to your doctor or nutritionist and come up with a meal plan that suits your individual needs.
Individuals that are lactose intolerant have to avoid many dairy products as they do not produce the enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar found in milk. This means that related foods, like yoghurt, ice cream, soft cheeses and butter are also likely to cause a negative reaction.
Fortunately, there are now a number of dairy alternatives available in most major supermarkets. Soy milk, almond milk and vegan cheese are readily available and there are also dairy free versions of cakes and other products that usually contain lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, however, try to find calcium-enriched versions of your dairy alternatives to ensure you receive as much of this key nutrient as possible.
Eating for two
Although only temporary, pregnancy can have a major impact on your diet. Some foods are off-limits, like raw or undercooked meat, unpasteurised milk and certain fish, while others provide the nutritional requirements that you and your baby need. Try to include at least three food groups within each meal and boost your iron and protein intake to help with the baby’s growth.
It can come as quite a blow hearing that you can no longer eat certain foods. However, if you come up with a clear diet plan that focuses on a broad range of food groups, there’s no reason you can’t continue to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.