November marks four years since I first visited my naturopath and she started me on a restrictive diet that I believe put me on the path towards healing my body from rheumatoid arthritis. Since that time, I have been able to add back foods from the nightshade family, citrus, peanuts, chocolate, wine and some sugar although I do try to limit each of these foods as rotational rather than daily foods. The two groups of food that have remained eliminated from my diet are gluten and dairy. Those two I expect to never be a part of my every day life again.
Living in our society is difficult when you are on a restrictive diet. So, how can you be successful?
1. Make a commitment to yourself. My body was deteriorating while on three heavy duty medications. For me, diet was not something I "hoped" would work but something I put 100% faith into. I really believe this faith helped me through the challenging times.
2. Cook and bring good foods into your home. When you are on a restrictive diet you have to learn to cook so you know what is going into your food. Also, bring the best ingredients you can into your home. The more nutritious foods you can put into your body, the better.
3. Be prepared. Keep acceptable foods that you enjoy on hand at all times. (I originally had chicken and rice soup in the refrigerator or freezer at all times). Always bring food with you, even if going out for a short time. I try to keep a Larabar with me at all times.
4. Restaurants. Find restaurants that provide foods that meet your diet restrictions. More and more restaurants are providing gluten free options. In January Pizza Fusion is opening in my town and will be offering a gluten free pizza crust with organic ingredients. I can't wait!
5. Support. Find family, friends, bloggers, etc that support your diet and use them as a resource when you feel weak moments or when you need a good recipe. I know early on in my diet, one of my best friends would send recipes whenever they popped up in other research she was doing. This was so helpful because it made me realize how much she cared and provided some great food for the whole family! When she went gluten free it was even better! Also, although my sister Stacey has always been supportive of my diet, I felt a tremendous connection to her when she went gluten free. I am so happy she has found benefits from it.
6. Family and friends. I can't even begin to express my gratitude towards my family and friends that have not only encouraged me in my diet but gone out of their way to learn about my diet restrictions and provide special foods when I visit their home or dine out with them. When I visit my dad, he always lays out all the ingredients before he begins cooking to make sure they are safe. Thanks Dad!
7. Realize Your Diet Changes Affect Others. The diet changes I have made for myself have not only been good for me, but my entire family. I feel good knowing that I am providing good quality meals for my children that are free of harmful things that could later put them in the same position I found myself.
8. Reward Yourself. Find something on your list that you enjoy and make sure you treat yourself to it often. Funny thing is, the food you start to crave may totally surprise you. When I started on my diet four years ago, I would look forward to my snack of celery and almond butter. Who would have thought that would be my treat! I think it is just reconditioning our mind with something new. Once I started eating it everyday, it became what chocolate used to be to me.
I know many of my readers are also on restrictive diets. Do you have other suggestions?