Despite what many naysayers and skeptics would have you believe, eating healthy is only getting easier and less expensive these days.
But what if you have special dietary needs? For many, it's not as simple as just "eating healthy"—it's "eating healthy plus no-dairy and no-nuts" or "trying to eat healthy while following the Autoimmune Protocol" or even "limiting FODMAPs." What does that all mean? We've got the lowdown.
Allergens and Sensitivities:
Some people have sensitivities or allergies to certain types of food. Without getting overly "science-y" (which is a word, trust us), in most situations, the reaction is caused by the proteins in the types of food. A term here to be familiar with is Leaky Gut, which is a degree of intestinal permeability that allows larger-than-intended food particles (including proteins) to pass into the bloodstream. Your body mistakes the particle as a pathogen or unwanted invader and BOOM: big reaction.
It's nothing to take lightly, as anyone will tell you that has experienced a serious anaphylactic response to a food allergy. Common food allergies are to gluten, peanuts, dairy, tree nuts, shellfish, coconut, and eggs.
How to Adapt:
The good news is, if you have food aversions, swaps and replacements are readily available these days. There are gluten-free versions of breads, pizzas, pastas, and most are available where healthy food is sold. If you have a peanut allergy and want to try something like peanut butter, give sunbutter a shot, which is made from sunflower seeds. If you have an egg allergy but still like to bake, try making a "flax egg."
Another category of special diets involves food preferences, which includes being a vegetarian or vegan, pescetarian, Paleo, or following a sugar-free diet. While these don't have the same medical implications as a food allergy, many followers take them every bit as seriously.
How to Adapt:
Most of these diets aren't that hard to follow, since they only require the avoidance of certain food categories. Paleo, or the "Paleolithic" diet, mimics the protein-heavy menu of our ancestors. Carbs aren't welcome here, but there are plenty of options. For sandwiches, lettuce can stand in for bread. Pasta night? Opt for spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Pizza crusts can be made with grain-free flours like chestnut flour, arrowroot flour, or even cauliflower (which is great).
Special Diets for Medical Conditions:
A third group of people follow specialty diets for medical benefits. Some of these diets include the AutoImmune Protocol (AIP), FODMAP avoidance, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). All of these special dietary guidelines have specific food lists that benefit different conditions. AIP limits ingredients that cause an autoimmune response. A low-FODMAP diet limits fermentable carbohydrates (which can cause IBS-like symptoms for some). SCD helps to shift the gut flora for those with Crohn's and Colitis, as well as IBS. And GAPS helps to heal leaky gut.
How to Adapt:
For the AutoImmune Protocol (AIP), the list gets fairly tricky, but you are essentially avoiding foods that could cause an autoimmune response: eggs, nightshades, and dairy, to name a few. For those with FODMAP sensitivities, consult the rather extensive FODMAP food list; you'll be skirting most foods that are avoided for Paleo folks anyway, with the addition of things like coconut, avocado, onions, garlic, and high-fructose fruits.
If you've read any of these and a light bulb went off, like "hey, that sounds familiar," our best piece of advice is to seek the help of a qualified medical professional.
We recognized the great for specialty diet filters on our website early on. It became a goal of ours to make finding recipes as easy as possible, even for those with unique limitations. We introduced 12 filtering elements that help people find precisely the recipes they are looking for.
Once you find recipes you can use, it's time to plan your meals (another free tool we have on our site), and shop for ingredients. We love how easy Thrive makes it to find the ingredients you're looking for. Our favorite way to do it is to click the "Shop By" option, and select Paleo. Let us help you find the right recipes, then come back for the best prices around on the ingredients we love.
Photo credit: jonesing1 via Flickr