Managing a dietary restriction

Have you recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease? Have you been told to loose weight for health reasons or have you developed a  lactose intolerance? Do you have a bowel condition like coeliac's disease?   If the answer is yes to any of these or other dietary related questions then the first thing to say is  - don't panic! There are millions of others in the UK alone who, for one reason or another, need to put  dietary restrictions in place and often these changes need to be lifelong. So, remember you're not alone. That in itself is empowering.

So, whether you are about to embark on making new dietary changes, or  feel you need to re-evaluate what you're already doing, before you  start here are a few tips.  Make any changes your own and, above all else, feel good about them. Look upon this experience as a wonderful  opportunity to create a new you. Get out there, expand  your horizons. It will be a fantastic journey. Understand as much as you can about what and why changes need to be made and  this  will go some way towards making you feel more in tune with your body and what it needs.  Keep a food diary if you need to and know what works for you. Try not to be too restrictive though as this may  cause further sensitivities. Don't be afraid to experiment with new foods, flavours and styles of cooking. Be prepared to be amazed and enjoy the ride.

For me though  the basic starting point for anyone needing to make dietary changes,  for whatever reason, has to be understanding about the Glycaemic Index (GI) and Insulin production. It has been suggested that problems with insulin production may be the single most important underlying metabolic dysfunction related to chronic diseases such as Diabetes, heart disease, cancer risk and dementia. So, when deciding what to eat and drink, choose foods with a low glycaemic index load - that is foods low in dense carbohydrate, such as corgettes and cruciferous veg.  Low GI foods  slow down the release of glucose into the blood stream. Also, up the protein  - go for fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. A cautionary tale is to be careful of fruit, as some can be high on the glycaemic index due to their natural sugar content.  Also, beware the hidden sugar carbohydrate content in alcohol! If you have in excess of 3 stone to loose you may want to omit fruit and alcohol until significant weight loss has been achieved. The interesting thing is that once you get the basic GI  science right   you will banish hunger, your energy levels will rise and life will just seem so much better.  For some of you the high protein/low carb approach  might be new territory. If you  need a bit of help to get started  visit my shop where  I have  chosen a few cook books/nutritional guides for you. If you're new to the issues a good hand book with recipes is well worth investing in. A real mover and shaker in the low GI field is Leslie Kenton, who has written extensively  about the issues over the years.  Her classic "The X-factor diet" is an excellent start for anyone new to the subject. (Visit my shop to view her book.) To gain inspiration  I urge you to also visit  Leslie Kenton's website.

For those  gluten free fromers out there you may want to  visit Dom's free from guide as well as visiting my shop, where I have chosen a few cookbooks.  Also, remember that your body changes continually and you will need to re-evaluate every few months. Be self aware and prepared to make further changes as necessary. Nothing is ever written on tablets of stone and you may find that, once you have achieved an optimum balance, you may be able to extend your food range even further.

The other side of the dietary equation though, particularly if you need to loose weight, is to exercise regularly.  However, more about this in my optimising  health and fitness blog.

Finally, as with so much else in life, focus and commit to the process. The changes can be both dramatic and surprising. Enjoy them. Don't look back and never  regret that you can't eat the things that you used to. Love what you eat and enjoy the benefits. Here's to  a new you!