Thinking of making a change to your diet? Whether its due to allergies or personal beliefs, it’s never completely straight forward. It can be hard cutting a certain type of food out when you have eaten it since you were a child. Here are my top tips for anybody needing or wanting to start their journey.
- Why?: Think about the reasons why you are making this change. When I went vegan, I spent a lot of time researching the benefits a vegan lifestyle can have on my health, the environment and the well-being of animals. When I went gluten-free, it was because of the problems I was having with my health and was advised to cut gluten out by a doctor. Make sure, whatever your reason, that it is a good one and that this change is going to benefit you in some way – that will be enough to motivate you in sticking to your new diet.
- Research: This is probably the most important tip of all. You have to know exactly what you can and can’t eat. Throughout my research, I spent time reading books, searching the internet and researching habits of people online which are also vegan and/or gluten-free. Through your research, it is important to establish where you are going to source all of the key food groups from, along with vitamins. It will also make it a lot easier when you’re faced with the supermarket (note my next tip).
- Plan: To help you get a balanced and varied diet, plan you weekly meals! I sit down every Sunday and write my list of breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the whole week. It might seem like a tedious task, but it means I am able to eat a balanced and varied diet. It also means that supermarkets aren’t so tempting for foods which you are trying to cut out because you can make a beeline for the foods on your list. It also means your food shops take half, as much time and you only buy necessities.
- Read the small print: I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen something yummy, bought it and then realised I can’t eat it! This is particularly important if you are changing your diet due to medical reasons. It takes a long time at first, but double check every packaged item you buy and within a few weeks you know the majority of what you can or can’t have.
- Find alternatives to the foods you love: There is nothing more upsetting than the thought of never being able to eat the foods you enjoy again. However, due to the growing awareness of food preferences and allergies, this doesn’t have to be the case. Find alternatives to the food you usually crave but ‘can’t’ eat anymore. It’s always (sadly) exciting when you find that great alternative!
- Invest: The easiest way to find new and exciting meals is by investing in recipe books! There is a whole world of them out there and they have helped me no-end with inspiration. Check out the image above for my favourite vegan cookbooks – most of the recipes can be converted to gluten-free with ease.
- Treat yourself: Don’t restrict yourself from social eating because you aren’t sure what you can/can’t have. Spend time researching restaurants and check out my blog post Eating Out Tips.