Medically Necessary Diet? Don’t Freak Out!

 

A few months ago, I was in a local health food store and saw a sad but familiar sight: a woman with an utterly bewildered expression standing in the gluten-free aisle. I asked her if I could help her find something, and she said, “I don’t know! The doctor told me today that I have celiac disease and that I’m never going to be able to eat pizza again! What do I do?”

Many chronic illnesses require lifestyle adjustment, but the ones that affect what we can eat really hit us where we live. When we don’t feel well and are out of spoons, all we want to do is chow down on comfort food and escape for awhile. Then, when we are told we can no longer eat what we please, the future seems very gloomy. But this is NOT the end of the world.

Over the past 14 years, I have developed not one but several ailments that affect my diet. First, there is Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes dryness of my mouth, throat and bowels. If I eat something that is not moist, like overcooked meat, it can get caught. I have nearly choked to death twice. Next, I have gastroparesis, which is paralysis of the stomach muscles. I was initially told I’d be on nothing but baby food and rice for the rest of my life. That turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have to eat easy-to-digest foods at certain times of the day and must be on a liquid diet for part of each day. Third, there is celiac disease, the only treatment for which is complete avoidance of wheat, rye, barley and oats. Fourth is my diabetes, which requires small meals at regular intervals containing a certain amount of protein and carbohydrates. I also have gastroesophageal reflux disease, which I attempt to manage by limiting certain spicy or acidic foods and avoiding others altogether. Foods containing MSG or aspartame give me migraines, so I don’t eat them. And if all that weren’t enough, last month I found out that my eight-year gastroparesis diet, which is low fiber, was beginning to have serious bowel consequences, so somehow I must figure out how to increase my fiber intake without jeopardizing my ability to get it past my non-working stomach. Handling all this simultaneously is a bit like juggling knives while riding a unicycle on a tightrope with no net, but I do manage it, every day. Food is one of my favorite things in the world. I survive, and so can just about anyone on a medically necessary diet.

When the doctor diagnoses you with a disease that is helped by altering what you eat, fight the urge to panic. Instead, take a deep breath. Focus on exactly what the doctor is telling you. Sometimes, the reality of dietary change is a lot less of a disaster than what our imaginations can dream up. If your particular ailment is something you’ve never heard of, ask the doctor to write it down for you. Find out if there are any handouts or brochures in the office that you can take home with you. See if there are any websites the doctor recommends that you can visit to learn more.

If you have a complex ailment or a combination of illnesses that require special diets, inquire about nutritional counseling. Many health care plans cover courses for diabetics if your doctor refers you. In some cases, you can get one-on-one time with a dietitian. Even one session can be beneficial, as I discovered when I visited with one last month.

When you look up your illness on the internet, start with doctor-recommended websites only. If you simply type the name of your ailment into a search engine, you risk not only information overload, but data that might be incorrect and/or very harmful. If your medical problem is known to be incurable, steer clear of any website that claims otherwise as it is very likely a scam. In the absence of a recommendation from your doctor, begin with sites from reliable sources such as the Mayo Clinic or the National Institutes of Health. Should you find yourself getting confused or overwhelmed, shut off the computer and regroup, perhaps calling your doctor with any questions you might have.

Before you begin shopping for food, make some notes. Focus on what you CAN eat rather than what you can’t.  You might think at first that there is nothing good, a very common reaction, particularly if your new diet is very restricted, but if you start writing down foods you know to be safe you may be surprised how much there is available. What are your favorites? If they don’t violate your restrictions, by all means keep buying them. If your favorites are no longer allowed, see if you can modify them slightly to make them safe for you. For instance, if you love pizza but have celiac disease, you can buy gluten-free pizza dough mixes, pre-made frozen crusts, whole frozen pizzas, or even delivery pizza in certain locations.

Will you need to shop at a specialty store? Perhaps not, depending on your restrictions. Try visiting your regular grocery store first. Many now carry organic foods and have either separate health food sections or specialty products mixed into the regular aisles. Some will put color-coded labels for gluten-free, low sodium or other special designation on their shelves to make them easier to find. I buy the majority of my food at the grocery store because it is cheaper (or, rather, my husband does as I don’t have enough energy to shop most of the time), and I visit the health food market perhaps once a month for a few items the grocery store doesn’t carry. If you live in a remote area with no access to specialty foods, you can often find what you need online and have it shipped to your home. 

One thing to be said in favor of health food stores is that you can often get help deciding what to try. Most of the specialty stores I have frequented have employees that are knowledgeable about the products they carry. They may even be on restricted diets themselves, or have at least tried items in the store. 

With some diets, the type of food is not in question but rather the portion size, what you eat it with, the time of day you eat it or how often it is eaten. If you are not in the habit of reading labels, take a look at some of the food already in your home to get a general idea of where it falls within your guidelines. For those who need to track portion size and/or intake of contents like fiber, protein, carbohydrates, fat, etc. I highly recommend acquiring a digital food scale. Some foods can be deceptive; one serving of pasta, for example, is much smaller before cooking than after. Diabetics can keep much better control over their glucose levels when they know precisely how much they are eating. Keeping a food diary or list of glucose levels will also help you stay on track. You may find that some foods are unacceptable in large quantities but are okay in small bits. For instance, I should not eat an entire candy bar in one sitting, but I can get away with a daily square of extra dark chocolate, approximately one-quarter of a serving, and I find it satisfies my craving for sweets without elevating my glucose levels or activating my reflux.

When you begin your new diet, keep it simple at first: broiled plain meats, fresh fruits and veggies, plain rice, or whatever is appropriate for your condition. Do this for a few weeks while you get acclimated. If you can avoid restaurant and special occasion food during that time, it might be easier. It is said that it takes at least two weeks of adherence to a new way of eating for it to start becoming a habit. You may get frustrated and grumpy while you are learning, which is normal, but you will gradually gain confidence if you stick with it. Should you make a mistake, don’t let it be an excuse to give up. Make your very next meal a good one. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, then start looking into eating out, trying new recipes, etc.

If you have a partner and/or kids at home, should they change their diets too? It would save you spoons if you only have to cook a single meal for everyone, and if you have a food allergy, you definitely would have to declare the kitchen an allergen-free zone. Certain diseases, like diabetes and celiac disease, tend to run in families, so your children may be healthier eating as you do. But if what you can eat is extremely restrictive, having the whole family change might be an unreasonable expectation for them. In that case, perhaps your partner would be willing to cook “normal” food for everyone else to save you spoons. My husband prepares his own meals most of the time, and once or twice a week, I make something we both can eat with enough leftovers for a few days.

When you are ready to venture out into the wonderful world of restaurant food, keep in mind that some places may be more likely than others to accommodate you. If you know ahead of time where you will be going, see if they have a website containing nutritional information or ingredient lists. Some have special menus or charts listing allergen information, which is very handy. Take their information with you. If the restaurant takes reservations, when you call them, mention that you are on a medically necessary diet. You may want to talk to the manager and/or chef ahead of time so that they can make appropriate arrangements. Some chain restaurants use prepackaged food, and the staff may have no idea what’s actually in it. If this is the case, you might be better off avoiding the restaurant, or, if it’s a special group occasion, eat ahead of time and just sip on a safe drink during the meal and socialize. You may find that restaurants that use all natural ingredients prepared fresh daily are a better choice. An example would be Indian food for a person with celiac disease as most of the sauces are gluten free which means a larger selection of safe meal choices than a sandwich place. When dining out, portion sizes tend to be rather large, so you might consider sharing with someone else or taking some of your meal home with you. If a restaurant does a good job accommodating you, be sure to express your gratitude and remember to tip well.

In certain social situations like church potlucks and parties at someone else’s home, unless you have been assured ahead of time that there will be something safe to eat, you will probably want to take responsibility for your own meal. Bring a dish to share that you know you can have, or just bring enough for yourself if your diet is very restrictive. Even if you’re pretty sure you’ll be fed, carry something with you just in case. There have been occasions where there was so much going on at an event that the host forgot to make anything safe for me, so I was able to grab a protein bar from my purse and keep my glucose levels stable until time to go home.

Another situation where you may want to bring your own food is when you are traveling. Airports don’t typically have a lot of specialty food choices, and even if you ate before you left the house, there is always the possibility your flight might be delayed several hours or get cancelled. You may even find yourself stuck for a few hours in an airplane waiting to take off. On long flights, you might be able to request a special meal, but a backup is still a good idea. A few years ago, I was on an eight-hour flight to Hawaii, and the gluten-free meal I was supposed to get wasn’t there. I was given a chicken breast sitting on a pile of whole wheat pasta, and when I explained to the flight attendant that I couldn’t eat that, she shrugged and walked away. I ended up eating a bag of corn chips that came with my husband’s sandwich, and I never again traveled without my own stash of food. To make it easier to get through security, bring a note from your doctor with you stating your medical condition.

For those of you diagnosed with an actual food allergy, obtain and fill a prescription for an Epi-pen. Take it with you EVERY place you may come into contact with food. Better to have it available and not need it than to risk a potentially life-threatening situation.

A medically required diet may result in some health benefits, depending on the condition and what choices you make. If you can no longer order from the fast food drive through, you might lose out on some convenience, but you may also be gaining an opportunity to replace it with more nutritious items. For instance, a diabetic who avoids processed products and switches to frequent small meals consisting of lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains may end up needing less medication than someone who continues to eat the typical American diet. Less medication means less of a burden on the kidneys and liver. Heart disease and high cholesterol may become less of a factor. You could achieve a healthy weight range. Your energy levels could become more consistent or even increase. Think about what you have to gain the next time you find yourself craving your old diet.

You may also find your diet to be an excellent opportunity to try foods that are new to you. Since 2003, I have incorporated into my diet foods containing the whole grains teff, amaranth, flax seed, quinoa and buckwheat (which despite the name does NOT contain wheat). I was also surprised to discover that I like Greek yogurt, soy milk, and tofu made into stir fry or chili. Trying out new allowed foods and being creative will make your diet seem less of a chore and more of an adventure.

If your diet must be so restricted that nutrition is of concern (gastroparesis can be an example of this), you might benefit from supplementation. But please check with your doctor before trying anything, even a generic over-the-counter multi-vitamin. It is important to make sure you don’t take something that might interfere with your prescription medications or exacerbate your illness.

Do not let well-meaning friends or relatives tempt you into eating something you know you shouldn’t. At some point, you will probably hear something similar to the following: “Just this once!” “But it’s a holiday/wedding/birthday!” “Come on, one little bite won’t kill you!” Some people might mistakenly think your new diet is a fad or that you are just being picky. Sure, your condition might allow an occasional indulgence, but it can be easy to let one indulgence lead to several, and that could undo any progress you might have been making. For instance, a person with celiac disease who has some gluten-filled cake at a party might not end up in the emergency room, but they could end up too ill to leave their home for multiple days afterward and damage their intestines, which could take months to heal. Consider the possible consequences of cheating on your diet before you go back for seconds on Thanksgiving or before you reach for a food your doctor has warned you against.

Here are some links to websites and pages I have found useful:

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/index.htm   The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Part of the National Institutes of Health. http://gicare.com/Diets/diets-main.aspx   Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology’s list of 37 specific diets. Their gastroparesis diet has been recommended to me by three different doctors. http://www.celiac.com/   Celiac.com has helpful and informative articles, a monthly e-mail newsletter, recipes, a message board, lists of safe and unsafe foods, and an online mall where you can order gluten-free products. http://www.livingwithout.com/   Living Without, the magazine for people with allergies and food sensitivities. Recipes, articles and tips. http://www.wehealnewyork.org/healthinfo/dietaryfiber/fibercontentchart.html   A list of the average fiber content of various food, in alphabetical order. http://www.food.com/recipes/diabetic  Diabetic recipes via the Food.com website.

Medically necessary diets may not initially be our idea of a good time, but they are definitely doable.
 

Article written by staff writer, Karen Brauer

Karen Brauer is a happily married woman in her forties living in a little house on the prairie. Her passions include: photography; classic and some modern literature; classic, foreign and some modern film; and music of all kinds. Her blog is called “browser life”: http://browserlife.blogspot.com/

©2019butyoudontlooksick.com
  • Linda Megdanis

    WHAT A GREAT SITE…I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH TONIGHT TO HELP WITH MY DIETARY ISSUES…THANK YOU SO MUCH…ALL OF YOU! ;)4U

  • Linda Megdanis

    THANKS LYN FOR THE TIP ON TERRAMAZON RAW CACAO…JUST THE THING I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR! ;)4U

  • Linda Megdanis

    JENNIFER, SORRY YOU HAVE THESE PROBLEMS FROM YOUR ILLNESS…BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT YOU ARE DOING JUST GREAT MANAGING THEM AND FEELING BETTER FOR IT…I TOO HAVE FAMILY THAT DO NOT UNDERSTAND..WHILE EXTREMELY AGGRAVATING, I DO NOT LET THIS SWAY ME FROM MY CHOICE TO DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO MAKE MYSELF COMFORTABLE. THEY WILL PROBABLY NEVER GET IT…GOOD LUCK TO YOU & HANG TOUGH…OH AND CHECK OUT “SPOON THEORY”. IT’S A LITTLE STORY I THINK YOU’ll LIKE AND IDENTIFY WITH.
    YOU CAN GET IT PRINTED ON A POSTER…WHEN THE LOVED ONES CRANK UP, POINT TO THE POSTER AND SAY “THIS WILL EXPLAIN EVERYTHING.” 😉

  • Jennifer

    I just read this article, and want to say I’m glad and sorry there are so many of us. I have endometriosis, but am the rare presentation of it. I have a grand total of two gyn symptoms, and lots of gastro symptoms (due to cysts in the blood supply to my intestines causing them to have seizures which range from an almost tickling feeling to “holy hell can I saw my abdomen off?”). It also reacts to insulin highs and lows.

    I’m lucky that I’ve been on my diet (low tyramine, no excitatory chemicals) for 9 months now, and it has forced me to learn to cook. Unfortunately, I struggle with my family’s reactions to all the changes I’ve had to make when I’m home from college. It ranges from “Your diet is ruining my life” (my mother’s reaction to me asking her to please put her huge chocolate stash somewhere where I don’t have to see it every day) to throwing tantrums about every meal or me being in their way in the kitchen.

  • Bella

    Great article, for anyone. I have Sjogrens syndrome, associated with lupus, as well as severe GERD,esophageal imotility,espophageal stricture and sometimes bowel issues. I,like you, have had dry or dense food,namely rice,get stuck in my espophagus. It is very frightening to have a big lump in your espophagus and no way to get it down or out. As you know, just drinking something doesn’t always do anything, it just overflows like a glass or water… I do want point out, though, that, as frightening as it is, you will not “choke to death” unless the ingested substance has gone into to your trachea instead of your espophagus. It is true, though, that you could aspirate that material INTO the trachea, when it started out in the espophagus. Hope you are well.

  • grumpycrohnie

    Thank you for this.

    If I might make one suggestion, a food/symptom diary. Write down what you eat, when, and where it was from. Add which meds and when they were taken. Also write down any symptoms/side effects you experience. When you repeat an unusual symptom, you can go back and see if there was anything in common between the two occurances. You won’t have to do it forever, but it was very helpful to me initially. Maybe you need to take a med with food or have to avoid a specific restaurant or have an undiagnosed food sensativity.

    No matter what diet you are on, you will need to be your own advocate and not give in to what other people say because it is easier. You can just ignore them, nod your head, say you will look into it, or whatever other way you wish to deal with them.

    If they hide something it in my food because they think they know better, or use it thinking it doesn’t apply, I am the one who will pay for it. I try to ask for my food in restaurants without seasoning. Not because I want bland food, but because I am allergic to bell peppers and chilis, and everyone feels they need to use paprika. What they don’t seem to understand is that paprika added for color is still paprika…

    I am tired of people thinking I am a picky eater. The only thing I avoid because I don’t like them is (are?) poppy seeds.

  • Joan

    What a great story, I am at a turn point in my life and need to get my act together, due to my numerous health issues, I have gained a lot of weight, and now my knees are affected so I need a drastic lifestyle change. I also have Sjogren’s Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis etc,etc,etc, I’m a walking medical dictionary lol. I see the Orthopedic Surgeon Feb 14th as my knees are in real bad shape, so it is time for me to shape up lol. Thank you again for a great story…

  • Daniel Beegan

    A word of warning. While some health food store employees are excellent sources of information, others are promoters of unscientific garbage.

    They may, for example, try to sell you supplements that drain your wallet but do little if anything to help you.

    I am NOT saying to avoid health food or natural food stores as they can be a sources of cookbooks and food that work into a special diet very well.

  • Sarah Phelps

    Thanks Karen!
    A wonderful article, expressing all those things I would like to share with friends (about how it actually feels to be on a restricted diet), but could not put into words. I’ve now sent them all this article 🙂

    My diet is a tricky one, because it’s not one that’s widely known or recognised in any supermarket or restaurant, or so far, any recipe book!

    It’s called an amine free diet. The biggest things I have to cut out is tomato, cheese and chocolate – a nightmare for cooking! Also, because amines occur in nearly EVERYTHING (even natural things, not just processed things) it can make it hard.

    You not only have to change what you eat, but how you cook what you eat (for example, meat is best steamed or microwaved), and how fresh what you eat is (for example, meat must not be older than two days old, and fruit & veg – the ones I’m allowed – must be as fresh as possible). I can’t freeze anything (freezing increases amine levels). ARGHH!

    It can be really hard – I’m definitely not well enough to go shopping every day for fresh meat and vegetables – I typically only shop once a week. Even then, the fruit & vegies aren’t “fresh” – I know they were picked long ago, and then stored, and then shipped, and then stored, and then displayed for me to buy. Coconuts can be a month old by the time they reach the shelf.
    I live in a very small country town, so there’s no fruit shops, or orchards nearby.

    *sighs* but I AM thankful for the things I can still eat 🙂
    Like apples, and fingerbuns and vanilla ice cream 🙂

    Thanks for letting me share 🙂
    If anyone has any amine free recipes – please share!

    [email protected]

  • I appreciate all the responses! I am sure the UK recommendations will be helpful to some fellow spoonies.

    Regarding the MSG, there is an Asian restaurant chain called P.F. Chang’s that absolutely does not use it. They also have their gluten-free choices right on the regular menu! Now, if I can just convince them to open a restaurant in my current town….

    I hadn’t thought of venison, but it would probably be a good choice for someone who has to keep their fat intake low. If you want something that tastes pretty close to beef, buffalo is much lower in fat than beef. I suspect that it is probably more readily available in certain parts of the country (like in Colorado and South Dakota) than others.

    I got a VERY suspicious eye from TSA when I tried to go through security with a backpack cooler containing 14 bottles of Boost. I was going on a cruise where I wouldn’t have access to any liquid nutrition. They looked over my doctor’s note, swabbed my hands for traces of explosives, and reluctantly let me through after a lot of discussion. I figure even when you don’t need the doctor’s note, it doesn’t hurt to have it on you.

    Gastroparesis is one tricky disorder! I get a lot of advice from people recommending peppermint or ginger as it is supposed to be helpful for an upset stomach. But peppermint in particular completely shuts my digestion down. And it is difficult to get people to understand that certain foods I can eat maybe once a week as it takes them so long to get through my system.

    For those of you trying to get through the family gatherings, hang in there! Pretend your bottle of water is champagne and your plain chicken is cordon bleu if you have it :0)

  • Lyn

    Chocolate has an unusually high fiber content. An Endangered Species 88% extreme dark chocolate has 6g fiber per serving (43g) which is about half a bar.

    TerrAmazon Raw cacao nibs have 11 g fiber per 1 oz serving (130 calories, 6g fat).

    What a way to increase one’s fiber 🙂 .

  • Stefanie

    Awesome article! I too have migraine reactions to MSG. I will be so happy when the world catches on to how many of us there are. Other than that, I don’t really have a restrictive diet, we have just found that certain foods send my Lupus into a tantrum so we avoid them such as trans fat. Beef is high in trans fat, so we eat venison at home instead, and I enjoy an occassional steak (ask for it cooked with no spices, sauces, or marinades at all, add salt and pepper at the table–they can and will do that) when we go out knowing full well that the consequences could mean a full day in bed the next day if the steak is “well-marbled”.
    We also think I have a touch of a gluten allergy, so we limit that intake. I love my cereal though, and was so happy to see Gluten free Chex! One of my favorites! (oh, it’s the littlest things in our spoonie world). I also have reactions to dairy certain times of the month that causes cramping and other side effects, so I munch on my gluten free Chex right out of the box (don’t tell my kids that!).
    It’s life changing for sure. I think I have a record of emails to restaurants about MSG a mile long, but I know where and what I can eat when we go out. We just stick to restaurants we know, and do most of our eating at home where we can control exactly what goes into our food. And I love my local Kroger for the organic section at the store so when I have a craving for something I can find it easily in a form that I can eat.
    Again, fabulous article! Thanks!

  • Crystal

    I had a family friend who is on a restricted diet. She could not have wheat or sugar but loved my mom’s scones. Spelt flour was a great option for her and swapping applesauce for the sugar and some of the fat. Carol loved the scones and could treat herself to 1 a week. Mom and I enjoyed them too.
    I saw first hand how much better Carol was doing after she was on the diet compared to before.
    Right now I feel like I’m on a temporary restricted diet due to morning sickness and have been re-evaluating everything I eat based on how I feel when thinking of that food.

  • Susie

    Karen,
    Thank you for this article. It probably sounds strange to anyone who doesn’t have them, but having dietary restrictions can be a very isolating problem. I, too, have multiple/overlapping GI problems and I find it very difficult to explain to family (my adult brothers and sisters) and friends who think I’m being “too picky” or roll their eyes when I say I can’t eat certain things. I try very hard to be as inconspicuous as I can about my meal being “different” from theirs, but someone invariably comments on it, and then I get the reactions. I’m so sick of trying to explain that, for example, I CAN’T eat beef (I have gastroparesis and intestinal motility problems) because my stomach and intestines will be trying to digest it for DAYS… and in the meantime, I’ll be on the couch practically in tears with bloating and pain. It’s not that I WON’T eat it! Believe me, I’d give anything for a burger or a steak!! They don’t (or won’t) try to understand. One thing, in particular, makes it very difficult, which is that I can’t eat rice because it just seems to “get stuck” in my GI system. But people generally associate rice as a food that is “good for people with stomach problems”. So when I won’t eat rice, the eyes really start rolling!!! What they can’t seem to get is that I don’t just have an “upset stomach”.
    Keep in mind that I’m an RN, so I’d be able to explain the physiological reasons why I have dietary restrictions….. if any of them would actually be interested enough to TRY to understand my situation. But I know that’s never going to happen.
    Thank god for my husband and son!! They are so understanding, probably because they sees, first hand, the results of my eating a forbidden food. They’re always there to warm up my heating pad for me to lay on my stomach and make a cup of warm tea for me. My husband has offered many times to follow my diet with me so that I don’t have to cook “two meals”, but I would never do that to him. So I just modify what we’re having for dinner, like making myself a small pot of couscous in addition to the pot of rice for them. Or just throwing a chicken breast on the grill alongside their steaks. No big deal!
    Sometimes I’d just like to tell my brothers and sisters to eat their damned rice, shut up, and mind their own damned business!
    Thanks for letting me get all that off my chest!

  • MomD

    I love the article! I’m Gluten-Free, I have Secondary Sjogren’s syndrome (2nd to Lupus) AND Gastroparesis! SO– Eating is a somewhat task for me– with a lot of cross referencing! and that doesn’t even include the allergies….
    It gets very overwhelming… and very limited– to things “I know i can eat this” and that’s what i usually eat…. always :/ It’s kinda good though my other conditions make me have zero appetite most of the time anyway– so I really don’t miss out much! 😛

  • donna

    WOW there are OTHER people like me…! its best to tell people what l CAN eat rather than what l cant! as this list is ENDLESS! meat fish and vegtable’s is OK ( minus any grains including rice and rice milk ,all dairy ,gluten, beans ,legumes,bananna’s and tomatoes..) so this weekend we went to relatives who know lm on a DODGY diet..because l would be more poorly if l ate the not on the list ingredients.. l took my own stuff and a cooked a chicken so lm NO trouble to them .. lucky really as they had made US a huge lasagne ,garlic bread and a lovely trifle for pudding..there was nothing for me ..( they had phoned and asked what l could and couldnt..)so l sat watching them eat ..chomping on my DRY chicken..which l made last all weekend..a jacket potatoe is sooo easy..!! its bad enough when you have nice food to eat but cant drink anything other than water..they keep saying go on a drop of wine won’t hurt you!l felt so sad ..BUT l stayed and enjoyed the conversation..have to look for the good in all the bad…thanks for letting me vent off its good to talk ..xx

  • natty

    And if u want to eat out in the UK, go to Nando’s, even if you are a vegetarian or have loads of allergies!
    They have this enormous allergy book that lets you look up everything you can and can’t eat on their menu!
    Also, tesco cafes have a book, M&S cafes sell glute free food and National Trust properties have at least two things you can choose between in their restaurants.
    They often have frozen rolls they can defrost for you, plus soup and always have yummy cakes and biscuits!

  • natty

    Hi, a grea article.
    A tip for anyone in the UK who is a coeliac- the food the GP prescribes is boring and not very nice!
    Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose sell wonderful gluten free foods, both packet, fresh and frozen.
    But my biggest tip is Marks & Spencer. Their Gluten Free range looks quite limited on first glance but that’s because so many of their ‘normal’ food are gluten free! Do you like ‘pigs in blankets’ at Christmas?! M&S ones are gluten free! Spend some time looking at labels, it’s well worth it! Also, their GF food is mixed in with their non GF food.
    At the other supermarkets, there are special sections just for us!!

  • Lillian

    Karen,
    What a great article! It’s super long but contains bits about EVERYTHING anyone needs to know about altering nutrition for medical reasons.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your bring-your-own-airplane-food when possible. For most US Domestic flights you shouldn’t need a note from your doctor if you package the food in baggies and/or plastic tupperware containers as long as you don’t have liquids or gels in there (frozen stuff, however, is usually overlooked). However, do be aware that you are not allowed to bring food on certain international flights (to the UK for one) — so in that instance you may really need to do your homework before flying internationally.

    Great job and thanks for all the links. And to those of us with these types of dietary restrictions — remember that many magazines are featuring gluten-free foods; case in point: an AMAZING dessert issue that I picked up in August (I think??), so just keep your eyes peeled. 🙂