The most effective way to be in control of your diet is to prepare your own meals. This will also help you to enjoy your food more as you’re not dependent on other people’s culinary skills. (Of course, if you happen to have a private chef, or a skilful mum, who will cook everything for you, you won’t need to bother – unfortunately, this is not an option for most of us!)
If you don’t know how to cook, now is the time to learn. If you do know how to do it, you will still benefit from learning about different ingredients and how to make them work for your special diet.
Where to start your learning process?
There are now quite a number of cookery books for special diets. Admittedly, the range is better for those with just one dietary restriction, but more books for multiple restrictions are coming to the market all the time. Visit your local library or browse an online bookshop to find out what’s available.
Recipes for special diets online
There is a multitude of free recipes online. You can do an online search if you’re looking for a specific type of recipe, or you can read and subscribe to recipe blogs for special diets. The advantage of recipe blogs is that many of them also explain about the substitute ingredients and how they work.
Bear in mind that if you’re reading a blog that is based in a different country from where you live, you may not find all the ingredients in your local shops. You may also find that the way the ingredients are measured is different from what you’re used to. To find blogs, have a look at the Resources section.
Some cookery schools organise courses for people with special diets. Often these are aimed at either coeliacs or diabetics, although other options may be available, too. Some cookery schools will take into account your dietary restrictions even on their ‘normal’ courses provided they’re not entirely based around the ingredient you’re sensitive to (for example, bread making courses would be unlikely to cater for gluten-free diets). To find out where your nearest cookery school is and what they offer, do an online search or consult the www.freefromrecipesmatter.com website.
Cooking in a group or with a friend
If you know other people with dietary restrictions, you could suggest to them that you learn to make new dishes together, say, once a month. You could take turns in hosting the cooking session and share the cost of ingredients. Learning to do new things with other people can be really fun.
If you don’t know anyone else with the same or similar special diet, contact an organisation or a support group in your local area that focuses on your condition. Then go to their meetings and make new friends.
If you know about substitute ingredients and understand how they work in general, it’s time to start experimenting: try to modify recipes that you find interesting or create your own recipes. Be adventurous and expand your comfort zone.
As you start learning and trying new ingredients and recipes, keep an open mind. Some of the substitute ingredients may not taste exactly the same as what you may have been used to, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be delicious. If you do find that you don’t like a particular taste, there’s nothing stopping you from moving on and finding another ingredient.
Good luck with your journey. Enjoy the process and your new discoveries!
Copyright © Tarja Moles 2012. All rights reserved. Photo © Manon Ringuette | Dreamstime.com
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Tarja Moles is the author of No Naughties: Sweet Treats without Sugar, Wheat, Gluten and Yeast. Visit www.nonaughties.com for free recipes and information on special diets and living with multiple dietary restrictions.