Special Dietary Needs: Tips for Dealing with Them

When you have special needs, you can sometimes feel like a freak. It is not your fault, and you are most certainly not a freak. You are the awkward person at the party. Friends are hesitant to invite you out to lunch because they can’t go where they really want to go. They won’t invite you over to their house for dinner because they are afraid that something they give you will send you into an anaphylactic shock.

There are more special diets than you might realize. Here are just a few:

  1. Diabetic diets
  2. Irritable bowel syndrome diets
  3. Gluten-free diets
  4. Allergy diets including bread, lactose, peanuts, etc.
  5. Vegetarian diets
  6. Vegan diets
  7. Pescatarian diets
  8. High protein diets
  9. Low carb diets
  10. Limited calorie diets

There are tons of special needs diets. Whatever yours happens to be, you should not feel alone. The thing to remember is that your special needs diet is your responsibility, not anyone else’s. So while you are not alone, you are responsible for what you can and cannot eat. Managing it can feel like a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you get through it.

Cook Your Own Food

Going out to eat is overrated. If you have food allergies, it can also be dangerous. If you do go out, be sure to call ahead and see if they have special menu items that fit your dietary needs. If they do, feel free to ask more questions. You can even ask to speak to the chef.

If you do your own cooking, you can avoid that conversation altogether. When preparing your own food, you can get special needs ingredients including things like gluten-free flour. You are not limited to buying pre-made dishes from an expensive service. The best and safest way to handle diets is to know exactly what went into every bite.

When you visit with friends, you can bring your own food and snacks. Your true friends will understand. Those that don’t, aren’t your true friends anyway. You can also save up some of your splurge points for those special occasions. Even diabetics can have a small piece of birthday cake on rare occasions.

Consider Health Guidelines

The science of diet and health is ever-changing and evolving. It is hard to know what is okay to feed your kids sometimes. Don’t go it alone. Check the USDA guidelines for the latest research and recommendations.

You can’t just base your nutritional knowledge on what you learned in second grade about the four food groups. That is not going to serve you well today. You can’t even go off of what you looked up on some website two years ago. Even your doctor has to update their knowledge and recommendations.

If your kids are not placed on a dietary regimen by a doctor, be slow to place them on one of your own makings. Of course, there are reasonable limits. If you have a peanut allergy, don’t let any peanuts into the house. That can be a matter of life and death. But don’t let your 1,000 calorie diet be their prison. Active kids in a growth spurt can use more calories than sedentary adults. When deciding what to feed your family, look to neutral information like the USDA guidelines and not just your dietary needs and preferences.

Look into Specialized Meal Kit Services

There is nothing wrong with meal kit delivery services. If you have a special-needs diet, you might feel left out of the craze. You don’t have to feel that way. There are many healthy meal kit delivery services out there. You will find services that are devoted to specific types of special diets. Many of those services will have options like gluten-free and allergy-sensitive needs. If you don’t have time to source special ingredients and do all the cooking, healthy meal kits are a good, if not expensive alternative.

Don’t feel bad if you are stuck on a diet that no one else in your social group is on. You can actually go online and find groups in your area with the same dietary needs as you. For the rest, make life a little easier by purchasing ingredients made for your dietary needs. Keep up with the latest health guidelines. And look into a specialized meal kit service.

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    I’M REBECCA ALSTON!

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