The Good Things About Having Dietary Requirements
I know, this post title sounds bizarre. How can being told that you can't eat gluten, dairy, onion, nuts, or anything else be a good thing? Well the short answer is it's not, but every cloud has a silver lining, and there are certain positives that come with dietary requirements.
1. You're part of a community
Since discovering I was gluten intolerant 4 years ago, I've been amazed by the huge supportive community of people with allergies and intolerances. Social media is full of accounts dedicated to helping people with dietary requirements, and more and more restaurants dedicated to catering for us are popping up. There's also that little buzz of friendship and comradery you get when you spot a new pal in the 'free from' section of the supermarket.
2. Your friends let you pick the restaurant
No one wants to navigate the dietary requirements sections of restaurant websites unless it actually affects them, which is great for you because it means your friends let you pick where to eat! This is particularly great if, like me, you always have a long list of free-from spots you want to try.
3. You actually think about what you're eating
Having dietary requirements limits you, but it also means you have to read the ingredients on what you buy and think about your meals in advance. Whilst it can be annoying, this is really beneficial in cutting bad habits and looking at what you put in your body. I lost quite a bit of weight when I stopped eating gluten, not because gluten free food is healthier (it's not, fyi), but simply because I was thinking about what I ate.
4. It encourages you to experiment with cooking
Whether it's adapting a recipe to suit your needs, or creating a whole new meal, having dietary requirements is likely to mean that you have to experiment to make meals suitable for your needs. Can't find gluten free cannelloni? Roll up a gluten free lasagna sheet! Curry with no onions or garlic? Peppers and spices it is!
5. Food (that you can eat) is way more exciting
People with no dietary requirements will never feel the rush from eating your first doughnut in three years, the elation that comes with discovering your pizza tastes like actual pizza, or the sheer joy of a loaf of bread with no holes.
6. You have less choice in a restaurant
"What?" I hear you say. Well bear with me. Yes, on the face of it having less choice is obviously a bad thing. But if like me you're one of the most indecisive people in the world, it actually makes your life a lot easier! Rather than constantly having to ask the waiting staff for 5 more minutes, I'm ready to make that all important decision of what to eat much quicker. It also means you're more likely to try things you otherwise wouldn't because it's your only option.
7. You're always prepared
Grab something on the go? I think not! You're always thinking about your next meal, and the one after that, and next week's meals too for that matter. This level of preparation can translate into other aspects of your life too, making you the king or queen of organisation.
8. You're unique
Who wants to be able to eat all the normal food anyway, am I right!? Probably not, but anything that makes you different is something to be celebrated as far as I'm concerned. If you didn't have dietary requirements then none of the other benefits in this list would apply to you either, and you wouldn't be so in tune with your body's needs.
So it turns out having dietary requirements isn't all bad, why not make the most of it.