1. Health

New Year’s Resolution: Stick to Your Food Allergy Diet

By January 4, 2011

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There are allergies that motivate you to avoid your trigger food. Having once been covered in hives after eating melon, it is not so hard to stop yourself from reaching for the fruit salad. And then there are allergies or intolerances that have milder or more delayed reactions, which can require more willpower.

As someone who is lactose intolerant, I well know the temptation of just one piece of pizza... OK, maybe two. I know I'll pay for it later, but in the moment, that pizza smells so good. And because the symptoms are uncomfortable but not life-threatening, I get away with cheating on my dairy-free diet - or at least it seems that way.

Researchers who study celiac disease know if you are gluten intolerant and continue to eat gluten, your intestines suffer lasting physical damage. There is less research on the long term effects of eating dairy for the lactose intolerant, but we do know that chronic diarrhea can rob your body of needed nutrients and lead to dehydration.

You are much more likely to stick to your resolution of sticking to your diet if you set the stage. Here are five quick tips that will help your resolution last:

  1. Clean out your pantry. Donate those lingering boxes of peanut butter granola bars or wheat-based pasta to the food bank. Toss that ice cream.
  2. Go shopping. Re-stock your kitchen with safe foods that you love. It is much easier to stick to your diet if you don't feel deprived. I find that having lots of fresh fruit around makes it easy to grab a healthy snack. (Or course, only buy fruit that is safe for you.)
  3. Carry snacks with you. If everyone else in the office is eating cupcakes, it helps to have a stash of gluten-free snacks on hand so you can join in the birthday celebration.
  4. Choose restaurants that have food you can - and want to - eat. If you know friends are planning a dinner out together, vote for a restaurant that you know is safe. Don't torture yourself by going out for pizza with friends and ordering a salad when what you really want is pizza. Just suggest this great new Thai place you found, and explain why you want to go there.
  5. Satisfy your cravings. Find substitutes for the foods you are avoiding that satisfy your craving for them. One of the hard parts of beginning a dairy-free diet is the sudden drop in your fat consumption. If you are craving cheese, try sliced avocado on your sandwich. The healthy fats will put the brakes on your craving.

This post is part of the About.com New Year's Resolutions blog carnival.

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