Being on a restricted diet doesn't mean that you automatically lose weight. It's quite possible (as I know from personal experience) to rely on prepackaged snacks like potato chips that are allergen-free, but not so great for the waistline. Here are 6 weight-loss tips for people with food allergies.
1. Choose the Right Diet Plan for You
There are so many diet plans out there - low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie - that it can be hard to choose. If you have food allergies, it is best to steer clear of diets that involve drinking mystery shakes or that restrict your food intake to one or two food groups. That means the grapefruit diet is out the door, but diets that involve eating reasonable portions of many different types of food are probably fine.
Think about your allergies when choosing a diet plan:
- If you have Oral Allergy Syndrome, in which your mouth tingles or swells after eating raw fruits or vegetables, raw food diets are not going to work for you.
- If you are allergic to many types of protein - for example, dairy, egg, soy, and nuts - then low-carb diets such as Atkins are not the best choice.
2. Consult a Nutritionist
If you are avoiding multiple allergens, it can become challenging for you to get all of the nutrients you need on a daily basis. Before starting a weight-loss plan, talk to a nutritionist about strategies for eating fewer calories while getting more nutrition.
A licensed nutritionist should have experience designing custom diets for people with food allergies. They can help you to choose a type of diet that will work with your allergy needs.
3. Focus on Whole Foods
The biggest diet-killers are restaurant and prepackaged foods that are loaded with more salt, sugar and calories than you would normally add at home. People who cook and eat at home tend to maintain their weight better than people who rely on restaurants or take-out. Those of us with food allergies have a head start on cooking at home; we just need to tweak our cooking a little bit for weight loss.
- Choose single-ingredient snacks. Instead of reaching for that allergy-free granola bar, try an apple or a handful of baby carrots instead.
- Use whole grains such as brown rice instead of white rice. Whole grains have more fiber and can help you feel full faster.
- Watch the fat. It's easy to pour a glug of oil into the pan before making a stir-fry. Measuring out just one tablespoon of oil can help you to rein in the calories of your favorite dishes.
4. Make Your Own "Packaged" Snacks
Make the easiest snack to grab when you're running out the door a healthy, low-calorie snack that fits your diet.
- Cut up veggies and place them in containers in the front of the fridge.
- Have a fruit bowl on your kitchen table.
- Make your own 100-calorie snacks. Small plastic bags of sunflower seeds or gluten-free pretzels can easily be tossed into a lunch box or purse.
5. Keep a Food Diary
You may already be keeping track of the foods you eat to get a handle on your allergies, but if not, keeping a food diary is a great way to lose weight. You can do this online, using a site like Calorie Count, or the old fashioned way with a notebook and pencil. Keeping track of what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat can help you identify emotional eating triggers and also prevent you from mindlessly munching.
6. Get a Little Help From Your Friends
Find a friend to join you in setting a weight-loss goal, or try one of the many online dieting programs that have chat rooms for social support.