Cooking for family and friends can mean having to adjust your choice of ingredients or cooking methods for special dietary requirements. Whether for health or spiritual reasons, many people choose to exclude certain foods from their diet and this can often make menu choices difficult and restrictive. Thankfully, there are many food options available with the help of some research so you needn’t feel apprehensive about cooking for someone with a dietary need. Here are some common special dietary requirements:
Diabetic – special requirements for people with diabetes will predominantly involve the amount of sugar in their food. A diabetic diet should ideally be low in sugar and refined carbohydrates but high in fibre. A diabetic must keep a close watch on their blood-sugar levels to avoid the risk of a hypo or hyperglycaemic reaction. For a wide range of diabetic food recipes, visit Food-Tales
Gluten-Free – this is a diet which seeks to eliminate the protein gluten which is found in products containing rye, wheat and barley. It is primarily followed by those suffering from wheat allergy, coeliac disease and gluten ataxia. Gluten proteins have little nutritional value and are not vital to the human diet, however excluding it completely can lead to a decrease in the absorption of other nutrients so choosing gluten-free products which are enriched or fortified is beneficial.
Vegetarian – a very common diet is that which excludes meat. There are many sub-categories that fall under the heading of vegetarianism and some of these are:
Fruitarian – a diet mostly made up of raw fruit.
Lacto-Vegetarian – excludes meat and eggs but includes some dairy produce.
Ovo-Vegetarian – a diet which excludes meat and dairy but includes eggs.
Pescatarian – a vegetarian diet but one which includes the eating of seafood.
Vegan – as well as excluding meat, a vegan diet excludes any product originating from animals. A vegan would not eat honey, milk or eggs for example. As well as a philosophy covering food, a vegan will also not use any cosmetics or other products that have been made from or tested on animals.
Paleo – this is a diet that has gained in popularity in recent years and follows the principles that we should only eat food that would have been available to our caveman ancestors. The diet includes fruit, nuts, vegetables and meat but excludes dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, salt, alcohol and coffee. There are arguments for and against the health benefits of following such a restrictive diet.
Food Allergies – cooking for others means you must take this very seriously. Food allergies can make people very poorly, even resulting in death in extreme cases. Most common allergies include shellfish, peanuts, eggs, milk and fish. A food allergy is an adverse response from a person’s immune system towards a particular food protein. Even small amounts of the food can trigger varying levels of adverse reaction. Food labelling must, by law, instruct if any of the production process involved contact with nuts, shellfish, dairy or other known allergens.