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How to stick with an elimination diet over Christmas

By Katie Sheen of Soul Nutrition
Mindfulness and Mindful Eating Practitioner

Focus On What You Can Eat

Try to think of your exclusion diet as an inclusion diet: it’s about including so many foods that support you that there’s no room left for foods that don’t make you feel wonderful!

A great way to do this is to find a large piece of paper and divide it into areas to represent the major food groups that you use to put together your favourite meal combinations. Then in each area write the names of everything you can eat in that category.  So if you avoid gluten, put all the non-gluten grains and any alternatives you may use (for example, grated cauliflower fried to be like rice) into the starchy carbs section. This gives you a visual representation of all the choices available to you, highlighting where you have preferences rather than a medical reason to eliminate a type of food and where perhaps you need to find a few more foods to enjoy!

Be Open Minded

If you become aware that you are eliminating foods because you don’t like them rather than because they cause you medical issues, it is worth looking at why you are rejecting them.  Might a new recipe mean that the food tastes better, and you can learn to like it in order to enjoy a more varied diet, with all the extra nutrients and interest that it brings to your life?  This will also make it easier to stick to your supportive foods, by making these food choices more interesting.

 There are so many great websites online that if you search out and explore new recipes, you may be able to continue to add more foods onto your diagram: and of course ordering something in a restaurant to share with other people is an excellent way to try new things just one or two mouthfuls at a time.

Communicate Clearly With Other People

If you are visiting other people, why not share your diagram with them as well?  It can be stressful for people who love and care for you when they have to cater for your elimination diet, as they may well be afraid of getting it wrong. This is especially likely at Christmas when they also have everyone else’s preferences to consider: so the more help that you can give them, the better! 

Some of their anxiety may be because they aren’t clear exactly what you can and can’t eat, so if you can give them a list full of positives rather than negatives, and perhaps some recipe ideas and an offer of help in the kitchen, it may be the best gift that you can give them, and in turn, give you more options that enable you to stick to your supportive foods.

Make It A Game For Everyone

Have you every discussed food preferences with your friends and family? You can learn a lot about people’s happy memories around food by encouraging everyone to put together a diagram like this: it can highlight where people have some very set ideas that are limiting their enjoyment of mealtimes.  So for example if you love sprouts but discover that somebody else hates them, can you cook them in a couple of different ways as a game to help change their mind?

Here are some ideas for positive discussions around food:

  1. What is the most beautiful location you have ever eaten food in?
  2. What is the most unusual meal you have ever eaten?
  3. Which food have you been most grateful to receive?
  4. What’s your favourite meal of all time?
  5. What are your happiest memories of food?

If you’d like to download a free app to inspire more positive conversations around other aspects of life that we usually take for granted, take a look at “Appreciating Windowsills” on the App store & Google Play

Some Resources To Help You On Your Way

If you’re struggling with anxiety around food and other areas of life, HelloSkin offers you a 50% discount on Katie’s ‘Mindfulness for Anxiety’ online course. This consists of multiple short videos that you can play, pause, rewind and revisit whenever you need them, plus other mindfulness based downloads and activities that build strong foundations for happiness.  For your free preview, simply click here to be taken to ‘Mindfulness for Anxiety’.


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