It’s grim. A medical diet is hard for everyone, but for those of us who adore food it’s a sad time. Foodies don’t stuff themselves indiscriminately with processed junk. We’re always on a search for mind-blowing tastes, new cuisines, restaurants, recipes, ingredients. Food is joy. When that’s taken away from you because for whatever reason you are unwell, it feels like a deprivation of a big part of your life. At the moment I stand outside restaurants reading menus with tears in my eyes. Instead of enjoying watching the Great British Bake Off final, I sunk into depression.
I think the reason foodies find it harder and even impossible to diet for weight loss is because of the imposition of soulless regimes. Because of my interest in health I’ve been able to balance my eating so weight hasn’t been an issue for me (I’m also hyper active and love exercise and dance which obviously helps). When a medical issue appears foodies are faced with a choice: suffer to get well or suffer whilst unwell. And I have to admit at the moment I am feeling maybe I’d rather the latter. I don’t have a terminal disease so what the hell, maybe for the love of food I’ll put up with the consequences because I’m depressed and miserable now anyway.
This is where I have to remind myself: I just need to get past this sticky part. After a month on a preparation diet I’m on day 15 of a 30 day hard core programme. I hate it. However, here are some of the positive aspects emerging from this life stage. I hope these can help you.
You take a major decision about the near future
Anything medical forces you to confront how you live your life. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming yourself. You need a reward for the gargantuan step of getting better. So do it. Use the diet period to make that plan, act on it and set the dates to do it. Live it, don’t buy (a material) it.
You acquire a get-out clause for social events you don’t like
How do you say to certain friends or colleagues you don’t want to spend all night in a pub, you don’t drink much, pubs are too noisy, the food is rubbish and you get bored? No one can argue with ‘I’ve got a health issue and have to follow a special diet.’ Suddenly you’re liberated.
You discover who is truly supportive in your network
Any change shakes up the dynamics in all your relationships. You’re not the same you. Three camps emerge. Camp 1 is negative and wants to derail you, camp 2 is me-me-me and isn’t remotely interested in how you feel, and camp 3 wants to support you and cheer you on.
You see cafes and restaurants in a different light
That chain you dismissed might turn out to have great options for you. That cafe you loved might now seem out of date. Some restaurants will be happy to accommodate you and pride themselves on doing so, whilst others will be blunt about ‘that’s how it comes’.
You enjoy every nano-second of your one treat
There will (there must) be at least something you look forward to every day and you’ll enjoy that something even more. You’ll drink that one cup of coffee slowly, and in a mindful way. You’ll eat that one piece of fruit with total concentration and joy. And in the process you’ll slow down too.
You discover a world of new information
Approach a diet for medical reasons as an opportunity to learn about health, and you’ll be re-engaged with life. When your interest in the body is ignited, that’s you resolving to be well and happy. (Be sure to read quality information. Forums can be helpful but they are very depressing too.)
You discover the power of rest
Rest is the most underrated word and concept in our modern life. A diet to cure a medical condition is holistic and rest is part of the process. The body’s internal organs and systems need to clear out and update. We’re not machines yet we treat our machines with more care. Charge up with rest.