How to keep balance with a restrictive diet?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Allergies, intolerances, chronic illnesses, digestive or intestinal problems, there is no shortage of reasons to remove certain foods from your diet. When these causes accumulate, it sometimes even happens that these restrictions become very significant. Eating then becomes a real headache which can lead to deserting the kitchen or always eating the same thing. How can you live these transformations in your diet on a daily basis while preserving your health and your figure, but also sociability and the pleasure of eating?

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Do I know why I stopped eating this?

To begin, it is important to precisely define the framework of your dietary restrictions so that they correspond to your current needs.

You were able, in fact, through consultations or various readings, to eliminate certain foods and to have maintained this diet without having updated this restriction. In conjunction with your doctor and/or food specialist, you will benefit from taking the time to understand why a food is not recommended for you and in what form.

What also matters is knowing which part or molecule of the food is involved. This can be the proteins in a food (often responsible for allergies), but also certain fibers that are too hard for your fragile intestines, a sugar that you have difficulty digesting, types of cooking in fat which will cause painful gastric reflux…

The answers (enzyme intake, specific cooking, etc.) are not the same depending on what is in question and do not necessarily imply a total exclusion of the food.


I’m eating less but gaining weight?

Weight gain quite frequently accompanies a restrictive diet.

Firstly because the frustration it causes sometimes leads to a logic of compensation: I eat more sugary products because I can’t do the rest. This may be the case, for example, for people who limit their gluten consumption. Here weight gain may be a consequence of the increase in cereals with a high glycemic index such as corn derivatives. These same derivatives are also very present in industrial gluten-free products, often also characterized by their high sugar content.

The other factor is the reduction in fiber intake, particularly in cases of intestinal sensitivity. Fiber regulates hunger and blood sugar intake. When they are reduced, the chances of hyperglycemia increase, as well as the storage logic (transformation of sugar into fat) at the time of the insulin reaction.

Finally, an imbalance in food intake also contributes to weight gain. Significantly, deficiencies in quality fats and proteins are also impacting factors. If you lose your usual benchmarks and no longer know how to meet your needs, your diet will become disrupted and you will have a tendency to gain weight. The solutions are then to be found in a diet that does not produce deficiencies, in paying attention to fiber and in the search for a new, enjoyable diet.

And then the pleasure of eating?

Maintaining a pleasant diet is one of the pillars of a balanced diet. When certain ingredients disappear from your cupboards, your partners are paying attention to the meaning and looking for alternatives.

You are no longer entitled to eggs, wheat flour or yeasts used by industry (containing phosphates for example), there is often a solution to replace these ingredients. Technical tips that can be found by gleaning from the internet but also by asking the question of the function of the ingredient in the recipe: is it a binder, something which gives crunch, which produces a foam, which gives a creamy side?

From a given recipe, modify the element while keeping the proportions and then adapting according to the result. The idea is to gradually acquire this logic of mind by visualizing the recipes and asking the right questions: start with the question of texture and hold then look for what you can add to give a good taste .

For the taste, keep in mind that it is the balance between the five flavors that makes a dish structured and pleasing to us: sour, bitter, sweet, salty and the famous umami defined by the Japanese. When you feel that something is “missing”, focus your attention on these five elements to find taste balance: is there a missing hint of acidity, bitterness, sugar, etc.

You will thus be able to create your favorite and very personalized recipes. They will be very useful, especially during moments of sharing and conviviality, so as not to feel like you are depriving yourself. What matters then is to maintain this pleasure diet once or twice a week, which will be all the more effective if you eat slowly and pay attention to all your senses; moments that will help you accept constraints the rest of the time.

Cooking yourself

Keep the slimming fiber

On a daily basis, another partner in weight regulation is fiber. Certain intolerances or hypersensitivities mean eliminating many foods rich in fiber, particularly insoluble fiber which can be aggressive for the intestinal mucosa. It can then be useful to make a list of foods rich in soft and soluble fiber that suit you and to make sure you consume them every day: zucchini, endive, lettuce, lamb’s lettuce, various salads, baby spinach, cooked carrot, mushroom, eggplant without skin.

Some sprouted seeds may also be well tolerated. Fruits without the skin, raw or cooked, can also supplement this intake once or twice a day. In terms of preparation, gentle cooking, steaming for example, or the use of a juice extractor are also interesting options. Finally, for certain seeds, cereal flakes or flour, soaking (12 to 48 hours) is also a good way to increase tolerance.

To maintain balance on the plate and on the scale, you should also pay attention to your intake of quality proteins and fats. Indeed, they have a strong effect on satiety and it is important to provide them in a way adapted to your needs from the start of the day to avoid cravings.

A nutrition professional will then be able to give you guidelines: quantity, source, ideal method of preparation, etc. This contact can help you in more than one way because what is fundamental in the context of a restrictive diet is to go out of isolation.

Health professionals, therapeutic education sessions but also patient associations and forums will help you avoid the social disruption that a significant change in the way you eat very often causes.

Being well surrounded, being able to exchange recipes and experiences with people who have the same questions as you is a good way to improve your relationship with food and not make it an obsession.