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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Special Diets

Frugal Kitchens 101

There are two major categories of special diets - medically recommended and self-imposed.  The first involves diet modification to control or improve a specific health condition or to prevent an adverse reaction (eg. allergy, food sensitivity).  The second category ranges from caloric intake, purposely trying to lose weight, and eating disorders.  I personally do not and never have believed in dieting fir weight control.  If you eat a balanced diet free of or avoiding extra sugar, fat, salt, and food additives in combination with portion control AND moderate physical activity there should never be a reason for dietary control under the second category.  From time to time it may be necessary to follow a medically recommended diet as a result of hereditary or specific health condition.  Currently my husband is following the recommended diet for impaired glucose intolerance (medically supervised) while I am following the diet recommended for my blood type (experimental with medical approval).  In both cases the dietary changes are not drastic but they are altering the way we are eating hence affecting our food budget.  Now in reality any diet that restricts any food or reduces portion size is going to save money unless it involves special foods.  In general eating extra fruits and vegetables according to the recent stats will cost you about $350 extra per year BUT there are a lot of ways to offset this cost.  When following a special diet:

  • education - This goes without saying but you really do need to educate yourself, your condition and why you have been recommended to go on a special diet.  Go to a dietician if necessary.  Your doctor can arrange that for you and I do highly recommend it.  This is a free service available through health care in Canada.  They will meet with you as often as possible and even give you free menu guidelines and recipes.  Follow Health Canada's Food Guide and print off a copy to hang on in your kitchen as a reminder.  I particularly like the new plate model they are using!  It's easy to understand and follow.  Following Canada's Food Guide as part of a healthy diet can actually save you money on your food budget. 
  • avoidance - There are foods that should be avoided even in a normal diet including excess sugar, salt, preservatives, additives and artificial anything.  Some individuals need to take it a step further by avoiding a certain food or ingredient entirely.  Read the label!  In my opinion though there are certain foods manufactured specifically for caloric control control that should be avoided.  It is better to use a little butter (natural) than margarine (manufactured).  It is better to use less organic sugar, honey, or molasses or substitute the herb stevia for sweeting rather than use expensive artificial sweeteners.  I personally would avoid any product with the word diet on the label because these products use asparatame a known neurotoxin and suspected carcinogen/hepatocytic agent.  I would avoid any product that has no fat on the label because the human body needs a certain amount of fat to function properly.  The manufacturers are smart in that they know the current buzz word or phrase to use on the packaging so avoid the buzzes.  All of the buzz products tend to be heavily processed as well so avoiding them saves you money as well.
  • dietary supplementation - This includes vitamins, enzymes and herbal products.  Using dietary supplementation may be recommended by your doctor or a personal choice.  They can be costly. For that reason use them only if necessary.   A word to the wise, get advice with dietary supplementation.  Read the scientific literature, talk to your doctor and/or dietician AND listen to your body.
  • special dietary products - Some special dietary products such as gluten free flours and gluten free thickeners can be bought in bulk at the bulk food stores,  specialty food stores (eg. health food stores).
  • infant formula and meal replacement drinks - These can be expensive but do go on sale from time to time.  If you or a family member needs to use infant formula or meal replacement drinks, contact the manufacturer for free samples and coupons to help lessen the cost of these products.  Your dietician may be able to direct you to programs available to help save on the costs of these products as well.
  • whole foods - In most cases any special diet can easily take advantage of whole foods (eg. fruits, vegetables, flours, etc) so the same applies as it does for normal grocery shopping.  Shop the perimeter of the store, avoid processed foods, shop the sales.

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