Nowadays, it is a norm for a busy restaurant to have no less than 5 guests with restricted diet schedules, would it be an allergy, a food intolerance or a special diet that they try to keep up with. If 2 or 3 years ago, this trend was just emerging, today, it is what the market demands and expects from the Chefs – to be able to adapt and provide options.
I myself am living in a vegan household and know exactly just how difficult it can get trying to find suitable options for dining out. However, for this blog, I decided to try the Kcal Counting diet, as I am a forward-looking person, and the bikini season of summer 2019 is not that far ahead… In addition to that, I had also adapted a diet that is suitable for people with peanut allergy.
My plan to approach this task of keeping up with 2 diet restrictions, was fairly simple. I am a certified nutritionist and know the basics of food nutrition and kcal count, but just to make my life easier and be more accountable, I’ve decided to make a research on the best mobile app that will count the calories for me. I’ve chosen MyFitnessPal app, it’s free version. All I needed to do was to input the food that I ate that day and its weight, and the app would count the kcal consumed, the kcal lost during exercise and the kcal remaining until my daily goal of 1200 kcal. The down side of using this app was that it contains the database of all the processed foods in North America, but when it comes to wholefoods, it was not that easy to find, so I had to look for most likely alternatives.
Since I am trying to eat heathy anyway, I did not need to adopt any new recipes to my diet, I just needed to restrict the portion size. That, at the beginning, required quite a bit of will power. During my first week I was feeling hungry all the time (I actually did 2 weeks of this diet, but here I am showing just the last one). Second week was so much easier, the hunger went away and by the end of 2nd week, I didn’t even want to eat at all, by the dinner time, sometimes. The only thing that I had to substitute in my diet was the snacks. Sometimes, during a busy college day, I used to snack on some biscuits and drink lots of coffee. While during the past 2 weeks, I had decided to eliminate the coffee to a minimum, and eating apples instead of biscuits at school during the times of hunger.
The quick summary of my last 6 days of dieting is below.
You can also find the recipe for my Baked Aubergine here.
For the peanut allergy, I did not do anything special. I do not generally consume lots of peanuts anyway. I only add some glazed peanuts sometimes to my breakfast cereal, so I just substituted them with glazed almonds. Of course, people with real peanut allergy live a much harder life, depending on the severity of it… If their allergy extends just to the point of oral consumption of the allergen, then, they can adapt the same diet as I did, but need to be super careful reading the labels and when going to restaurants need to ensure there was no cross contamination. However, if the person is allergic even to the smell of peanuts, then I cannot imagine him/her going to any restaurants really… taking from the experience of working in the industry – restaurants are not 100% allergy careful. It would be indeed extremely hard to live with such a diet. In order to dine out, one would need to study the whole menu and ensure that there are no dishes with peanuts at all, in order to be safe to visit the establishment.
As a Chef, in order to provide options for people with KCal Count diets, I would need to offer half-portion options on the menu. Hopefully, I would never cook any unhealthy dishes full of saturated fats… As for the peanut allergy, I would just need to eliminate this food allergen from the menu altogether. Having a long managing experience, I know that even if I try to provide for all the cross-contamination possibilities, there is always a human factor, and I could never 100% guarantee an absence of any cross contamination. Human life is more important than a possibility to offer a single specific ingredient on the menu. Our food choices are plentiful nowadays, and as Chefs, being creative and knowledgeable, we can afford to eliminating 1 or 2 ingredients.
As for the future, I would definitely maintain the kcal count diet. I surely felt healthier, and lighter by keeping this diet. Plus, it was not that hard to maintain once my organism had adopted to it in 2 weeks. However, if the goal is to lose weight, eating healthy will bring you only 40% of results. It is vital to also exercise, in order to see the desirable results.