Minor Kitchen Woes: Living with and Loving Those on Restricted Diets

Not to be dramatic, but life in this kitchen has been a little rough the last few days. I am fine and everything is fine but I’ve had to eat a restricted diet since a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday afternoon while I’m having some routine tests done. And with my love of cooking and my plans for blogging from my kitchen every day this month, eating a banana and an egg for breakfast (I’m not actually sure that egg is allowed) and eating plain rice, baked chicken, and steamed veggies for lunch and dinner for three days straight is starting to break my foodie heart.

Meal of Champions.  Sometimes I even change out the broccoli for green beans.

Meal of Champions. Sometimes I even change out the broccoli for green beans.

I’ve always known that it was hard for gluten-free or dairy-free or nut-free families to adjust, but this week I have developed mad respect for the people in my life who have to abstain from fun things like cupcakes and cookies and ice cream and – oh my – cheese. And while my restricted diet should only be a temporary thing, it’s actually really hard to be out running errands and not be able to purchase a snack. And I’m, like, 28 and ¾ years old, not 7. I can’t imagine being a mom constantly telling a 7-year-old why everyone gets a snickers bar EXCEPT FOR YOU.

Our weekends usually include trying a fun new restaurant or grabbing tacos at a new-to-us taco place (we really love tacos), so this first weekend where new or exotic food can’t be one of our activities is a pretty big shock. We went to the movies last night, but ate our own meals individually first.

I think it must get easier with time. (Any restricted dieters out there who can confirm?) I’m trying to think ahead to handle my restricted diet while I’m on work travel next week, which will be challenging but is really just a minor inconvenience in the scope of real problems.

I still have lots of fun kitchen –themed content coming your way, so do not despair! This is just a tiny, hopefully temporary change-up.


If you or someone you love lives life with a restricted diet, would you post any good resources or tips for coping that keep life fun? I’m suddenly remembering a lot of tips I’ve read on gluten-free or vegan-friendly food blogs and even some lifestyle-blogs, which I’ll add on below as I find them. I’m sure there are a lot of us who would appreciate them.

  • Jamie Oliver has a “Special Diets” recipe library with a library of recipes for Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Vegetarian dishes.
  • Tips for Gluten-Free Birthday Parties from Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery.
  • I also enjoyed this essay from a Kitchn Contributor about her transition into a restricted diet.
  • Oh, and PINTEREST is a huge resource here.  I found this blog and tons of awesome resources there.  (Frankly I’m not sure why I didn’t just start on Pinterest…)


This post is number 25 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.



  1. Lindsay Lea

    You can do it! I’ve been gluten free for 3 years now, but I remember thinking my life was over during those first few weeks. It helps having the support of family and friends- if they don’t bring it into the house, you are less likely to be tempted. Also, be sure you have diet-appropriate snacks on hand (individual bags of carrots, cut up fruit, etc.) at all times, otherwise you will find yourself in a situation where you are hangry and end up eating something you regret. Once you are able to add a few things back into your diet, you will find that it’s actually fun to come up with new recipes. Good luck!

    • Mary Beth

      Thanks! Snacks are the hardest part right now. I’m not allowed any raw veggies for a few more days, but rice chex has been getting me through the rough patches. And I think you guys are right about not trying to recreate recipes — it’s setting yourself up for disappointment.

  2. Sarah Jo Burch

    #1 tip for coping – don’t see yourself as deprived. There are lots of things that naturally don’t have gluten in them that you can still eat (and the same applies to dairy – although, I have to admit that avocados on tacos and mayo on sandwiches has yet to satisfy my cravings for cheese)! And I wholly agree with Lindsey on packing snacks – so important! When we went gf, we tried to just find gf versions of everything that we already ate – not a good idea, since going straight from Pizza Hut to an Udi’s frozen pizza is a horrible comparison. It takes a little while for your tastes to change, but they will!

  3. Julie Varner

    I loved this! One of our spark plugs was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease last year. So, not only are we now gluten-free, I also can’t use most gluten free recipes because they almost always have too much starch in them. Rice flour may be gluten free, but it’s a diabetic nightmare where blood sugar is concerned. It has been a HARD road, and we still struggle and make mistakes on a daily basis. But you’re right: it does get easier with time, and we’ve found everyone around us to be very supportive and understanding. There really has been no better time in history to be on a special-needs diet! Praying that you get through this with flying colors and that it will be, indeed, temporary for you!

  4. Ali

    I feel your pain. I’m on the auto-immune everything free diet. Argghhh…..but I’m still alive and will conquer this dis-ease mainly through diet. My biggest problem is my instant gratification button which still beeps loud and clear far too often and I haven’t yet found the way to switch it off – instantly. We’ll get there from here. There are lots of posts in my 31 day series on diet http://probablyinpurple.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/go-green/. Hope you soon find WWFY. (What works for you)

    • Mary Beth

      Yes — instant gratification is the worst! I just want to eat right now except there’s nothing I’m allowed to have that is readily available. What an adjustment!

  5. Grace Johnson

    hard to stick to any restrictions at first, easier with time/you break habits, and create new ones… when you can go back to normal you definitely appreciate it a whole lot. I can only imagine how hard it would have been if I’d been put on the full scale ketogenic diet. Weighing food to the specific allowances, extremely few, or no carbohydrates, pureed stuff all the time; I don’t think it’s something I could have adjusted to as an adult. (it’s not the kind of seizure treatment they use for adults… only when it can be started at an early age, be the only way the person’s ever really known to eat)

  6. Nikki Ringenberg

    My husband had some unfortunate food allergies suddenly pop up, then leave three years later. He had an anaphylactic reaction to tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, strawberries, melon, cherries, and peaches (peaches is the only thing that was around before, or is still an issue). Garlic is in EVERYTHING! So, I learned to make more things from scratch. There were times when he packed a pb & j to an engagement party (Italian food was served) because we were to be there early and late as we were both in the wedding party. There were also days when I was trying to meal plan and he was being a jerk and said he wanted pizza. His attitude did lead us to find the one Alfredo sauce in the local grocery without garlic and made white chicken pizza. We also discovered white lasagna and smashed cauliflower this way. He learned to ask more questions at restaurants, to assert himself with his family (who said he wasn’t really allergic and tried to get him to eat these things, even sneaking garlic in dishes and swearing it wasn’t there), and to plan ahead. It was a struggle, but we made it through and you will to!

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