Gluten-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free, caffeine-free, carb-free, fat-free, meat-free, dairy-free – just the thought of trying to find food that falls under all of these categories makes me want to reach for the biggest cheeseburger I can find and follow it with a few highly processed cupcakes.
Trying to eat a healthy diet is hard. Not just because we’re genetically programmed to prefer the taste of food that isn’t great for us, but also because of the mounds of advice out there. If we followed it all, there would be pretty much nothing left. Except maybe vegetables, but vegetables alone do not make for a healthy diet either.
This was a problem I came across when I tried to refine my diet earlier this year. “I know” I thought, “I’ll cut out the 3 ‘worst’ food types and see if it makes a difference”. So I decided to cut out gluten, dairy and sugar, pleased that I would soon be my healthiest self yet.
It lasted all of a few days when I realised the only thing I could think of to eat was salad. Breakfast was the biggest struggle. Without toast, porridge, yoghurt, cereal or croissants, what breakfast food is left? Fruit it was – and that’s when I gave up on the whole idea and had a better one.
Like most people, I don’t need to cut out any of these foods for medical reasons, so there’s no reason to banish them to the forbidden food cupboard yet. Instead, I’ve been taking a new approach whereby I try to minimise the amount of these foods I consume.
Translated to real life, that means choosing (naturally gluten-free) rice over pasta, opting for soya milk when it’s available but making do with dairy milk if it’s not, and locking away the chocolate if I over indulged the previous day. I call it my almost-free diet: being conscious of the food I put in my mouth but not letting it rule my life.
And if I let myself slip one day, so what? Food is to be enjoyed, after all.
Do you follow any particular diet or avoid any particular food groups? We’d love to hear from you. Join in the conversation below and tweet us using the hashtag #almostfreediet