• Chef Celeste Gustafson

Sticking with a Restricted Diet Means Finding Tasty Alternatives

I believe some of us are like canaries in a coal mine; the things that are harming everyone, affect us first and more strongly.

While it can be frustrating to feel like our bodies are at odds with our food culture or environment - and a “normal” diet just doesn’t work for us - we seek solutions to heal our bodies. We become pioneers in showing others how optimize their health (if they so choose), and find we are rewarded with having more energy, fewer preventable illnesses and a better quality of life overall.

Medications have never worked well for me; they have always caused me more distress due to side effects than the relief they provided (if any), so I have been motivated since a young age to heal myself with natural modalities ­- food, exercise, herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. Food is first on the list because we have an opportunity several times a day to affect our health with what we do and don’t put in our mouths!

I have struggled with a lot of health challenges over the years,­ things that many people in our modern society would consider minor and just pop a pill for ­- migraines, GI issues, fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, skin issues, mood challenges, etc.

Gluten has been a particular nemesis of mine, but I didn’t recognize it for much of my life. About 10 years ago I started having painful reflux (on top of lifelong GI issues), and I was pretty sure it was from either wheat or sugar because it would always occur after eating delicious croissants and pain au chocolat from an incredible local bakery where I lived in Vermont.

Even with that knowledge, it took me years to completely stop eating gluten for a couple reasons. One reason was that I love food. Eating food with rich and exciting flavors has always been a central pleasure that I look forward to and enjoy deeply. The other reason was that I had several sensitivities and I couldn’t pin down the culprit until I eliminated the right combination of foods to feel truly better.

Still, I am grateful for my own struggle and the journey to heal my body with whole, organic foods, because it has led me to helping so many others in the process.

I understand on a deeply personal level that people won’t be able to stick to a medically necessary diet unless they have wonderfully tasty and satisfying foods to fill in the holes left by the foods they need to avoid.

This is where I come in. Some personal chefs don’t like working with special diets, or have culinary limitations, such as not being able to bake without using grains or gluten. Not me! I understand there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet, and that in order to thrive on a diet with certain restrictions, it is imperative to find foods that are exciting, nourishing, and so dang yummy you can't wait until mealtime.

Sometimes eliminating certain ingredients from your diet can feel like a life sentence of kale smoothies and forest twigs, but with a little help, it doesn’t take long to find alternatives worth celebrating.

Helping my clients find alternative ingredients so they can still enjoy their favorite dishes is a special passion of mine. There is no need to eliminate comfort foods, but if they are not made with ingredients that leave you feeling your best, then they aren’t really that comforting after all.

Thanks to a lot of popular diets like the Paleo diet or Whole 30, there are more products available on the market now that are made from quality, organic ingredients and lack many of the preservatives and ingredients that most frequently have negative affects on health.

Whether you have a specific diagnosis you are looking to turn around, or have a food allergy that must be avoided at all costs, it is not only possible, but also really fun to create personalized menus that make eating a restricted diet a joy again.

So am I a hard-core Paleo advocate?

Yes…and…No. Paleo is a misunderstood fad, but is really just about eating good, whole food in as close to its natural form as possible - local, organic, seasonal produce, and animals who get to spend their lives outdoors eating a varied diet, which produces healthier animals, healthier land, and healthier meat and eggs. This way of eating automatically eliminates high sodium processed foods, gluten, sugar, grains and dairy, thus eating the way our ancestors did for thousands of years.

I feel like food culture has finally started to catch up to my personal belief system and sensibility, with the advent of the Farm to Table movement and the Paleo movement. I do NOT feel like Paleo is the cure-all for everyone, nor do I cook this way for all my clients. I honor that everyone has unique dietary needs and I tailor my menus specifically to meet individual needs.

Need a little help getting started?

In addition to my full-scale personal chef services, I offer consulting packages where I help you overhaul your pantry, shop, meal plan and learn to cook new recipes that taste good and make you feel amazing.

Share with us by reaching out in the comments box and let us know what dietary restrictions you face and any favorite recipes you’ve found to make eating fun!

#paleo #glutenfree #personalchef #menuconsulting


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Serving the Greater Austin Area since 2013

 contact@celestesnaturalkitchen.com   |  Tel: (512)686-8442

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