Restriction is the act of limiting or regulating an individual’s dietary intake. The reasons why people undertake food restrictions range from health grounds, religious practices, and ideological beliefs to certain food allergies or food sensitivities. We may categorise food restrictions under two heads- Health Restrictions and Religious Restrictions
A. Health Reasons
A restriction is set with the aim of keeping certain important physiological parameters within specified boundaries. For instance, these parameters could be-
· Blood glucose levels for Diabetics or persons with abnormal glucose tolerance
· Cholesterol levels monitored through fat and cholesterol intake for persons with an abnormal lipid profile
· Blood pressure levels for persons with Hypertension
This is an attempt to ensure that the person’s health does not deteriorate further by excessive intake of particular macronutrients (like carbohydrates and fats or sometimes even proteins) and micronutrients (like sodium). In certain health conditions fluid intake may also be restricted.
Although it may not be possible to completely cure a disease condition by way of diet alone, it cannot be argued that diet does play a central role in improving the health situation to considerable extent.
B. Food Allergies or Intolerances
These restrictions apart, there are also certain other restrictions which could arise from food allergies or intolerances. Two principal food allergies that call for food restrictions include -
Gluten is a protein prevalent in all kinds of wheat (including semolina, durum and spelt), barley, rye and oats. When persons with celiac disease eat gluten, the absorptive villi of the small intestines get damaged, thereby preventing the absorption of so many vital nutrients. Long-term effects of untreated celiac disease could be life threatening.
However, it is possible, by following a completely gluten-free diet, to heal the intestinal lining completely. Most patients lead a normal, healthy life as long as they remain away from gluten in their diet. Even small amounts of gluten could cause symptoms to reappear.
Milk Allergies and Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is defined as the inability to properly digest lactose or milk sugar. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal cramping, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhoea following the intake of foods containing dairy products.
Milk protein allergy is basically an allergic reaction to proteins that commonly occur in cows milk. It is brought about by the immune system reacting to the milk protein. Common symptoms of allergy are skin rashes and vomiting among others.
Include the avoidance of any dairy product be it milk, butter, cheese, cream and milk powders and some margarines. Rice milk, almond milk; Soy milk and tofu are excellent substitutes.
These are based on numerous Religious and Cultural Practices that have been prevalent since ancient times. These are the food restrictions that individuals set for themselves owing to religious and cultural influences. For instance-
· Muslims as well as Hindus observe fasts on occasions like Ramzan and Shivrathri.
· Vegans are strict vegetarians who do not even consume milk since it is an animal product. In fact, their eating habits are governed by strict Jewish laws.