Dietary concerns are paramount when I prepare meals for our family get-togethers. There are only four of us, and all four of us are on separate diets. As I’m the only cook amongst us, it means I have to pay a lot of attention to diets.
Weight Loss: This is one of the areas I have to pay attention to. Moderating calories, choosing carbohydrates properly, etc. are necessary due to being overweight. That’s not easy to do, considering two of the other diets I need to prepare food for.
Severe Kidney Disease: One family member has serious kidney problems. This means that I have to make sure there are low protein dishes. I also have to either leech or avoid certain fruits and vegetables to lower the potassium and phosphate levels. This relative needs to gain weight, so some of the foods have to be high calorie.
Heart Disease: One of us has heart problems and two others are at risk. Thankfully, a lot of the weight loss items fit into a healthy diet for heart disease. In addition to calories, here the type of fats used, cholesterol levels and sodium concerns must also take center stage.
Vegetarian: This is a hard one to work with. This relative doesn’t want to consume any animal products, including milk and cheese. That means an increase in vegetable matter, which brings us back to the kidney diet. Many vegetables are hard on the kidneys.
Gout: Two out of four of us have had gout flare ups. This is an extremely painful condition, and food choices play a big role. Foods that contain protein has purine. This breaks down and uric acid is the waste product. If the kidneys can’t filter it out for whatever reason, it forms crystals. This includes all animal products and quite a few vegetables.
As you can see, cooking for the family requires a delicate balance. It takes a lot of time on the computer to come up with dishes that everyone can eat as well as one or two for each specific diet. There are also techniques that can help make things safer for everyone. Here are a few:
Leaching: Soaking vegetables in water for a few hours can remove a lot of the potassium from them. All five diets can then safely consume them.
Cooking methods: There are safe methods of cooking. Boiling, braising, baking, grilling and steaming usually don’t add a lot of fat. They may actually reduce the fat found naturally in the food being prepared.
Dressing: Instead of using a high calorie dip or salad dressing, try making some vinaigrette. Our family loves aged balsamic vinaigrette with olive oil. It’s a heart friendly way to serve vegetables.