The 3 Types of Dietary Restrictions

“Please inform your server if you have any food allergies or special dietary restrictions”

You glance down at the bottom of your restaurant menu and notice it has this written in fine print:

“Please inform your server if you have any food allergies or special dietary restrictions”

Most people will just skim over it. I mean why wouldn’t you? Dietary restrictions are only for aspiring actors/actresses trying to achieve the perfect body, right? Wrong.

Turns out there’s way more to dietary restrictions than you’ve ever imagined. When we started on our quest to really understand dietary restrictions, we discovered that an unbelievable amount of people struggle with dietary restrictions everyday.

1 in 5 Americans has some sort of dietary restriction

Here’s what you need to know. There are 3 types of dietary restrictions: Those that involve a medical condition, those that revolve around a religion/belief, and those that are purely based on one’s lifestyle.

#1 Food Allergies/Diabetes

This class of dietary restrictions refers to the group of people that eat a certain way, because their life depends on it. Either they have a food allergy or some sort of medical condition which makes their bodies intolerant to certain foods. For this set of people, dining out is a nightmare. Even the slightest trace of an allergen in their food will cause an anaphylactic reaction.

According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), this sort of reaction sends someone to the ER every three minutes, resulting in more than 200,000 hospital visits and nearly 200 deaths.

You might wonder then…how do people with food allergies eat out at restaurants? And the most common answer is…they don’t.

Or if they do, it involves a tedious back and forth process between the waiter, the chef, and the “restrictee” to meticulously plan which foods he/she can eat.

Here’s a list of a few conditions that fall into this category of dietary restrictions:

  • Food Allergies
  • Gluten-intolerance/sensitivity (Celiac Disease)
  • Diabetes
  • Lactose Intolerance

#2 Religious Constraints

This class of dietary restrictions, while not pertinent to one’s health, is important to one’s beliefs. Diets such as Kosher or Halal are built on top of teaching from a religion — Whether that’s Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, or something else.

While Veganism does not stem from a religion, it does most closely resemble this class of dietary restrictions as it based out of a closely-held belief.

Here’s a list of dietary restrictions that fall under this category:

  • Kosher
  • Halal
  • Veganism
  • Jain
  • Vegetarianism

#3 Dietary Preferences

The last class of dietary restrictions includes people who eat a certain way to improve their physical health. Whether that’s to lose weight, gain muscle, or just to look good, this set of people form eating habits by choice rather than necessity.

Nevertheless, people who pick up a diet still feel like it’s very important to their way of life. Below, we’ve listed just a handful of diets that people in this class follow, but there are hundreds more out there:

  • Low-Carb
  • High protein
  • Gluten-free
  • Sugar-free
  • Dairy-Free
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle gain

While class #2 is staying constant in size, the number of people affected by class #1 or class #3 are increasing. We don’t know why food allergies are on the rise, but we do know that as a society we are becoming more aware of what we’re eating and how food affects our bodies.

This realization has increased the number of people in the “diet” category. And as more and more health information research is revealed, more and more people will start following a diet of some sort.

Who knows? We all may have a dietary restriction one day.

The Edible Project is all about helping people find the food that suits their lifestyle. Arriving in LA soon:

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