How do you keep a special diet balanced?

More people are embracing special diets, but cutting food out means you need to add things in for a balanced and heart-healthy diet. Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor explains how.

A set of scales balancing meat and fish with pulses and proteins 

Special diets are big business. You only need to look at the ‘free from’ shelves in the supermarket, where there has been an explosion in products in recent years. As well as people who can’t eat certain foods due to allergies or conditions, avoiding certain foods has become an increasingly popular dietary choice too. In the UK the number of vegans has grown by 360 per cent in 10 years to more than half a million, according to the Vegan Society, while other special diets, such as gluten-free and dairy-free, are even more common.

Why do people choose special diets?

People choose these diets for reasons of ethics, health or personal preference. Whatever your motive, it’s not something to be taken lightly, so think carefully before you embark on one of these diets. Changing your diet while still looking after your heart health can seem daunting. Look on the positive side by focusing on what you can eat, or could eat more of.

Cutting things out doesn’t mean you have to stick to the ‘free from’ shelves. It does, however, mean you may need to add other foods to your diet to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.

Read our expert's guide to the most common special diets, and what you should include to keep them balanced as well as heart-healthy:

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