Our immediate way of life calls for quick results in almost everything we do. The general rule is “Gimmie a quick and effective hack and I’m there.” Those who lead way too busy lives don’t have time to research the latest and greatest on nutritional science. As a result, the big headlines are often very enticing, but the problem is that a lot of nutritional advice goes to extremes. So before you go all out on that “I really mean it this time, I have to lead a healthier life in 2018” resolution, check out these five not-so-healthy trends. Don’t worry, we’ll make it fast and simple!
#1 Extreme Dieting: It’s time to think of the word ‘diet’ as a noun. It’s something everyone has, not something you do, or can ‘be on.’ Severely limiting calories or following a strict plan consisting of only a few foods or even liquids in the hopes to lose weight is not a sustainable way to work your way to health. While you can lose weight following one of these plans, it often throws people into the bad habits of yo-yo dieting. Depriving your body from the adequate nutritional fuel it needs to run properly can have some pretty negative results like mood swings, lack of energy, brain fog, dull skin, slowed metabolism, constipation and bloating. Yuck! Making small, positive changes to your diet over time can help you lead a healthier lifestyle, and reach your health goals, without going to extremes.
#2 Gluten-Free Eating, Just Because: Over the past several years, “gluten-free” went from a medical recommendation to a health fad to, sometimes, a marketing ploy. The truth is, whether going gluten-free is a good choice for you depends on factors like how your individual body digests gluten and your lifestyle. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. There’s no doubt that those diagnosed with this disease as well as those with gluten sensitivities and wheat allergies should avoid foods that contain gluten. However, many health care professionals advise against a gluten-free diet unless it’s absolutely necessary because whole grains containing gluten like wheat, rye and barley are linked to reduced risks of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases. In other words, for healthy people, they’re healthy, and avoiding them can actually introduce more ingredients into your diet that you should actually be avoiding, like added sugar.
#3 Cutting Out Fats: Let’s finally put to bed the thought that eating fat makes you fat. The days of low-fat or reduced-fat are behind us. Often, the products that have the fat removed have other filler ingredients added, and are often higher in sugar! Fat doesn’t make you fat! Fats are satiating and help you feel more satisfied after a meal, meaning you need less to feel full. Healthy fats like omega-3s also offer so many benefits, like brain and heart health. Whole milk greek yogurt? We’re for it!
#4 Supplement Supersizing: Adding a good nutritional supplement to your diet is a positive move, but more is not necessarily better, especially when it comes to fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Taking excess amounts of these vitamins can potentially lead to overaccumulation, toxicity and other negative side effects. As for water soluble vitamins? Any excess will simply be excreted in your urine.
#5 All Raw, Vegan Diet: Adding raw fruits and vegetables to your daily diet is a smart move. However, adhering to this strict regimen can be risky because an all raw, vegan diet can often be lacking in important nutrients like vitamin B12, which can cause fatigue, constipation and appetite loss. It also often lacks calcium, an important nutrient for bone health, and vitamin D, a nutrient associated with many health-promoting benefits.
Okay, so this may not be exciting advice, but good common sense is really all that you need to make good choices when it comes to your diet. As we all know, any ‘quick fix’ diet or health trend is not the answer to better health. Focusing on real whole foods that are minimally processed, and incorporating lots of vegetables, fruit, lean proteins (and did we mention vegetables?!) into your diet can help you work your way to better health!
Keri Glassman, MS.RD.CDN