Modern Dieting – what’s for the best?
There are so many diet fads out there these days its hard to know what’s good for you and what’s not? How many calories should you consume in a day for your gender, body size or age? Should you be fasting and following the 5:2 or the 16:8? Should we be cutting out meat altogether and going vegetarian or cutting out meat and dairy and sticking to a plant-based diet that is apparently not only better for you but also for the environment? How about fats, good fats, salt and sugar and now we are told even gluten is bad for us…to be honest is there anything left for us to eat and not feel guilty that we are doing the wrong thing for our health, our bodies, our mind and well being and now the environment if we are lead to believe that EVERYTHING we read is fact?
Another issue is how we are receiving our ‘healthy diet’ information – now there are far more outlets for receiving this data than ever before. We are no longer just trusting our doctors advise or a health professional like a nutritionist but we are following the advise we hear from friends and family, from books, magazines and the thousands of TV shows based around this topic, diet groups like Slimming World and Weight Watchers, and the many many websites, social media sites and video sites that offer advice on what we should be eating, how we should be eating it and when is best for us to do so.
So what are some of these new ‘fads’?
I’m certainly not a practitioner in health care or a specialist in diet and nutritions and can honestly say I don’t have an interest in dieting, what we should eat – why, how, where and what for – but I do have an interest in food…and again that doesn’t make me an expert…but for those of you reading this article that would like a quick summery of the most recent dieting trends here’s a quick rundown of a few I’m aware of that are doing the rounds and getting talked about.
Cutting out Gluten.
This is something that I find confusing. I’m sure that this trend just shouldn’t exist for those of us that don’t have an intolerance to gluten or don’t have Celiac disease. The marketers have literally jumped on the ‘Gluten-Free’ bandwagon – and that’s fantastic news for those persons wanting to buy those products out of necessity as they are more readily available in our stores but for those of us who have no need NOT to consume gluten – why are we doing it? It’s actually difficult to find a ‘normal’ made with gluten cupcake or brownie in my local farmers market – almost every stall now only offers the ‘healthier’ gluten-free alternative.
But what actually is Gluten?
Gluten contains important nutrients like fibre and B vitamins – so why give it up if it’s not harming us?
This nice little neatly packaged word basically means you ‘FLEX’ between being a carnivore and a Vegetarian – aren’t we all basically flexitarian? Having some kind of cereal with milk for breakfast, a salad sandwich for lunch and Chicken with vegetables as an evening meal – does that count as being Flexitarian? Or having 2 fully meat-free days out of 7? Either way is that having our (meat) CAKE and eating it? The good news for those of us who like labels is……we have 1….
Full on Vegan
Forget just being vegetarian – that’s just too easy – they say the next and better step not only for you but also for the environment is being Vegan. A fully plant-based diet – no meat, no fish, no dairy…..but can you cope with it? Like all diets, there are health claims but by eliminating specific whole food groups from your diet you are potentially at risk of missing out on certain micronutrients.
There are now many milk alternatives on the market – soya milk, rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk to name just a few. Again as consumers, we are able to purchase these alternatives (at a higher cost price to its cousin the humble dairy cow milk) in every local supermarket, and are again being told and sold on the potential health benefits. Many of these non dairy alternatives are lactose-free, and gluten free, great for those of us who are actually lactose intolerant or allergic to gluten. But like all alternatives there are pro’s and con’s. Some alternatives are also higher in carbohydrates which can be bad for diabetics, as it could cause a sudden sugar overload. And actually higher in calories.
These alternatives are also low in proteins and calcium. And where its good news for those lactose intolerant or allergic to gluten – its bad news for tree nut allergies, consuming almond milk, for instance, may cause you to suffer a dangerous allergic reaction. Personally, I’m sticking to my full fat cow’s milk!
Fasting – the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time is certainly not a new diet ‘fad’. Fasting has been used for centuries across many different religions. However more recently its being talked about as a dieting revolution as a dieting ‘lifestyle’ that can not only help in the aid of weight loss but also in mindfulness and how we think about our relationship with food.
5:2 – Where you are encouraged to eat normally for 5 days a week and fast for the other 2, consuming only 500 calories for your 2 fasting days.
16:8 – Where you fast for 16 hours a day and eat whatever you want in 8 hours so for example between 10am and 6pm. Researchers have implied that this form of intermittent fasting may be more tolerable for some people.
What’s the best diet to follow?
Its important to remember that not all the advice we get is legitimate, not all we read has come from a reliable source, not all bloggers are trained dieticians and nutritionists – they are simply offering their own personal opinion. Which is great as we all need a little advise from time to time – but please do remember that not all advice is right, not all advice is right for us as we are all individual. So don’t just follow what you read if it’s not from a legitimate source, speak to a health professional if you need some professional advice and NEVER just follow a fad diet if you haven’t done some proper research.
The old phrase ‘A Little bit of what you fancy does you some good’ – well in moderation most things are fine. We need a little bit of everything to have a healthy fully balanced diet. But remember I’m not a Dietitian! So there you have it…in my opinion Moderation is the key to a healthy well-balanced diet.