There are so many fad diets, trends and bandwagons out there these days, and I want to set the record straight so that you don’t jump on one blindly.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s dive right in.
The Gluten Free Diet
Just because a product is gluten free or organic does not mean that it’s good for you, or even healthy for that matter. Many gluten free products, such as buns or bread, contain a lot of additives, preservatives and GMO’s. A gluten free muffins from your favourite coffee bar for example is typically full of sugar (organic or not, it doesn’t matter) making it more of a cupcake then a muffin. Don’t let the label “gluten free” trick you into thinking that something (like a muffin) is better for you then its gluten-full counterpart. The truth is, a lot of gluten free versions are actually worse for you.
There are many organic products, such as white sugar or white bread, that if consumed regularly will have a negative impact on your health and waistline. Eating a lot of grains, even if they’re whole grain brown rice, can also have a negative effect on your waistline.
There are many people who find that eating wheat or gluten can cause bloating, gas or fatigue. For these people eating gluten free can be very beneficial, but choosing the right gluten free products is extremely important. If you’re on a gluten free diet look for products that aren’t overly processed and don’t have more than 5 ingredients. Whole grains that are gluten free, such as brown rice, quinoa, and millet are great options.
30-day cleanses can be great way to kickstart your weight loss journey and get you eating healthy. Typically with cleanses you eliminate sugar, wheat or gluten, fried foods and maybe even dairy. Eliminating these foods automatically eliminates most junk and fast food items, which is why cleanses can be good for you. During the 30 days of a cleanse most people lose weight, gain energy, sleep better and have a clearer mind.
The problem with these cleanses is… what happens after the 30 days? There is usually no post-cleanse plan, and the cleanse hasn’t taught you how to eat in the real world. Long story short: if you go back to eating how you did before your cleanse, you will quickly go back to how you felt and looked before going on it; which is why people tend to gain weight after a cleanse.
I’ve found that if you make small changes that you can stick to, and keep these new habits going for a few months, it’s easier for them to become a regular part of your routine and maintain in the long-run. That said, a 30-day cleanse can work well if you’re ready to make big changes and have a plan for what happens after the 30 days.
Vegetarian and Vegan
First of all I want to set the record straight and say that I’m not picking on vegetarians or vegans in any way. I respect and appreciate anyone who wants to eat right for their body and not harm animals while they’re doing it. But as with any diet, including the common omnivore diet, it’s important to do your research, listen to your body and know what you’re putting into it.
Vegetarians and vegans who do their research, eat a balanced diet and listen to their bodies can do very well living on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Some people however are not meant to be vegan or vegetarian. These people typically end up fatigued, pale and failing to thrive, despite following a balance vegan or vegetarian diet. When people who fall into this category start eating good quality (preferably grass fed or organic) meat again, they tend to get their energy and vitality back.¹
Why can a vegan or vegetarian diet be less than great for you? Many people who become vegetarians stop eating meat and replace it with refined and processed carbohydrates, as well as takeout food. These types of vegetarians are typically very unhealthy and have trouble losing weight. Getting your daily protein requirements and not filling up on loads of carbohydrates is a challenge for many vegetarians, but as any successful vegetarian or vegan will tell you, is possible. It all comes down to knowing what you’re putting into your body, and following a balanced diet. If you do your research and make sure that you’re getting all of the necessary amino acids, by properly combining certain grains, such as brown rice with beans to make it a complete protein, you will be able to thrive off of either of these diets.
The Sugar Free Diet
A lot of people believe that sugar free means calorie free. Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because something is labelled “sugar free” does not mean that it’s better for you. No calorie sweeteners are made up of chemicals or are chemically-altered to taste very sweet, but contain low to no calories. To make something “no calorie” a product must go through an unnatural chemical process to extract the natural calories found in that product. Studies have shown that consuming these no calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, can lead to headaches, seizures, insomnia, depression, irritability, dizziness and fatigue. They have also shown that consuming aspartame can cause metabolic disorders, weight gain and insulin resistance. Studies in mice have even shown an increase in brain tumours.
Consuming no calorie sweeteners causes you to crave more sugar and sweet foods, which also contributes to increase in weight.² Sugar free products are hidden in many common food products that we don’t think of, such as toothpaste, throat lozenges, gum, any low calorie or calorie free food, vitamins and many yogurt products. Make sure to read labels and avoid the following ingredients when selecting your food, as all are low or no calorie sweeteners.
Low or No Calorie Sweeteners to Avoid:
Acesulfame-K or Sweet One
Sweet n’ Low
Stevia is the only no calorie sweetener that is not made from chemicals. It’s a herb, also known as honey leaf, and is one of the best natural sweeteners available. It is considered a herbal product and it not only completely safe to consume, but also has healing properties. Stevia does not affect blood sugar metabolism, and is good for people who want to lose weight. It’s also safe for cooking and baking. That said, it’s very sweet so you only need a small amount.¹
In closing, I hope that this information has helped to clear up any misconceptions you may have had about any of these diet choices. My goal as a holistic nutritionist is to educate people on the different ways of eating, and the foods that they are consuming, so that they can make informed dietary decisions and remove the stress from eating.
If you have any questions about anything that I have touched on in this post, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to discuss them with you further either via email or in-person.
Here’s to healthy and stress-free eating!
1. Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions