I am often asked by people what kind of diet do I follow? My answer is surprisingly simple; I am gluten free because I am Coeliac and I choose to avoid refined sugar as much as reasonably possible. My diet does have elements of Paleo but it is also the best of the Mediterranean diet. I think many people expect that I would be an advocate for keto or raw food diet. No, I don’t believe in making life unnecessarily hard for my clients. What I do expect are positive changes that are sustainable long term which deliver measurable improvements to their health and wellbeing.
It is impossible to summarise the pro’s and mostly cons of all the diet fads that come my way, there are just too many. I will briefly give you my nutritional assessment of the ones that are commonly started .
KETOGENIC: involves consuming a large portion of fat and is very low in carbohydrate. In all fairness I do sometimes recommend this difficult diet. It is usually in cases of neurological conditions such as epilepsy and nerve diseases. Long term however it can cause protein energy malnutrition (PEM), side effects can include hair loss and viral symptoms.
I think this diet has gone a bit off the rails with advice like this on many keto websites;
“Stay hydrated and eat salt. Broth, salty foods like bacon and deli meat, or salted nuts. These are good things to eat and drink while you’re transitioning into ketosis and are good things to help keep you sane and functional.”
As a nutritionist I certainly do not recommend eating processed meat over fresh fruit, vegetables and quality protein. The Keto Gurus suggest diets are deficient in good fats this is true, but we do not need to translate this to snacking on bacon.
Many people who wish to adapt a ketogenic diet would most likely benefit from a Modified Atkin’s Diet. This can give very similar benefits as keto without such extreme restrictions and side effects.
GLUTEN FREE: many people will begin a gluten free diet and claim it did nothing to alleviate their symptoms. This can be for a number of reasons. Gluten is not solely the problem. The diet is still full of sugar and processed food or the consistency was poor. If you think gluten is a problem see a nutritionist first to help you navigate your symptoms and plan an effective gluten free diet.
RAW FOOD: there are a few versions of this diet, they are usually vegan. A vegan diet is difficult enough without making it raw. This excludes all the nourishing legumes and root vegetables that a vegan diet really needs. Cooking actually releases nutrients from foods and makes them more available to the body for utilisation. The only positive outcome of a raw diet is the invention of those delicious raw cheesecakes. To put it bluntly, there is no plausible reason to be on a raw food diet.
DETOX: many clients are surprised when I don’t hit them up with a detox. I am not against detoxing but am more supportive around long term changes not just short-term ones that make you resent being healthy. I discourage detoxing for anyone who is on strong medication or who is breastfeeding. The outcomes can really be undesirable. We need to constantly make good decisions regarding our diet, and we should always be kind to our liver.
FASTING: there are definitely benefits to fasting however they do not apply to everyone. Before you begin a fasting regime, I would consult with a health professional first. Considerations such as age, disease, lifestyle and health history need to be considered.
80/20 RULE: this really isn’t a bad diet, the idea that you are good 80 percent of the time and a bit indulgent 20 percent. The only downfall with the 80/20 is that the “interpretation of how much you can indulge in the 20 percent period can really affect your overall efforts. It is not ideal to spend Monday to Friday trying to undo the damage from the weekend.
NUTRI-CHONDRIA: definition; the condition where one believes that they are constantly allergic or intolerant to certain or many foods. A nutrichondriac usually is self-diagnosed and may actually not have an issue with the associated food group.
It could be said that nutri-chondria is a first world nutritional problem. Definitely we can see this in those that will bounce from Keto one week to carb loading the next. It isn’t fair however to dismiss those that are making a valid attempt to improve their health and wellbeing. In many cases of people hopping on and off different diet plans it can often have a lot to do with not understanding how foods work in our body.
Understanding how different foods positively and negatively affect our overall health and wellbeing is an important part of nutritional medicine.
So if you have ever found yourself in a confused process of excluding everything from nightshade vegetables to anything that may contain salicylates and are still wondering why you feel ordinary? Make an appointment with Holy Mackerel Health.