You want to improve your diet and eat healthy but what does that exactly mean? With so many diet and eating trends available, it’s easy to become confused?
Statistics show that 80 percent of diets fail within the first 12 months.
Here’s what nutritionists say about some of the most common diet and eating trends on your social feed.
The Zero-Carb Diet
The zero-carb trend creates an irrational fear of all carbs and isn’t ideal for women’s health. Carb-restriction is an unhealthy approach for women’s health. Low-carb dieting can backfire and impact hormones over time.
The body’s preferred energy source comes from glucose, which you can only get from carbohydrates. This means when you aren’t getting enough glucose from complex carbohydrates. Your cortisol levels increase, leading to weight gain and even affect fertility.
Low-carb dieting can also significantly reduce fiber and prebiotic intake. This is essential for gut and hormone harmony. Many crucial nutrients and minerals also come from carbohydrate sources. Not getting enough starchy carbs can create deficiencies and imbalances over time. In order to avoid this, include a cup of whole food carbohydrate sources. Sources such as sweet potatoes, plantains, vegetables, and sprouted grains. Complex carbs are not the enemy!
The true keto diet was originally designed for people with epilepsy. They actually contain much more fat than the diet people are following these days. So, really, people following the keto diet for weight loss are not following the true diet.
The current keto diet, is very low carb, high fat, and high protein. There are many problems with the keto diet, but the most prevalent is the distribution of macronutrients. Carbohydrates are our body’s number one choice for fuel. Carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide a wide variety of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Not eating these foods can lead to deficiencies.
Another problem with the keto diet, is the potential stress on the kidneys. People on the diet typically increase their intake of high fat and high protein animal foods. This is harder for our kidneys to process and filter, potentially leading to kidney stones or declined kidney function. This diet is so popular because it leads to quick weight loss (which is not healthy). Staying on the keto diet long-term has actually been linked to an increased risk of health issues like heart disease and kidney disease.
Some nutritionists aren’t a fan of calorie counting either. Calorie counting is the ultimate trap since it reduces nutrition to quantity over quality. Just like you shouldn’t obsess about the number on the scale, the same is true for calories. Calorie counting is misleading because not all calories are created equal. For instance, three cups of broccoli contain 122 calories, which is about the same as a peppermint patty candy bar. However, it’s not just about calories in and out, it’s really about nutrient density and avoiding processed foods altogether.
Cruciferous whole foods like broccoli contain nutrients like sulforaphane that actually assist in helping the liver clear excess hormones like estrogen more efficiently, which can lead to weight loss and a healthy metabolism. As a society, we need to start thinking about food for its nutritional value, rather than taking a reductionist approach to nutrition with calorie counting.
Cleanses are completely unnecessary, no matter how soon your beach vacation is. Two major organs, the liver and the kidneys, detox and cleanse our bodies every day at all times. Detoxes and cleanses that typically ask people to only drink some sort of concoction for a number of days, says Lubeck, often leads to diarrhea and rapid water weight loss, which gives people a false sense of success. However, as soon as you stop a cleanse and start eating and drinking regularly again, any weight you lost will come right back because it was not true weight loss.
Alternatively, if you stick to eating nutritious food while on vacation, you do not need to go on a cleanse when you get home. The best thing to do is just enjoy yourself on vacation and realize that a day or two of indulging is not going to cause rapid weight gain or a total shift in your health. When you get home, just get back to your normal eating routine and you will feel like yourself again in no time.
While intermittent fasting might be all the rage, it might also be doing your hormones more harm than good. From a hormone perspective, fasting increases cortisol which creates inflammation and imbalance in the long-term. Intermittent fasting can provide results in the short-term, it’s really not meant to be a long-term solution because high cortisol levels for a long period of time can put the body into a catabolic state of breakdown. For instance, fasting stress can increase cortisol and eventually lead to blood sugar deregulation, which creates insulin resistance and affects hormones. This can look like waking up in the middle of the night, or not having enough energy throughout the day. It’s important to realize that skipping meals is an added stressor to the body, and intermittent fasting can increase that stress load in an already stressed and depleted body.
A better approach would be to have a cut off time for dinner (i.e. no later than six or seven at night) and to eat a protein-packed breakfast within the first hour of waking.
What to consider instead
Diets come with rules for eating and exercising that can lead to the development of harmful disordered eating habits. Disordered eating can eventually lead to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and more. The diet industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry, which should tell people something about just how influential it can be.
As we begin to understand the toll diet culture has had on us one question always pops up. If my relationship with food feels out of control and I’m not happy with my body what can I do to improve my overall wellbeing? Sixty-five percent of women struggle with disordered eating and another 10% have eating disorders which can greatly impact their mental health and ability to focus on things we know build true wellness like relationships, purpose and inner connection.
Some food for thought when it comes to aspects of our lives that bring more meaning and fulfillment than counting calories and carbs ever could.
The best approach to eating? Includes all foods and all nutrients. This means carbs, fat, and protein in more proportional amounts.
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