Many of us are becoming more mindful of what we put into our body. This can be for a number of reasons, from wanting to have the perfect body like we see in magazines, or from being scare-mongered by reports that obesity rates are on the rise and eating certain foods can increase our risk of having a heart-attack.
We therefore jump into action by reading the food labels in shops, or sitting at lunch with just a measly lettuce leaf. In fact, we all probably know at least one person who has started a new fad diet or has joined a weight loss program. Even supermarkets are directing us, by stocking up on all the latest ‘superfoods’ for us to include in our diet. Restaurants have also started telling us just how many calories we may be consuming. If that’s not enough, we often see news of drastic weight losses by celebrities and listen eagerly for their top “secrets to success” to try out ourselves.
However, is what we’re being told about healthy nutrition correct, or could it actually be causing you more harm than good?
To help you sort fact from fiction, we share our top 3 things you should re-consider:
1. Cutting out whole food groups
Many of the latest diets suggest you cut out whole food groups such as fat and carbohydrates. Juice cleansing seems to be one of the latest trends and is quite controversial for this very reason, as it requires you to abstain from eating food, whilst only drinking fruit and vegetable juices. This can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks!
Although you may be happy to see an initial weight loss, it isn’t necessarily good news in the longer term. Some recent research suggests that to stay healthy, our body needs to have a good mixture of foods. By removing whole food groups from our diet, we could be creating imbalances in our gut which could increase the likelihood of putting on weight. It’s therefore better to have a balanced and varied diet, with the removal of sugar, processed foods and alcohol.
2. Extreme dieting to lose weight
Open any magazine and you will see people talking about the latest diet they’ve been on, showing their incredible results. It’s therefore not surprising that many people try to replicate their success, but often without the desired results. This is often because they find the diets too difficult to follow and unsustainable in the long term.
Instead of crash dieting, aim to make smaller, gradual changes to your eating habits. Focus on including whole foods into your diet, whilst removing processed foods and sugars. By making a few better decisions, you will have a stronger chance of sticking to your nutrition plan, instead of yo-yo dieting. You should look at developing a health and fitness regime to work alongside your nutrition plan too.
3. Focusing on calories rather than what the calories are made up of
There may be a recommended number of calories we can consume each day, but a calorie isn’t just a calorie, as it depends where that calorie came from. For example, if you ate 2,000 calories from a balanced diet, you may find it easier to lose weight than a person who ate 2,000 calories which were made up of fried, processed foods. It’s therefore important to look beyond calorie counting and consider the type of food that you’re filling up on too.
What’s most important?
We believe your relationship with food shouldn’t be a negative one. Just because you’re trying to be healthy, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy food. It’s about eating in moderation and having a balanced diet of whole foods, teamed with a good exercise regime.
What do you think of fad diets and some of the other lengths people will go to in order to lose weight? We’d love to hear your stories and tips.
Elizabeth Harmon is a writer for Open Colleges Careers.