Cooper Smith_Orthorexia nervosa_Flickr

A Healthy Diet & Lifestyle: Why You Should ‘Detox’ Your Attitude and Goal Setting Criteria & Not Your Body

Diet & Weight Loss, Exercise, Healthy Mind

HAPPY 2016 EVERYONE! 😀

We’ve had a relaxing break and hope that you’ve all had a safe, happy and healthy festive period too!

As we transition into this sparkling New Year, it offers the chance of promise and a ‘clean slate’ of fresh opportunities. What are you planning; resolutions to rid yourself of bad habits, drastic diets or some realistic permanent and positive changes?

 

This is a cheeky picture of us during Christmas and no we hadn’t been drinking, but we were still enjoying the moment! You do not have to drink to enjoy social occasions, and having preconceived ideas of what you need to do to have a good time can set you up for a bumpy ride. This can also apply to ‘getting healthy’, especially at this time of year.

January usually brings a flood of clichés and crazy regimes, including ‘detox diets’. We have previously mentioned how we feel about ‘superfoods’, ‘detox/BS Health Terms’ and ‘diets and to recap, it’s unnecessary and typically diets will set you up to fail. Instead of trying to ‘detox’ your liver, gut, or your right foot, maybe you should try ‘spring cleaning’ your attitude and goal setting criteria instead.

 

 

 

…So here are five areas which we recommend you concentrate your energy on:

 

1. Give Up On Quick Fixes & Following Fad Diets

Photo by: Steve Davis, Fad diet stock photo_flickr

Photo by: Steve Davis, (Fad diet stock photo) Flickr

We all know that quick fixes and fad diets do not work long term and yet a great many people convince themselves that this time they’ve discovered the secret to easy and rapid weight loss. The only secret is the one kept by the marketers of these diets, which is that you’ll regain the weight as soon as you stop following the diet. However, this isn’t much of a secret, as we’re sure many followers of these quick fixes have been through this cycle at least once already. So what we should be doing is retraining our brains and attitudes.

Creating bad, good or even easy habits can be addictive by nature, but when it comes to creating long term and permanent commitments, we should be seeking only positive ones. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses when modifying your diet and lifestyle and realise that it’s a long-term commitment, not just an intermittent hobby; meaningful changes will not occur overnight.

We have previously talked about ‘fad gluten free diets’, but the principle can be applied to most fad regimes. You might think you need to give up carbs, gluten or go on a seven day detox to lose weight, but why has this become ingrained into your thought processes? The important question to ask yourself is why no accredited nutritionist and/or Dietitian worthy of the name would suggest a quick fix or unscientifically based mantra?

So if someone and/or a product suggests that you can achieve meaningful weight loss through a quick fix (a.ka. a fad diet!), you should put as much distance between them and yourself as possible… and query any other health advice they have to offer.

Which leads us to….‘Detoxing’.

The term ‘detox’ is very real, especially if you’re suffering from alcoholism. When it comes to ‘detoxing’, there isn’t enough credible scientific data published to show that we should take it upon ourselves to ‘cleanse’ or detoxify our bodies in the absence of any genuine addictions. Eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods is a lifestyle change that will benefit anyone. A healthful diet and lifestyle helps our liver, kidneys, colon and other organs to preform our natural mechanisms of ‘detox ’to help keep our bodies running without fail; detox kits and/or regimes do not offer us any substantial benefit and can cause diarrhoea, short term water loss, nutritional deficiencies and a dent in our wallets.

 

2. Be Realistic About Exercise

Photo by: Randy and Sarita, Shoemakers Photostream (ReneeB_Crunchy time) Flickr

Exercise can help reduce our risk in developing heart disease, dementia and other chronic conditions but it does not always promote weight loss, especially if we disregard food portion controls and other healthy eating advice! It can be a great way to improve our mental and physical fitness, but don’t expect it to provide you with a ‘detoxing’ solution. When we sweat, we release sodium, not toxins; as mentioned above, our body has other processes to deal with this. Don’t get us wrong, you can work up a great sweat and detoxify your mind of negative and destructive thoughts, which is great a way to de-stress your mind of day-to-day anxieties and fears.

Developing a realistic exercise programme (one that we can easily fit into our day-to-day lives and enjoy!) can take time and a lot of trial and error. As we are hardwired to conserve energy, we can naturally procrastinate, trying to put off the inevitable… including regular exercise.

If you are new to exercise, it might be worth checking with your healthcare professional first. Embarking on a new exercise regime will take persistence and patience and there are ways to make it easier, but quite honestly it won’t always feel ‘fun’. There have been times where we have felt that exercise was a bit bothersome or that prior to the session it just wouldn’t be ‘good’. All of this pessimistic thinking only leads to failing before you have begun. Putting it into perspective, you wouldn’t expect that going into your office everyday would be prefect, bad days happen, but you do get through them; no one calls in sick because the day in question might be rubbish, so why treat your exercise sessions any differently?!

 

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Photo by: Comradehomer (Easy tricks to help you lose weight fast) Flickr

Genetics, age, personal circumstances… we are all different, including the way that we lose weight. For example, Alex has the metabolism of a jet engine and struggles to gain weight, whilst my metabolism needs regular exercise and meals to make sure it’s running efficiently and to help keep my health (and waistline!) in check.

When it comes to meaningful weight loss, there are no quick fixes and there is definitely not a ‘one size fits all approach’; one method that will allow everyone to lose weight in the same timespan or manner.

Additionally we all come in different shapes and sizes; not everyone is designed to be a size 4! We need to appreciate our own circumstances, bodies and cast aside any unrealistic or unhealthy ideals.

A picture of a skinny body does not necessarily depict a healthy diet, it might be down to genetics or a case of someone having high levels of will power and/or potentially disordered eating behaviours.

So don’t compare yourselves to others, we all have our own journey and it is never truly finished; healthy living continues beyond ‘weight loss’, which is only one of many steps.

 

4. Manage Negative Influences

Photo by: Beauty Playin 'Eh's Photostream_img8564_digging for more_Flickr

Photo by: Beauty Playin ‘Eh’s Photostream (img8564_digging for more) Flickr

Negative influences can include anyone or anything that provokes or causes unnecessary stress, roadblocks and/or illness in our lives. Remember it is OK to say NO to people, especially to those ‘office feeders’, a friend that always gets you to skip your gym sessions, a spouse that does most of the cooking but refuses to cook vegetables or to fad health enthusiasts or even your friend’s mother that advises you to give up carbohydrates or that you shouldn’t eat after 6pm… these are all examples of negative influences.

 

Social Contagion Theory

It’s been shown that social networks can influence the size of your waistband. According to a study (regarding obesity in large social networks) published during 2007 in the New England Journal of medicine, their analysis showed that a person’s risk of obesity has a greater influence from their social networks than their genetics. When a study participant’s friend became obese, that first participant had a 57% greater chance of becoming obese himself. We guess that it can be put down to social norms or preconceptions of what is ‘normal behaviour’.

To paraphrase a leading psychologist speaking on a BBC Radio 4 programme last month “we normalise our own behaviours and attitudes based on the averages of our social groups.” E.g. If your entire social network is overweight, you are unlikely to believe that being overweight yourself is unhealthy and/or a problem and are likely to avoid examples, groups and messages to the contrary. You may have heard the saying ‘we create our own realities’!

It’s not all bad news though; a study published during 2013 in Public Health Nutrition looked at weight-control strategies among adolescents with the assistance of family support. It showed that 50% of the group reporting sustained weight loss seemed to have more familial support.

Quite truthfully, you might lose friendships as you adapt and change your lifestyle because not everyone is ‘game to being a fitness buddy’ or ready to make permanent lifestyle changes themselves. However, true friends should understand your principles about making these healthy changes and should not be out to sabotage your good intentions.

 

5. Create Regular Consolidation (a.k.a Zen & Realistic Problem Solving!)

Photo by: Hannah Johnson_yoga_flickr

Photo by: Hannah Johnson (yoga) Flickr

It’s important for us to be diligent and create regular ways in which to reflect, focus on the positives and generate our own bespoke plans; allowing us to change our attitudes, behaviours and/or thought processes that could inhibit us from leading a healthier life, particularly one that we truly desire and deserve!

Plans might be set in motion in order to:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce our alcohol consumption.
  • Improve our cooking skills so that we can eat healthier meals.
  • Go to our GP to see why we are having intestinal cramps (not just putting ourselves on a GF diet!).
  • Understand what the potential reasons are as to why we are overweight.
  • Learn how to control our emotions- jealously, anger, fear or sadness could all be a recipe for disaster!
  • Exercise to improve our total quality of life- but hey, that could mean spending more time in the bedroom too! 😉
  • Learn how to unplug from the mainstream (saying goodbye to long hours spent in front of a computer or iPhone!).
  • Become more social- spending more quality time with the people that matter.
  • Reduce frivolous spending, learning how to budget and/or reduce debt.

 

It could also include ways to help us unwind and deal with the stress in our lives, such as: meditation, yoga, trying not to overcommit to social engagements or making time to read in our bedrooms without any interruptions for one hour a week. Another trend is expressing your thoughts on paper; daily or weekly gratitude journal entries. Planning can help instil positive and long term behaviours, helping us to avoid temptations, distractions and/or being able to find the best time(s) in order to start modifying our diet and lifestyles.

It can be recognising that changing one thing in our life may not create the happiness that we have been craving, e.g. losing weight will not necessary make us happy. If you were depressed before the weight loss, it might be there afterwards. Sometimes it’s not only about weight loss- it’s about finding ways to enrich our lives, becoming happy, healthier and hopefully blessed with more friendships and positive experiences as a result.

 

So let’s remember that everyone has the ability to lead healthier and happier lives (no ‘detox’ pills, drinks or crazy regimes needed!)… we just need to focus on the right decisions, methods and actions to do it!

Are you feeling optimistic? Are you ready for some permanent
and positive changes this year? What are your SMART goals?

 

Article written by:
A. Risby BSc, RD and L. Risby BSc, Nutritionist

 

Sources:
BDA-Detox Diets
NHS Choices- Benefits to Exercise
NHS Choices- 10 Minute Workouts
PubMed
The New England Journal of Medicine
BBC Radio 4 Programme – A leading clinical psychologist !
Public Health Nutrition
BDA-Weight Wise (SMART Goals)
Feature Image by: Cooper Smith (Orthorexia nervosa)_Flickr

 

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Leading A Healthy Lifestyle & Weight Loss: A Personal Account

Diet & Weight Loss

When it comes to leading a better quality of life, we all have a journey, a story to tell, one that most can relate to… including mine. I am not searching for empathy or a pat on the back, nor am I trying to be your go-to health-nut guru. I’m just trying to express my views, my personal account of the pitfalls and harsh realities of weight loss and healthy living; an account that not everyone is capable of or willing to divulge. So, before you judge a book by its cover, let me tell you about some very candid personal truths.

 

Photo by: alyssa kirby_flickr

Photo by: Alyssa Kirby (Flickr)

I too can empathise with you…if you’re trying to lose weight…trying to find a balance of diet and exercise, or mindlessly eating without reflecting on the contents of your food. You may not believe it to look at me now, but I too have overcome my own personal demons and moved on with my life.

I’m someone who could put on and lose weight fairly easily- if I put the effort into it; whether it is eating too many snacks, having frequent/large portions or exercising 4-5 times a week with sensible meal planning. Genetically speaking, I am predisposed to a number of ailments….but so is everybody else…but this doesn’t mean that my health or future is completely mapped out.

Avoiding type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity is in my hands; I do not wish to live a life dictated by chronic illness and prescribed medications.

 

As our blog has mentioned before, we all have to take personal accountability; there is always a price to pay for lack of awareness and ignorance. Obviously one shoe does not fit all… but we can all take similar steps to lead healthier lives; as we’ve mentioned in a previous article in January.

There were periods in my life where my weight yo-yoed. I’ve never been clinically overweight or obese, but my BMI was 24.5kg/m2; the cusp of being overweight.  Some may think that it’s not that significant, but the revelation of deciding to change is the same…no matter what weight you are.

 

The truth is a bad diet, lack of exercise, or trying to out exercise a bad diet wreaks havoc on mental and physical health…and I was caught up in this vicious circle like all the other serial dieters…up until about my mid-twenties.

Photo by: Rose Waterman_Flickr

Photo by: Rose Waterman (Flickr)

During this time I tried these types of diets/ideas:

-A Very-Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)
-High protein, low carbs (or more commonly known as ‘Atkins’)
-Loads of exercise, low calorie but a high protein intake
-No-sugar, low-fat
-A Smoothie/juice cleanse

 

I don’t need to tell you that these types of fad diets are all rubbish and some are potentially dangerous… and for good reason. Obviously this was before I saw sense, took responsibility and of course when off to university to study human nutrition.

 

Photo by: Katherine of Chicago_Flickr

Photo by: Katherine of Chicago (Flickr)

I took a dogmatic approach towards health, an all or nothing view, and I could never find a healthy and happy medium; a common mind-set I’m sure.

I am not even going to try and justify why I attempted any of these regimes… because I can’t and equally I know the reasons why these diets did not work; I didn’t and couldn’t comply with them (especially long term) and I did not educate myself on portion sizes and general healthy eating. I just bought into the same hype a lot of young health-enthusiasts do, e.g. carbohydrates are bad, don’t eat after 5pm, everybody juice! and your body needs to be detoxed; nonsense. These types of myths and poor insight still exist which fuels similar diets; check out our article on  gluten free diets.

I also bought into media images; this was before the massive trend of social media and the dreaded skinny selfies…and perhaps there was less fat shaming and instant victimisation of those that were not a size two as a result, perhaps not? But I think that seeing any picture of yourself (fat or thin), or of a thin celebrity, when your mindset is that skewed can bring it all home and produce black and white thinking; creating distorted body images and a shit storm of dieting. It’s funny though, when I look at some of those pictures now- I wonder what I was complaining about?!

 

None of these types of behaviours or drastic thinking sat comfortably with me, and taking my health into my own hands without being properly informed only meant one thing, doomed to start again! Whether that be in a week, a fortnight or in a month’s time….and I don’t know about you, but I was tired of it and completely aware that it was my own fault. I needed to take a step back and analyse ‘what was the driving force behind my behaviours’… what steps did I need to take in order to change… and who do I turn to for some sound advice?

Photo by: Oliver Symens_Flickr

Photo by: Oliver Symens (Flickr)

 

When it comes to weight loss, there are some that say “I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked”…well it’s because they are going about weight loss the wrong way and potentially they’re not dealing with any underlying (personal) issues. The dynamics of weight loss and good nutrition isn’t complicated, but humans are… by nature we can over complicate everything! If more of us would just comply with our healthcare professional’s advice, we would see results…this might sound trite, but it’s true; sadly (healthy & permanent) weight loss won’t happen overnight, and it takes complete compliance and most of all patience…so don’t be too hard on yourself.

As I have mentioned in a previous article, there are too many reasons to be fit and healthy, but ultimately it’s just easier to take the whole healthy lifestyle approach and just run with it! No more fad diets, no more excuses.

Photos by (starting from top left/clockwise): Sam (Flickr), Mikey Sklar (Flickr), Nadyana Magazine (Flickr) & Karyn Bosnak (Flickr).

 

From June last year my husband I started to adopt a vegan lifestyle, but we still ate fish on occasion; that aspect has now diminished. Doing this really helped give my whole outlook on food (ethically and medically) and my health a ‘full 360°’; I never thought my digestion would improve so much, or that I would be able to get off the unpleasant ‘sugar-train’… and now I have. If you’re worried that your vitamin and mineral levels will decline, then don’t. A recent blood test showed my iron and Vitamin B12 levels were thriving; plant-based lifestyles are sustainable! Check out our article on Plant-based proteins for more persuasion and read our articles on Supplements and ‘Superfoods’ before you part with your cash! I’m not saying that this type of approach is suitable for everyone, but countless studies offer evidence to support it. Check out our article on veganism to help you digest some further reasons why people might adopt this type of lifestyle. As always, everybody should consult with their health care professionals before making any drastic changes to their health.

 

As far as healthy eating goes and what foods to buy- everybody has their own individual considerations. Social media, time, cooking skills and affordability can all dictate and influence what we will choose to buy, e.g. buying ground flaxseed may be expensive to some but not for others…and that goes for just about anything on the supermarket shelves.

Photo by: Thinkpanama_flickr

Photo by: Thinkpanama (Flickr)

 

…But I’m telling you right now, everyone can eat healthily on a low-income. We did it when we were students and we do it now because we’re frugal and trying to prevent food wastage! The ‘frugal diet’ can put everything into perspective. Try checking out some of our recipes!

Plant-based diets are relatively cheap; on average, we spend £50-70/week (and I’m sure we could reduce it further if we tried). This feeds two people (three meals and one a snack a-day/ 7 days a week). As long as you meal plan, then there really isn’t a problem…and hey, anything to prevent food wastage right? BBC1 has recently started a miniseries on healthy eating & food wastage (Eat Well for Less?); assisting families with how much they spend on the weekly shops by encouraging them to do more of their own food prep (and therefore improve their health), eliminating brand biases (sometimes value brands are OK!) and reducing their food wastage through meal planning; very apt and things everyone should reflect on. It’s also worth checking out thecountyfare.net, they have written a great article recently that touches on meal planning; definitely worth a read. What’s in your supermarket basket? Are you making the most of you pennies? Do your current choices depict your current health status? That reminds me of a post  the Life is Good blog put out last year; check it out!

 

Photo by: Diabetes Care_Flickr

Photo by: Diabetes Care (Flickr)

 

I know, sometimes jumping through these hoops is quite mundane, especially when it comes to chopping vegetables and potentially spending a chunk of your Sunday prepping for the week ahead…but it is worth it in the end.

It’s the same with exercise, it’s something that we should all partake in…but do you opt for more sitting and serial munching or walking and eating healthily? Your waistline and your overall disposition will reflect your choices. A recent article I saw on the blog ‘The Zeit‘, emphasises how we all should have a healthier relationship with exercise; don’t use it as an escape from your problems. By doing this, exercise can fast turn into a chore and a military style punishment…but I was guilty of this. Guilty of pounding the pavement to forget or suppress unpleasant feelings or events…. Pounding the pavement (at times) to try to out exercise a bad diet! I started running when I was nineteen and quickly clocked up a lot of mileage. Unfortunately my knees aren’t built for long term running, but that’s besides the point. I have now developed a healthier relationship with exercise too.

Photo by: Patrick Marella_Flickr

Photo by: Patrick Marella (Flickr)

 

We should all remember, the three P’s: patience, persistence and a positive attitude, along with having the ability to stay motivated and applying/adapting realistic expectations into our health and well-being. This outlook will carry you through to help you meet your weight loss goals and guide you into that permanent healthier lifestyle that you desire.

We have to remember that were only human and we’re all fallible; even those with health credentials smoke, drink and can be generally hypocritical with the health advice they supply us with.

Life is there to be lived and we all need to find a healthy balance; negative thoughts and filling our heads with nonsensical information isn’t living. We just end up punishing ourselves through gruelling exercise and nightmare eating regimes, making life a lot harder than it needs be.

 

So…

  • Don’t set yourself up to fail…
  • Don’t torture yourself over small mistakes (this journey is not perfect)…
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help (especially if you feel a bit blue or recognise that you are an emotional eater)…
  • Don’t give up too easily. It can take time to develop a permanent and healthy relationship with food and/or exercise again… to be able to ‘trust your body’…
  • Don’t take everything at face value, whether that be about what you read about health or how you feel; people can be quite good at suppressing emotions…stiff upper lip and all…

…just follow attainable and informed/accredited health advice and remember to embrace life.

 

This may just be only one person’s opinion and personal account… but I am offering you some informed advice that will hopefully set you up for life and prevent you from making the same mistakes that I’ve made; some of my thoughts and experiences may resonate with you…or you may choose to ignore them…

Just remember though that healthy living and healthy weight loss is achievable, and there is nothing to be ashamed of; I got there and so can you.

 

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Katherine Of Chicago (Flickr)

“Tread with Caution- Gluten-Free Is a Fad” A Reader Response

Diet & Weight Loss

Hello everyone! Thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule today and stopping by our blog! Before you begin to read this post, please visit our friends over at theCountyfare.net. They’re a lovely, family-orientated nutrition-based site fully supporting and supplying everyone with evidence-based nutrition advice. They wrote this fantastic article on Gluten-Free (GF) diets last week that prompted us to write a response… only it turns out we actually had a lot to say!

Which is exactly what’s brought you to our blog today; this post shows our views and mutual agreements with thecountyfare concerning gluten-free diets.

Before we continue, we would like to quote thecountyfare regarding this topic “…I want to make very clear that one’s being incorrect on or unaware of the underlying science does not make him a bad person or a dumb person….I hope no one will take this article as a personal criticism – I’m attempting to criticize an idea here.”

 

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s get chatting!

 

 

Firstly, we would like to say what an outstanding post guys! To sum it up in one word… Agreed! For non-coeliac sufferers, the ‘gluten free diet’ is a fad.

You only need to enter the search terms: gluten free diet + weight loss into an internet browser to see how out of control another fad diet has become. Is it unprecedented? …No.

When it comes to nutrition people seem to think that just because we all eat, we can all be experts and everybody has an opinion and sometimes strong convictions. Unfortunately these opinions can be born out of ignorance and misinformation which is often the result of cyclic promotion amongst outspoken individuals, who resort to the online equivalent of playground yelling with their dime a dozen SEO snippets.

The truth of the matter is that there are too many people supplying us with unregulated health advice.

 

Gluten Free Diets And Weight Loss

Anyone opting for a ‘gluten free diet’ as a weight loss tool will ultimately lose weight by reducing kcals. Here’s what the British Dietetic Association (BDA) says in their article entitled “Top 5 Worst Celebrity Diets To Avoid in 2014” in which Gluten free Diet was number 3 “While important for those with coeliac disease … there is no credible published research showing that a gluten-free diet per se leads to weight loss in those without.”

 

What a gluten free diet can do is make it easier to lose weight because it can be very restrictive; but this isn’t a good thing:

1. A lot of people will cut out staple carbohydrate sources going down this path, e.g. pasta, breads, cereals etc. but do not find suitable replacements…possibly because they think they need to buy like-for-like (but GF products are pricy, so they don’t)…however, legumes, pulses, potatoes, millet, buckwheat, rice etc. are all naturally GF folks.

 

2. People typically end up cutting out a lot of processed foods in the process, e.g. all of their usual take-aways, cakes, biscuits and doughnuts etc. become off limits; empty calories that would normally expand anyone’s waistline become a thing of the past. However, there are always exceptions; people might substitute cakes for GF ones or make GF / ‘Paleo desserts’ themselves, some of which are full of coconut flour and sugar (this completely contradicts the Paleo diet in the first place!). We’re adamant that you wouldn’t see any cave men hunting ‘cakes’ or grinding up coconuts into flour and refining sugar in order to bake a cake in their imaginary ovens!

 

3. For reasons mentioned above! This new restrictive diet can be a tool for those with disordered eating behaviours (and possibly a full blown eating disorder) to fashionably lose weight under the pretence that they have gluten intolerance. Apart from medical professionals, who is willing or capable of challenging their views and diet? As one of these medical professionals I can tell you it’s not easy.

 

 

Responding To thecountyfare’s Article

Nutrition Is A Science…

(One that we have both studied) and it needs to be respected. We need to refer to evidence and studies to form relevant arguments and points as is made clear in the article by thecountyfare.

Frustratingly, even with the structured evidence that science provides, people will continue to have polarised views on what’s healthy and how they should live their lives; shutting down conversations that make them uncomfortable and/or where they are unable to back up their views with anything substantial and/or relevant.

Some people will unfortunately always argue science, even when it’s in black and white; a lot of people do not like facing change.  As mentioned, science isn’t perfect, nor does it have all the answers…but some people (when approached with new concepts) will always react as if there is some conspiracy taking place.

Most people are perfectly happy to use prescribed medications, despite the fact that almost all the research on them has been carried out by the companies that intend to sell them to us. So calling into question the ethics of researchers in nutritional subjects is a little hypocritical; whatever happened to approaching things carte blanche?

Understandably we should question the motives of the researchers and investigate possible vested interests, but it would be grossly unfair to dismiss out of hand decades of research just because of who may or may not have picked up the cheque.

 

‘Weight Loss And Feeling Better’

The ‘Paleo guy’ would have undoubtedly lost weight on a diet that was low kcal, low-fat, high protein and low G.I, and we’re sure he would have felt better (losing 60lbs would do that!).  However, the concept of feeling better than 10 years ago is such an ambiguous and subjective statement that it’s rendered almost meaningless; with the foibles that memory has, you can’t compare the state of your mind in this way over the course of one month let alone a decade.  This is one reason why subjective measurements in research are always considered second rate to physiological measurements, i.e. blood tests.  This is linked to the ‘nocebo effect’ that was discussed.

 

‘I’m Getting Everything I Need’

thecountyfare makes another good point, unless this guy has blood tests or strictly monitors and analyses his diet, he cannot evaluate his overall diet/health with confidence- no one can. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) will only request vitamin and mineral analysis on an ‘as needs basis’ and only if you can convince your GP, so the majority of people will not have these types of tests; you’ll be lucky if they go for routine blood tests. Unfortunately people seem to take matters into their own hands and do their best to avoid healthcare professionals and needles!

Now some people may use nutritional databases such as the USDA one here  and calculate their nutritional intake, but this is very time consuming and to further complicate matters there is the issue of bioavailability and optimal absorption;  put simply, this is how well micronutrients are digested and made available for use.

The body tightly regulates the absorption of some to prevent toxicity, which can mean high dose supplementation is a waste of money.  Even from food sources micronutrient absorption can be impaired by competing micronutrients and other foodstuffs, not to mention that some micronutrients come in different forms depending on the food they are found in and these forms are absorbed at different rates.  To call the matter complex is an understatement but it does highlight why you can’t be blasé when claiming ‘to get all you need’.

 

Gluten Free Promotion

The science is there to support why people need to be GF (as a coeliac) but not as a ‘gluten free fad’. As it stands, people’s lives seem to be governed by GF propaganda and overpriced GF products; there is no need for this. As thecountyfare mentioned, there seems to be a monopoly over who sells what.  It’s ridiculous how many GF products are now available; it’s true, companies saw a market and now they are cashing in… on people’s concerns and laziness.

These companies have also started producing products that are not only GF but dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and/or  Vegan (V) as well, in the hope that their products will ‘appear’ even healthier. Unfortunately some of us might not realise that something that is GF, DF, EF and/or V can still be unhealthy and inappropriate. This can confuse the matter and adds to these ‘diet trends’.

 

Seek Advice

Living in ignorance about your health isn’t bliss and nor is pretending you have all the answers. For example, a simple blood test for coeliac disease could provide a diagnosis (if someone has enough antibodies), but the gold standard is still a bowel biopsy (at least in the UK).

For those that have symptoms and are concerned, the worst course of action (as with all health conditions) is to self-diagnose and self-treat, due to the risk of misdiagnosis, e.g. putting yourself on a GF diet for six months and then paying a visit to your doctor to request blood tests. This would be an exercise in futility; blood tests would show a skewed result because there would be fewer antibodies present, giving you a false negative; this might result in you having a more cavalier approach to a GF diet, rather than the total exclusion required.

We’re not saying gluten intolerances do not exist and the studies mentioned in the article raise some interesting points (especially regarding FODMAPs), people just need to seek their healthcare professional’s advice. Unfortunately, using Google (other search engines are also available!), fad diet books or your own hypochondria to base health decisions on is not a great idea.  We agree that it’s incredibly irritating and potentially harmful if these people start spreading their misguided information regarding nutrition; this is where fads of eating 100 bananas a day come from. We wish people would stop producing ‘trendy diets’ and that celebrities could make do with one less wheelbarrow full of cash and stop endorsing them!

Coeliac disease is a complex topic, and one we won’t go into now; we plan to write about it on our own blog in the future.

 

Our Closing Thoughts

We would like to mention that we have never advocated a trending ‘gluten free diet’, but we do offer it as a choice through our recipes because as we have mentioned, coeliac disease is a very real condition. The quality of GF products haven’t been the best in the past and everyone should be encouraged to bake/cook from scratch (these are essential life skills for a healthy lifestyle/healthy living) whether you have a food allergy or not.

Adapting any alternative lifestyle (especially going WFPB) requires you to plan ahead; making sure your diet is nutritionally adequate. People need to reflect on the choices they make; are they making informed ones? …What is influencing their decisions?

Every pill, supplement or diet going isn’t necessary going to produce the life-changing results they desire, it may also be inappropriate and isn’t necessarily backed by scientific evidence; although companies like to take snippets from studies sometimes out of context to sell products.

 

So thecountyfare is right folks, tread with caution indeed.

 

Article written by:
Alex Risby BSc, RD and Lynn Risby BSc, Nutritionist