Diet advice is everywhere we look in our modern society. This is not a new thing. Diets have been part of the media for decades. There's always a new diet that everyone needs to follow to look a certain way, feel a certain way, or increase your life expectancy. It is important to understand this is probably not going away anytime soon. It is interesting how important diet is, how much diet will dictate people’s health, and how much people internalize their understanding of nutrition, then spread the message as if they are an expert in the area. This post is about reading through these blurred lines of nutrition, seeing that there are great diets out there and terrible diets out there. Knowing that just because it may be a great diet for some people does not mean it is a great diet for you.
For starters, everyone is different, but across groups of people, you will find similarities. One of those needs would be similar dietary needs. For example, populations that suffer from celiac disease share a dietary need of avoiding gluten. For this population, a healthy diet starts with the need to avoid foods which contain gluten. Initially, a diet void of gluten was one that was away from processed foods and sweets. A whole food diet with a focus on fruits, vegetables, certain grains that don't contain gluten, and various protein sources. This then grew to include alternate baked goods and processed foods made to be gluten free. What happens next is the spin I caution for any diet follower. The public saw positive effects from a gluten free diet, and with the help of uneducated nutrition advice, spun a gluten free diet as a health trend that the public went wild over. Celebrities were now gluten free; gluten free products were building in variety on all grocery shelves, and guess what? People were not seeing the results they had hoped for. Why is that?????? Well its simple, the wrong populations were eating a diet they thought was healthy for them because they read it in media resources and got it all wrong. Those who truly needed a diet void of gluten saw the benefit but that was about it. There were 2 breakdowns here: First, the original diet void of gluten had grown to incorporate processed gluten free crap. It’s the same as regular processed crap, just no gluten. Second, the wrong population was trying to use a gluten free diet to achieve results from a diet that was not ideal for their body.
So, after all this ranting let’s get back to the topic at hand: How to read through the diets in the media.
1. Ask yourself what your goals are for wanting to follow this diet and be honest. Look into it, and answer this question with detail.
2. Do you have health conditions that would respond well to this diet? If you do not know, consult an expert, not your friends or the magazine writer, but a real expert, a registered dietitian.
3. Does this seem too good to be true? If yes, it is probably a bunch of lies.
4. Keep in mind, the food industry is a cash flow business and any area to make more money for these companies is exploited.
5. Is this diet one you can follow for the rest of your life or is this a crash diet you will follow for a few weeks then jump off?
6. There is no magic pill, do not wait for a magic pill. Eat what makes you feel good physically, not always emotionally.
7. Ask yourself if you even like the foods that you will be eating if you follow this diet. Are you going to enjoy your food selection?
8. Last, but not least, DO NOT follow a diet because everyone else is.