Crash diets and health fads are nothing new. I can remember my mother and grandmother sitting together at the kitchen table, discussing their attempts at losing weight by eating cabbage soup, grapefruits, even cleanses that combine water, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Needless to say, their weight shifted very little.
Today we have the internet, so food fads tend to circulate more readily than ever before. You don’t have to buy a book, or invest in a complicated system anymore. You can go to a blog, or join a Reddit subreddit or subscribe to a Facebook group. It is free, accessible and there is enough information for everyone to find the perfect health routine for themselves. Right?
Well, maybe not.
Yes, there is a lot of information out there. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it is all good. Health fads can still be misleading and it is hard to know which ones are worth adopting and which are should be avoided.
Let’s take a look at some of the popular health trends that people are swearing by.
The Paleo Diet
Based around the idea that early humans had a healthier and simpler diet, this is a way of eating that restricts processed foods and get’s the eater back to the basics: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits. These are the primary sources of nutrition in the Paleo diet. Though some Paleo followers still eat nuts and seeds, depending on how strictly they define the term “processed”. All grains and dairy are out.
The Good: The good thing about this diet is that it focuses on natural foods and good nutrition through plenty of vegetable and fruit consumption.
The Bad: While some will find success with this way of eating, many find it too restrictive and difficult to keep up with. Products that are “Paleo friendly” can also be incredibly expensive, so convenience isn’t really a part of the Paleo diet.
The Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic Diet is more vague and food-encompassing than the paleo diet, which can be confusing. At the heart, Keto just means cutting carbohydrates down to a very low amount (under 25 grams when you have subtracted dietary fiber from the gross carb amount), then replacing it with high fat (100 grams+) and moderate protein (60 – 80 grams). This leads to a chemical reaction known as ketosis, where the body begins to use fat as an energy source rather the glucose, or sugar.
The Good: Many users have found this an effective way to manage cravings and break free of sugar addiction.
The Bad: It is hard to sustain and for people with conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, it can make it difficult to control blood sugar levels for extended periods of time. The heavy amount of fat content may also be difficult for those who don’t process it well, especially if the user has a history of gallbladder problems.
Intermittent fasting can means several things, but ultimately it is setting certain periods where you “fast”, or avoid all solid foods. Clear liquids, such as water, sugar free sports drinks and broth are still allowed. Some people will do an 8/16 method, where they fast from 8 PM to noon the next day, giving them an eight hour window for eating daily. Others will choose a day or two per week to fast altogether.
The Good: There is some evidence that fasting has a number of health benefits. Users have used intermittent fasting to lower or maintain weight, manage blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and more.
The Bad: Some experts worry that this could encourage extreme behavior, particularly for those already struggling with disordered eating.
The gluten free movement has been controversial. For people with Celiac Disease, avoiding gluten is necessary to keep them from experiencing extreme symptoms, including intestinal damage. Others who do not test positive for Celiac have reported similar symptoms, though studies have not been able to prove that gluten is the cause. However, there is no strong evidence at this time that gluten free helps with weight loss in the average population.
The Good: The gluten free movement has offered a wider array of products for people with Celiac Disease to enjoy.
The Bad: There is no proof that eating gluten free for people without any intolerance conditions is healthier than eating gluten rich diets.
How To Eat Healthy (The Easy Way)
Let me make one thing clear: if something works for you, go with it. Different folks have different success rates with certain routines, so if Paleo or Keto or Vegetarianism or Veganism or No Carb or fasting to grapefruit diets work in your life, you do you, booboo! But for the rest of us, there is a very simple way to eat in a healthy way that doesn’t have to take over our entire lives.
Eat more vegetables.
I am serious, that is all you have to do. Don’t nix all your favorite junk food from your diet. Instead, incorporate more veggies and fill up on green foods instead of potato chips. Why? Because vegetables are a super food unlike any other. They give us the nutrients we need to operate to the best of our abilities. They nurture our minds and bodies. They fill us up.
A Few Simple Substitution Tips:
- If you want pizza for dinner, then order a pizza. But before the delivery man shows up, eat a plate of steamed broccoli. The doorbell rings and you get your prize. Sit down to eat and…the urge to binge is gone. You have a piece or two and put away the rest.
- Another helpful tip – order pizza loaded with veggies instead of excess cheese, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham, and chicken. Simple substitutes like this to your favorite foods can go a long way.
- The next time you go grocery shopping, pay attention to the nutrition labels. You can make easy substitute choices when selecting things like cereal, spaghetti sauce, bread, granola bars, and more from the center aisles of your grocery store by looking for items with less added sugar and fats.
Eating vegetables is the easiest way to curb binges, break cravings, fill you up and get what you need in your body to stay healthy. Pretty easy, huh?