New Year, New Diet? Read this First!
Wed, 26 December 2012 2:00PM
Some of us manage to balance a diet with precision; no sugar, minimal salt, good fats, greens and grains…you get the picture.
And it’s a lovely picture. Worth hanging if you ask me, but the reality is that cracks can show and this ideal image can slip.
Coming into 2013, I hope we all have good intentions to eat better. We have had enough education about the ills of preservatives and all that palaver to keep us reading food labels from here to the next Christmas.
But eliminating the foods we think are not doing us any favours is not the answer to our dietary dilemmas. In fact, the Australasian College of Natural Therapies (ACNT) warns that fad diets and superfood trends could actually be putting Australians at risk of malnutrition.
Head of Academic Studies in Natural Therapies, Teresa Mitchell-Paterson explains that the college and its network of nutrition graduates have identified a growing trend in self-diagnosed food intolerances and an increase in crash diets and fad food trends.
“The phrase ‘online doctor’ yields more than 528 million search results on Google, suggesting there is a high demand for online medical advice,” says Mitchell-Paterson. Any radical change to a person’s diet can have a significant impact on their health, she says. “Eliminating entire food groups, or taking a cocktail of vitamins can be extremely dangerous and can even cause long-term damage to vital organs.”
Sound familiar? Off the top of my (relatively intelligent and informed) head, I can recall ditching bread, rice, sugar, chocolate, wine, coffee, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, milk, gluten, carbohydrates, white anything, yoghurt, citrus, cheese and yeast at some stage of my adulthood.
Why? Well I, like many of us, was getting mixed messages online and through conversations. What was right for me? Mitchell-Paterson says an expert is the only one who holds the answer.
“Obviously there is a lot of information at our disposal on the internet, but what people forget it that this isn’t always suitable for each individual. The only way to be sure about what’s best for you is to seek advice from a professional and avoid the unqualified advice of Dr Google altogether,” says Connolly. “You don’t need to be sick to seek professional advice on nutrition. Many of my clients are simply confused about whether to eat goji berries, drink lemon tea or dose up on vitamins. The truth is that everyone is unique and different bodies have different nutritional demands,” she says.
Here are the guidelines to follow before you even consider streamlining your diet for the New Year:
1. Get the right advice. If you want to change your diet, seek advice from a naturopath or nutritionist. Ensure they are fully recognised by industry bodies such as the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.
2. Balanced is best. It’s great to try new things, but an unsupervised, elimination style diet can lead to malnutrition, so it’s important to maintain a balanced diet.
3. One step at a time. It’s important not to get caught up in the ‘fads’ or adopt multiple changes at once. Many of these trends have contradicting qualities, making it impossible to pin point the benefits, or any bad reactions you may experience.
4. Nature’s way. Dietary supplements are just that: a supplement. They should not replace good eating habits as natural fats and antioxidants in fruit and vegetables also ensure the vitamins are absorbed by the body.
5. Sleep. Aim for eight hours of it every night. Low energy levels are often mistaken for vitamin deficiencies, and dosing up on supplements won’t help.
Posted by: ecb