8 Popular Diet Tips Nutritionists Think You Should Ignore
As new health research comes to light and we collectively begin to leave crash diets and outdated advice behind, it's important to redirect our wellness education. Over the last decade, with the wellness craze, self-care rhetoric, and every new diet under the sun touted as the next big thing, things have gotten confusing. No longer is artificial sweetener a recommended addition to our morning coffee and juice cleanses have (thankfully) been proven bullshit. Effective diets and delicious, nutrient-rich foods don't have to be mutually exclusive. But it's also difficult to parse through all the various new information with an understanding of what's real and what's propaganda.
It's because of these muddled waters, inconsistent messaging, and wholly unhealthy and unsustainable programs that we began to crave a new dieting regimen—one that is both easy to follow and good for our bodies. So we asked for help. Below, find eight popular diet tips to erase from your memory.
1. "Choose low-fat options."
"The recently published (and long-awaited) Pure Study includes people aged 35 to 70 years old from 18 countries across various regions including the Middle East, South America, Africa, China, North America and Europe, and South Asia," says holistic beauty nutritionist and Zea Skin Solutions co-founder Paula Simpson. "They looked at the links between diet, cardiovascular disease, and death. The findings? We eat too much sugar, and we're not eating enough fat." The authors of the study concluded, "The best diets will include a balance of carbohydrates and fats—approximately 50% to 55% carbohydrates and around 35% total fat, including both saturated and unsaturated fats."
"The body needs fat for brain and mental health, hormone balance, cellular integrity, smooth radiant skin, and as a source of fuel," Simpson explains. "Fats also help curb appetite and stabilise energy levels. Choose plant-based sources over animal products (or choose lean meat options like grilled chicken or fish)."
2. "Diet sodas are healthy."
"Think again," asserts Simpson. "Recent studies have shown diet soda consumption can negatively impact liver and gut health, promote weight gain, and increase risk to diabetes."
Instead, "if you're not a fan of plain water, try at-home carbonating machines and spritz it up. Add flavour with lemon, lime, frozen berries, cucumbers, and fresh herbs such as mint or rosemary or thyme."
3. "Juices can replace meals."
"Fresh juices can be a great way to amp up a dose of nutrition, but most of the fibre has been removed during the juicing process," warns Simpson. "It is the fiber that keeps you full for longer and helps manage energy levels and balances blood sugar levels."
Jillian Tuchman, MS, RD, head of nutrition and wellness at Care/of, agrees: "Green juice is a great way to get a ton of nutrients as part of a healthy diet that includes solid food. Juice cleanses often involve juices that contain a lot of sugar, sometimes as high as 40 grams, and that can spike your blood sugar. This prompts your body to pump out more insulin in order to bring it back to normal, but insulin also tells your body to store fat. Certainly, add a green juice—mostly veggies and maybe half of a green apple for taste—to your diet, but don't swap everything else out."
"If you don't have a mixer that can include all components of fruits and vegetables in the juice, try a smoothie instead," Simpson adds. "If you do juice, try it in between meals to revitalise the mind and body."
4. "Cut out sugar and replace it with artificial sweeteners."
Don't assume artificial sweeteners are healthy for you just because they don't have calories. Artificial sweeteners can trick your body into producing insulin and storing extra fat, which isn't great news. They can also mess up your gut's microbiome, which can affect your skin health and your immune system. Swap artificial sweeteners with a little liquid stevia, raw honey, or pure maple syrup.
5. "If one fad diet isn't working for you, just try a new one."
"It might be tempting to try whatever diet is popular right now, but what's trendy might not be ideal for your body," explains Tuchman. "Your needs are unique. It's important to pay attention to what works best for you and pursue your individual track. In the same way, make sure you're giving your body what it needs in terms of the nutrients that help you feel your best. Care/of makes it easy to figure out what those are—you just take a quiz and are then recommended a unique set of vitamins and supplements based on the health concerns and goals that are on your mind."
6. "Add a cheat day to your restrictive diet."
"Cheat days reinforce the idea that certain foods are off limits while you're trying to lose weight, which can ultimately derail your healthy plans," says Tuchman. "Try journaling what you eat. You'll be able to see more clearly what foods make you feel full and healthy and what foods throw you off. It's so much better to eat a few squares of dark chocolate every day if that makes you feel nourished than to eat a whole box of doughnuts on your cheat day."
7. "Eat steamed veggies and poached chicken to be healthy."
"Healthy food does not need to mean boring food—in fact, a boring diet can be hard to sustain long term," suggests Tuchman. "It's healthier to try to make your food more fun, even beautiful. Toss a bunch of colourful veggies in high-quality oil with spices and roast them. Sprinkle your food with edible flowers. Throw in a bunch of textured multigrains. Eating food that tastes as good as it looks is important to making your body and mind feel nourished."
8. "Buy clothes that are too small as motivation to lose weight."
"A big component of behavioral change is acceptance of where you are right now," Tuchman says, "and that extends to your current jean size. Having a closet filled with clothes that don't fit can perpetuate feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness—and it's possible that those feelings are what's driving emotional eating. Try to fit in some moments of mindfulness throughout your day, whether that's taking a walk without your cell phone or meditating, to focus on the present and your progress so far."