Don’t Follow Blindly When It Comes to Diets (Or Anything, Really)

"Lleyn sheep" by User:Jackhynes - Own work Cropped and tuned in Picasa.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lleyn_sheep.jpg#/media/File:Lleyn_sheep.jpg
“Lleyn sheep” by User:Jackhynes – Own work Cropped and tuned in Picasa.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lleyn_sheep.jpg#/media/File:Lleyn_sheep.jpg

Today I want to talk about diets.

I don’t mean what you eat on a daily basis, but fad diets. There are a billion of them out there, everyone knows someone that’s on one, and they get you because they tell you how easy it is to lose weight. The difference between a diet and a lifestyle is that when you’re on a diet, it’s short term. There’s often a period of restriction and elimination of certain foods. There may be special shakes or meals you need to buy. There may be a “detox” period.

Here’s a quick rule of thumb about fad diets:

If you need to buy something in order to participate (book/shakes/special containers for food/mail order dinners), it’s a fad.

Do you need to read a book that explains the “philosophy” of the diet? Does it come with a separately purchased cookbook? Fad.

Do you need to eliminate large food groups in order to “detox” your body? Fad.

Do you need to stick your food in little color coordinated containers? Fad.

Look. Yes, some of these diets work. They do! But can you live with them for the rest of your life? Some people may be able to. Some diets may even work for specific people with specific medical conditions.

But do you know anyone who watched a documentary and suddenly decided that a juice diet was the solution to all their problems? Or someone who decided, without a doctor’s advice, that cutting gluten out of their diet was a good idea, because “wheat is evil”?

http://www.wit.edu/Counseling/wellness/fad-diets.htmlI’m all for eating as many whole foods that I cook at home as possible. I try to limit my processed foods. But I don’t totally avoid entire food groups like grains or dairy. Why? Because I have no reason to. I don’t have any food allergies. If you DO have food allergies, than by ALL MEANS eliminate those foods. A good friend of mine has Celiac Disease, and eaten gluten is a major no no, because it causes inflammation and vilious atrophy, and is a serious condition. The ONLY treatment for this is a lifelong gluten-free diet. But not everyone has Celiac. True wheat allergy is thought to be even more rare than Celiac, and gluten sensitivity is thought to be grossly overdiagnosed. If you believe you have any of these, you should see a doctor and be tested. Don’t just read some website on the internet and follow a trend. Remember what happened in the story of the lemmings? Here are some links about Celiac:

9 Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten Free 

Who Really Needs a Gluten Free Diet?

The Journal of Gastroenterology

http://fabfoodforlife.com/want-gluten-free/A lot of websites I won’t name here provide long manifesto-like articles on why one food or another is bad for us, or is “killing us” but then doesn’t provide a single scientific reference to a study. Other sites claim to be able to fix all your problems for the low low price of 19.99/month, and you have to pay before they’ll reveal their secrets.

elronds-facepalmI actually witnessed a discussion on Facebook this morning where a woman describes her CHIROPRACTOR advising against eating grains. She then linked to an article he wrote about leaky gut syndrome. Which includes NO REFERENCES. I checked his credentials. Oh, he’s not a Registered Dietitian or even a Nutritionist. (Don’t know the difference? Read this.) Last time I checked, a chiropractor specializes in the neuromusculoskeletal system, not nutrition. Unless a doctor specializes in nutrition, they are probably deficient in nutrition training (hey LOOK, a REFERENCE). Hey look, another reference, with its own references: should you avoid grains?

So how do you prevent yourself from falling into the trendy trap?

  1. If you know more than 5 people talking about a diet, it’s probably a fad.
  2. If you read an article that tells you a food is bad, but provides no references, move along.
  3. If someone tells you you cut a complete food group out of your diet, and that person is not a Registered Dietitian, get a second opinion.
  4. If you think you have a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance, check with a doctor and get tested.
  5. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. It’s not any more complicated than Googling a topic and reading up on it, preferably articles from medical journals, scientific studies or anything with ACTUAL REFERENCES. It’s your life, your body, and your health you’re holding in your hands. Don’t let someone else tell you what to put in it or not put in it unless they’re adequately qualified.

And yes, I even mean don’t take my word on it.

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10 comments

  1. Amen. I’m not sure we can give up anything (say, in this case eating more than we should) without
    taking up something else (like maybe exercising in some form) to replace it. Finding something you
    like to do and then enjoying doing it seems to be the key. Take what you love and do it. (Of course,
    what’s added into that simple solution is unexpected illness, aging and hormones, and . . . . stress!)
    Rest and get up the next day to do the best you can. And remember to be happy with that. It also
    helps to have a pet who loves you just the way you are – just ask Bing 😉

    Like

  2. SD- You are so SMART! I totally agree with everything you said-especially this gluten phase, gaaahhh……. When it comes right down to it, it’s hard work and watching what you eat, period. There is no quick fix, never was, never will be. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A well balanced diet (what we eat every day), everything in moderation, drink lots of water, a daily constitutional (walk!). Hell, some people who live the longest attribute their longevity to that 3 fingers of bourbon a day!! I’m all for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree, mostly, but, you know I can’t keep my big mouth shut when the words gluten sensitivity enter the conversation. It’s a major point of contention for me (and in my gastro’s words “if you feel better without gluten, you shouldn’t eat it.” Literally, it’s that simple.). I test negative for celiac, and negative for wheat allergy, yet, gluten impairs my breathing and ravages my digestive tract.

    So, I’d Argentina that technically, it’s impossible to say it’s overdiagnosed. It’s equally impossible to say it’s underdiagnosed. There is no test for it, so I would argue that, by current science it can’t be over or under anything: it is flat out undiagnosable. All that science can prove is that it is a mechanism separate from celiac disease with no known cause and that removing gluten improves quality of life. Why that works? No one knows, and until we have gluten testing that is a more evolved science than pin the tail on the donkey, anyone who has a hard and fast opinion either way is talking out of their ass, quite frankly.

    That said, people who cut gluten “to lose weight”, need to stfu, because those of us with legitimate issues get a lot of flack because of their nonsense.

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      • Technically, the internet told me it was a possible cause of the problem, so I tried an elimination diet on my own, and my doctor agreed with me since it’s impossible to argue with results. Lol.

        So, it’s more like I told my doctor, who then said, ‘yup. If you feel better, that’s definitely it.’

        A doctor was involved, yes, but I do not deny I totally self diagnosed, starting with the simplest possibilities and working my way up to the most complicated until I found something that worked. Obviously, you want to rely on your doctor, but sometimes you can’t wait around for your health to get bad enough for them to find the problem and you end up better off doing some sensible googling and self-treating.

        So, yeah, my docs agree with me, but after the fact. They wouldn’t have figured it out if I didn’t point them in the right direction. But, there is a difference between sensible googling and internet hypochondria. I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t allergies because allergy meds did nothing. It wasn’t strictly reflux (which I also self-diagnosed, and my doc also agreed with me on. I had a history of responding well to reflux meds when my sinuses got bad, so it was kind of a no-brainer.), because the prescription meds were only partially helping and they kept upping my dosage because it wasn’t ever enough. My case was an act of desperation. Eliminating gluten for a month wasn’t going to cause any lasting damage, so I took a chance and tried it. It turned out to be the ticket. That’s the only sure fire way to diagnose a gluten problem anyway. I could have waited for the doctor to tell me to try going gluten free and see what happens, but it was an unnecessary delay when I had all the information to attempt a course of treatment with zero chance of harming me if it didn’t work. If it didn’t work, I could go back on gluten and move on to the next maybe. If it did, mystery solved. You can have all the medical degrees in the world; if your patient, who’s been having breathing problems comes in and says ‘so, I cut gluten as an experiment and can breathe again, and I haven’t been puking as much’, and you can see the evidence of that as a doctor, well, then your patient made your job easy, really.
        I don’t promote using Google in lieu of medical professionals, but I equally don’t promote sitting around and suffering needlessly when there is information that may be able to help you, and the potential treatment is risk free.

        Like

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