Just like bell-bottoms of the 70s, big hair of the 80s and flannel shirts of the 90s, foods choices can be trendy too. Like a wave across time, different eating habits have ebbed and flowed with popular culture. The Ketogenic diet is popular today, but it has been used since 1930 to treat Epilepsy in children. What was once old is new and trendy again.
If you've ever inhaled a box of SnackWells low-carb cookies in the name of health, you've been a victim of food trends. It was trendy at the time to avoid carbs, but not yet trendy to avoid processed foods, so many people (including me in the 90s) mistakenly believed that a low-carb cookie was a healthy choice. It's easy to see today the flaws in the trends of the past, so it can be helpful to look at the trends of today to review both the positive and negative aspects so that we can take the best of them and discard what's not useful.
It's essential to keep in mind that no one best diet works for everyone. The key to a healthy diet is sustainability. Instead of starting and stopping various diets, which often leads to weight loss and regain, it's better to find a healthy eating style that works best in your lifestyle long-term. Trends aren't bad in themselves, positive and helpful ideas can be trendy. If you evaluate both the good and the bad, you can make the best choices for yourself and your family.
TREND #1 SUGAR IS THE DEVIL
There was a time that fat was the evil culprit of fat gain, then it was carbs, now it seems to be sugar.
Too much added sugar could be detrimental to health and it is best to be aware of, and limit added sugars in your diet.
Can lead to avoidance of naturally-occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables which provide healthy nutrients.
HOW TO BALANCE IT
Limit added sugars in low-nutrient junk foods and processed foods and consume your daily sugars from natural sources that provide needed vitamins and minerals.
TREND #2 HIGH PROTEIN IS BEST
Extremely high protein diets are especially trendy in the weightlifting community where recommendations often far exceed the body's needs.
Protein consumption is necessary to build and maintain muscle tissue. Strength and endurance athletes need a higher amount of protein than a person living a sedentary lifestyle.
A high-protein diet may not have enough variety or be nutrient-dense if not combined with other macronutrients. Could be negative if the protein is consumed mainly from powders and processed foods like bars and shakes.
HOW TO BALANCE IT:
Consume adequate amounts of protein for your activity level, mostly from natural sources and balance with fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats.
TREND #3 LOW-CARB/HIGH-FAT
Many people experience quick weight loss from an initial loss of water on a low-carb diet. It can be motivating to see fast results and may propel additional positive actions towards weight loss goals. Some have found that reducing carbs helps minimize cravings and hunger.
Potentially could be missing fiber in the diet. It may be hard for some people to maintain long-term. Some people experience low energy. Fat has more than twice the calories per gram than carbohydrates, so it can be easy to over-consume and stall fat loss if not tracking.
HOW TO BALANCE
Many people thrive on a low-carb and high-fat diet. Consume your limited carbs and high fats from whole-natural food sources. Time carb consumption before and after exercise for fuel and to restore muscle glycogen. Watch your calorie intake to ensure your overall calorie consumption matches your goals, whether for fat loss, weight maintenance or muscle growth.
TREND #4 ONLY CALORIES MATTER
This trend says that you can eat whatever you like, junk food included, as long as you stay within your calorie requirements.
Effective in weight management to focus on calorie consumption. A diet that includes junk food can feel less restrictive and easier to maintain.
You may miss out on needed nutrients for health when only focusing only on calories. Extra care needs to be applied to ensure that you are consuming adequate vitamins and minerals.
HOW TO BALANCE:
It's ok to focus on the pleasure of food, but work to marry taste with nutrition. Allow yourself the treats you enjoy in moderation while also ensuring you are getting whole-food nutrition from a variety of healthful sources. The key is to aim to get more nutrients for fewer calories.
TREND #5 CLEAN EATING MOVEMENT
Nearly everyone would benefit from consuming a wide variety of whole, minimally processed foods derived from nature.
"Clean" eating is undefined and is interpreted in different ways: some say it means unprocessed foods, some say no dairy or grains, while others define it as no animal products. When taken to the extremes it can lead to disordered eating or a disordered relationship with food, if guilt and shame are attached to eating foods that are not 'clean' or if foods are unnecessarily restricted.
HOW TO BALANCE:
Aim to eat whole, minimally processed foods from nature as often as possible, but allow the treats that you enjoy in moderation. Try not to look at foods as good or bad, clean or dirty, but on a continuum and work to make the best choices that are available to you in the situation without judgment.
If you have found one of these trends works for you for your long-term health, then the trend has served you well. I am not here to say that one way of eating is superior to another but to challenge you to think through the potential positives and negatives of your choices, so then you can make the best decision for yourself. You are an individual and nutrition is about finding what is healthy, sane, and sustainable for you.
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