I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
I once saw a magazine cover showing a man’s head made up of an assortment of fruits and vegetables. The caption read, “You are what you eat.” It was a simple, but effective, way to illustrate how the food we put into our bodies can affect the way we look and feel.
That picture would look much different today.
The theme for many of our current eating trends is, “You are what you don’t eat.” This includes many fads, such as detox cleanses, not eating anything that cavemen didn’t eat and going gluten free, lactose free or GMO-free.
What people may not realize when they adopt one of these fads is that there are sometimes unintended consequences. For example, eliminating some types of foods from the diet can also result in eliminating certain valuable nutrients that the body needs; or the omitted foods might be replaced with ones that are no better, or even worse.
Moderation is the Key
Practically every food you can think of has been on a “Do Not Eat” list at some point in time. Red meat, butter and eggs have been there and so have white bread, potatoes and sugar. Even ingredients we consume in tiny amounts that have undergone rigorous safety reviews by experts from around the world, like low calorie sweeteners, have come under criticism without justification. (Read more about the safety of the low calorie sweetener, sucralose, in my previous blog, “Is SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (Sucralose) Safe? Authorities We Can Trust.”)
Fortunately, once all the excitement created by the headlines dies down, people often realize that fads are often not based in good science, and that they do not have to give up the foods they love to be healthy. Any food can be included in a balanced diet as long as it is eaten in moderation. And even though there are rigorous processes in place to ensure that ingredients used in food are safe, no food or beverage can be consumed in unlimited quantities and still be good for you.
Nutrition Knowledge is Expanding
The study of human nutrition is a relatively young science so we don’t have all the answers yet, but we know much more today than we did 50 years ago. As our understanding of the way in which nutrients affect our health expands, we should be prepared to make adjustments in what and how much we eat to incorporate the new knowledge. But this is a gradual process and rarely requires the complete removal of any food from our diets.
That is why I have always advised my clients not to eliminate anything they normally eat unless it is a medical necessity. Instead, the goal is to keep as much variety in our meal plans as possible to benefit from all that we do not yet know. By doing that, the image of “you are what you eat” will change over time as more and more foods get added to the picture. By not doing that, the image might disappear!
For more information, read “Staying Away from Fad Diets” by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.