I find that most
members of the public are confused when it comes to nutrition and making
sensible food choices, and in my practice I have become quite accustomed to statements like: “I don’t know what I should be eating and what a
healthy diet is – no two nutrition professionals agree on what a healthy diet
Consensus does exist
what many people believe, there is
consensus among global health experts as to what constitutes a healthy diet, and it is based on scientific
findings. The notion that no two nutrition experts agree with each other, or
that they change their opinions every few months is simply not true.
In fact, the establishment of the True Health Coalition has brought together leading experts in the health
and diet field, ranging from advocates of veganism to paleo diets – and even
these experts agree on key nutrition principles, i.e. that we need to eat a diet
that is made up of generally plant predominant foods in balanced combinations
(like the Mediterranean populations), using minimally processed foods. These are key factors listed by the True
Health Coalition in the “Forks” section of the recommendations.
Read: Exercise helps us eat a healthy diet
In a paper
published in the Annual Review of Public Health authors noted that compatible
elements across a vast variety of various “fad diets” indicate that we
- Limit refined
carbohydrates and added sugars.
fats that have the most health benefits, namely monounsaturated fats.
- Include whole plant
foods, particularly vegetables, with or without the inclusion of lean meats,
fish, poultry and seafood.
Why then the confusion?
The false perception that nutrition
experts don't agree on nutritional recommendations is often created by
proponents of fad diets who benefit by sowing seeds of doubt regarding nutritional
science. Dr James Hamblin sums it up
as follows: “The formula for a bestselling diet book is: lay claim to a
revelation, cite the literature selectively to back up your argument, ignore
all evidence to the contrary, offer up a scapegoat, silver bullet, or both – and
whatever you do, that the only way to get the benefits of eating well
and exercising is to actually eat well and exercise.”
Read: Why fad diets flop
unfortunate truth is that when an individual is not well, overweight,
chronically ill etc., they are vulnerable and desperate and will believe and
try any dietary guidance or new product/tablet. By going back to the
fundamentals of a healthy diet, we can shift health outcomes. The current global health crisis is not due to the lack of knowledge
about what we should be eating, but rather the failure to convert what we do
know into practice. Healthy eating habits therefore need to become the norm to produce a positive health shift.
As a dietitian,
my goal is to see my patients gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of nutrition, so that when they are faced with the next fad
diet book or new "superfood" they have the necessary knowledge to
discern fact from fiction.
Healthy eating key to healthy lifestyle
Fad diets: dangers to avoid
Forget fad diets and eat less