Are you feeling a little confused by all those helpful ‘facts’ and ‘guidelines’ that seem to change with the wind? Us too. There’s nothing like conflicting advice, loud opinions and sometimes downright scaremongering to make your head spin. Enough already!
Common sense to the rescue
While it’s natural to wonder if you are doing the right thing, it’s also important to keep things in perspective. So, when next confronted by an alarming headline or bold new health claim, grab yourself a big ol’ grain of salt, take a deep breath and ask yourself a few pertinent questions. (Hint: trust your instincts.)
Where did you read/hear about it? A friend’s blog post or status update may not be the most reliable source. Ditto a sensationalist tabloid magazine, newspaper, TV show or website that’s gunning for sales, viewers or clicks.
What’s the evidence for the claim? Is it from an accredited, independent body backed by respected scientific studies and trials? Is it supported by more than one source or study? Thanks to the anonymity the internet affords, anyone can say pretty much anything and get their message out, regardless of its legitimacy.
Is the information based on as yet unproven research? It’s not uncommon for media outlets to gain access to early data and spin it into a catchy headline or sound bite.
Does the information or claim seem too good to be true? If it’s promising results via a magic pill or similar scam-like plan, it’s wise to be wary.
Who’s behind the claim? Is it coming from someone with an agenda to push? This can be tricky to verify, especially when it comes to major corporations or individuals who are passionate about certain subjects and who want to share their wisdom. ‘Celebrity’ doctors are a good example! This doesn’t mean the information isn’t credible or valuable, just that it’s important to do a little sleuthing before jumping on board.
Perhaps most importantly, if you were to jump on board, how realistic and practical is it for you? Is it sustainable? What are the personal positives and negatives? Will it bring you improved physical and/or emotional wellbeing? That’s the true benchmark. If the answer is yes, then go for it! There’s nothing to lose.
So which current bandwagons are worth jumping on? We’ve checked out a few we think have merit; ones that are essentially about clean eating and harm minimisation. Always a good thing!
Fat or no fat?
Turns out the fat-free era didn’t bring the relief from obesity and illness we hoped for – in fact, it appears to have made things worse. We need dietary fat, including a little saturated fat, for healthy brain and cell function and, importantly, to feel like we have actually eaten something! Fat-free ‘diet’ foods are often loaded with sugar and/or other mysterious synthetic additives that do nothing to promote health. Yes, fat contains more calories, but it’s also more filling so you eat less of it. Come back butter, all is forgiven!
The raw food movement believes our food should be as close to nature as possible, and that cooking can destroy essential nutrients, proteins and enzymes, placing stress on the immune system. One of the best things about raw is it’s a great way to eliminate processed foods from your diet. It can be hard work, so start out small. Visit The Raw Food Institute website at therawfoodinstituteofaustralia.com
Certified organic produce is guaranteed to be free of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Meat, poultry, eggs and dairy are antibiotic- and growth-hormone free – hard to argue with that! A few worth buying include beef, apples, grapes, celery, tomatoes, spinach and milk. Not so critical are thicker-skinned fruits like pineapple, watermelon and bananas, along with onions, eggs and frozen fruits and veg.
Do you have coeliac disease or other diagnosed gluten intolerance? If yes, going gluten free is necessary for quality of life. However, many experts now believe everyone would benefit from removing gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye and barley from their diets. Is it true? If you try it and feel better for it, as many do, it might make sense for you. It’s worth noting that whole grains including quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff and buckwheat don’t contain gluten, making them great, healthful substitutes.