Fad Diets have existed since I can remember and I’m sure they have a much longer history than that. Why do we have fad diets?

One reason might be that new discoveries about how the body works were made and these led to new theories about diet. Or, someone claims to have found a better theory than the previous ones based on the results. In either case, we really need to know about the research and how it was conducted and who sponsored it.

Another reason for diet fads is that someone popularizes a theory so they can cash in on the false data that is circulated in order to take advantage of people’s desire to improve their health and physical condition. The key term is usually CASH IN.

For instance, I wonder how many people know that gluten is the protein part of the plant? Funny that many say gluten is “bad,” yet we push for high protein. Which industries have a vested interest in promoting high protein and gluten free?

Dietary approaches to real medical conditions can turn into diet fads

Diet theories are often about weight-loss, but they can also be about things like diabetes, Celiac disease or other medical conditions that require a certain eating regimen. One example is gluten intolerance. I’m no expert, but I do know that one condition alone has created a Pandora’s box of theories, opinions and marketing ploys.

For example, there are people who truly have a gluten intolerance. They can’t digest gluten and get sick when they consume it. I know someone like that. A very small percent of people truly can’t consume gluten. Like my friend, if you have Celiac disease or allergies to wheat and other foods containing gluten, you really do have to be vigilant about avoiding gluten.

The Gluten-free Fad

But what about the rest of the gluten-free crowd? Why is “Gluten-Free” one of today’s biggest fads? You see a growing list of packaging marked gluten-free, restaurant menus with gluten-free choices, books and articles about the evils of gluten. For the small percent with real gluten intolerance, this is very helpful. But what about the rest of us? Gluten has gotten a very bad rap in modern society.

U.S. News & World Report reported a study in June 2015 that revealed,

“. . . 86 percent of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it. Individuals with Celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune condition that affects about 3 million Americans, or roughly 1 percent of the population, must avoid gluten. Those with extremely rare wheat allergies must also remove gluten from their diet. In addition, those with gluten sensitivity, a condition that affects 6 percent of the population (18 million individuals), should also avoid gluten.”

According to this study thirty percent of shoppers are choosing gluten-free products and a whopping forty-one percent of U.S. adults believe “gluten-free” foods are good for them and for everyone else. They don’t really know if it is or isn’t good, but they believe it.

This makes no sense at all! Gluten-free foods are usually higher in sugar, sodium and fat. Most of these consumers are not claiming to have Celiac disease, but many decide they are sensitive to wheat and gluten. Where did this thinking come from?

In his March 2013 newsletter, diet and nutritional expert Dr. John McDougall explains:

“Because this condition is so non-specific, my guess is that most of these people are simply sick from their unhealthful diet of meat, dairy foods, vegetable oils, and other junk food. Blaming gluten or wheat is wrong, and as a result, their efforts on gluten-free eating are misplaced. Benefits seen while attempting any new more restrictive diet regimen are from simply removing foods recognized to be unhealthful, irrelevant to their containing gluten or not.”

There have been many popular publications, such as the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis that took off like a rocket and influenced people to blame wheat and/or gluten on their unhealthy physical conditions.

The truth is that eating a gluten-free diet can be a cause for weight-gain, obesity and reduced health caused by lack of essential whole foods because it steers people away from starches. Yet it is promoted as a healthy weight-loss regimen.

Starches satisfy the appetite and lack of starches easily leads to overeating. If you’re not eating starches such as whole grains and starchy vegetables then you are likely going to choose diet fads that are based on eating “low-carb” i.e. Atkins, Paleo or Keto. Or, you have read about Atkins, Paleo and Keto, you decided to follow them, and your decision is boosted by the gluten-free fad.

It is circular reasoning and doesn’t lead to any stable, knowledgeable and correct conclusions. As many have said before me, people love to hear good news about their bad habits.

Know how the Human Body Works

The key to understanding what is true and what is not true about food and diets is to understand how the body works. Understand what the true history of the human species is regarding food. Were we hunters or gatherers? What is the evidence?

When you read one of these fad diet theories, did you understand the research and did you understand how it was done and who had a vested interest in making you believe the conclusions? Did the conclusions make sense according to how the human body really works?

When you practice the program, is it highly workable in the short term and the long term? You’ve heard all about the benefits. What about negative effects if any. Again, if you know the basics of how your body works, you will be better able to make a wise decision.

I would love to hear your opinion about this. Let’s get the conversation started about fad diets!

Energy. Life. Crunch.

I have started this post four or five times. Each time I tried to work out an approach to what I wanted to say and each time it got really complicated really fast and then I didn’t want to finish it.

New approach. Cut to the chase.

No matter what your dietary habits are, or what diet you are trying to follow, you aren’t eating enough vegetables.

I’m on a lot of social network pages, YouTube, and blogs about healthy food and healthy cooking. Everyone likes to post a special dessert, or a bread that doesn’t have this or that in it, or a hearty thick soup or stew. Anything rich and usually heavier in calorie density than veggies. That is “what sells.” That is what people are looking for.

Keto? My keto friends are all about the meat, the butter, the cheese, the fat, the protein. What else is recommended by those promoting keto diets? Lots and lots of vegetables. And there are some awesome vegetable and salad dishes in keto cookbooks!

I would never do keto because it is the opposite of healthy in my opinion. But what makes it REALLY bad is when keto is practiced without enough vegetables. I have one friend who told me her keto guru recommends seven servings of veggies a day. I would think you would have to eat at least that many veggies in order to survive keto at all!

Keto without enough vegetables is downright dangerous.

Even the whole food plant based, vegan and macrobiotic people are shy in the vegetable department. I see it all the time.

I am not saying “vegetables are more important than grains, fruits, legumes, etc.” I’m simply saying we aren’t eating enough vegetables!

If you are any kind of healthy food enthusiast at all, I’m sure you can name half a dozen qualities that vegetables bring to the table. Fiber. Phytonutrients. Minerals. Vitamins. Chlorophyll (if they’re green). Energy. Life. Crunch.

I’m guilty too. When I’m hungry and getting some leftovers out of my refrigerator, I’m not usually reaching for the steamed kale, the cucumber salad or the stir-fried veggies. I started thinking back over each day and looking at what vegetables I actually did eat. It is never enough. I will find myself going for the other stuff, getting too full and the vegetables come home in the container they were in that morning.

What about a vegetable smoothie? Better than no vegetables at all, but you are going to lose that crunch factor and you won’t get the same benefit from the fiber, even with high powered blenders that pulverize whole veggies.

Who needs crunch? Everybody.

Why? because chewing is so important! Chewing is the start of digestion as the food is mixed with saliva. It prepares the food for proper absorption. It signals the stomach for what’s coming down the hatch. It is a key element of great health. My sister and mother used to say, “Eat your liquids and drink your food.” They were right! But hardly anybody chews that well. You watch people and see.

Even the United States government recommends eating five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The US says a “serving” is a cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups of leafy vegetables. It is fantastic that they are saying this! I never thought I’d see the day! There is no one who wouldn’t benefit from eating even the minimum five servings every single day.

Challenge: For the next week, honestly take a count of how many servings of vegetables you are eating each day. I’ll do the same and we can compare notes.