Like any year, 2015 contained its share of food and diet fads (those based on no credible scientific research). With the exposure of media and social media, it’s hard to keep up and separate the helpful from the not so helpful and often damaging advice. I thought it would be useful to compile a list of food/diet fads and nutrition trends that appeared throughout the year as another way to help clear up misconceptions and redirect you to what matters in nutrition…..everything in moderation and the non-diet approach to health.
Why do we buy into food fads or trends? I find it problematic when people believe so much in the newest diet or nutrition trend that they attempt to influence other people by making out there is a solid scientific foundation/research behind it when in fact there’s little more than testimonials. As with any field, it is very important that those providing advice are qualified to do so.
If you choose to eat or believe this way, you do that but when you are potentially affecting the health of others with your beliefs, you need to stop right there. Nutrition is confusing. Why make it more confusing than it need be? I used to think these people were well-meaning, but when they start to make it their life’s work and mission by spruiking, preaching, monetising their food fad beliefs or establishing a nutrition/wellness presence in any form within the media, it is unethical. They make their beliefs sound “healthy/easy/sustainable/sexy”, through their personal stories which clearly works. Moderation needs to become “sexier”, as who would have thought sound scientific research is not enough for most individuals.
To understand more about fad diets read Catherine Saxelby’s, APD post.
5 food/diet fads/trends in order of popularity:
- Superfoods – coconut, chia, kale, cacoa, quinoa
People following this trend are under the impression that “superfoods” are superior to usual food. The term superfood is really just ‘super marketing’. To set yourself straight about why there’s no such thing as ‘superfoods’ read what Gemma Sampson, APD and Tim Crowe, Adv APD had to say.
Coconut has received a lot of attention this year. To understand where the science is on coconut click here for APD Kerryn Boogaard’s, views.
- Gluten-free diet
- Sugar-free diet
The sugar-free diet has been strong for over a decade. If you are wanting to read about the current evidence behind sugar, read this post by APD, Bill Shrapnel.
Click here to find out if sugar is ‘bad’ and more about if carbohydrates are ‘fattening’.
- “Clean eating” – And other potentially damaging hashtags included such as “raw”, “guiltfree”, “bad food” and”unhealthy food”.
This has been a damaging trend over the last couple of years. What does “clean eating” even mean? People are using hashtags to judge food in a way which has lead to an unhealthy obsession with ‘eating healthily’ which can lead to the development of a condition known as ‘Orthorexia’. To understand how some hashtags can be unhelpful read here for insight by Dietitians Zoe Nicholson and Fiona Sutherland and Nutritionist Tara Leong.
- Paleo diet
Has been around for the last couple of years but seems to be slowing down with all the negative publicity chef Pete Evans received earlier this year.
Here’s the evidence on the paleolithic diet.
Predictions for 2016
The following trends will continue into 2016 but will lose momentum as dietitians in the media convey their evidenced-based messages.
I think “clean eating” will lose momentum quicker than the others as it is the most damaging label.
The Health at Every Size® (scientific evidence-based health movement) has grown significantly since 2011. I believe this will continue to grow as more dietitians and other health professionals are advocating for this approach. It’s a compassionate and effective way to improve health whilst nurturing healthy relationships with food and body.
What other helpful and unhelpful trends have you noticed this year? What predictions do you have for 2016?
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