The rise of Instagram and tiktok videos have also led to a rise in misinformation and diet culture online. I wanted to discuss a few of the most common dietary trends online at the moment, along with some things to think about if you’re considering committing to a change. It’s important to mention it’s up to you as an individual to decide on which way of eating works for you, and that this blog is written with no judgement, but also with the hope to encourage people to ask questions and consider the pros and cons of generalised diets.
Calorie counting has been a method used by many over the years, in order to control and keep track of food intake, particularly when looking to lose weight. However calories aren’t black and white. An approx guide for calorie consumption here in the UK for weight maintenance is 2000kcal p/d for women and 2500kcal p/d for men. However, it is not always as simple as following this recommended guidance to maintain weight, or a deficit of this to lose. We need to consider our individual needs, lifestyle and personal goals. Some days we might need more, and others less.
Calories do have a role; however it’s all about meeting someone where they are. If you regularly eat fast food or highly processed meals, being mindful of the lower calorie option (by checking packaging etc) could be helpful. However, tracking this daily and / or religiously can create behaviours which could lead to developing a poor relationship with food.
Alongside this, not all calories are created equal. 200kcal worth of broccoli is going to have a very different impact on our body than 200kcal of chocolate. The broccoli will provide fibre, fullness and many other beneficial micronutrients, whereas the chocolate, although the same number of calories, will offer a different level of nutrition. Think about the quality over the number – an avocado contains more calories than a packet of Haribo, but which is the most nutritious?
The accuracy of calories in certain foods is questionable too. Calories on packaging and in tracking apps are not always accurate due to the combination of nutrients in the particular food and how this impacts the way that the calories are absorbed.
Moving away from counting calories can encourage us to eat more intuitively and tune into our hunger and fullness cues, rather than feeling the need to stop once we reach a certain number, or continue because it hasn’t been reached. It can also encourage a more positive relationship with food.
Intermittent fasting has been a hugely popular way of eating in the last couple of years, and yes, there is some evidence to support- particularly with time restricted eating. Time restricted eating involves restricting your eating to a narrower time window, therefore extending your overnight fast. A popular eating window for this dietary trend is 8 hours, extending the fast to 16. This approach does not eliminate any foods, participant’s usual diet can continue, so long as consumption takes place within the specified time period.
There is some evidence to suggest this could be beneficial to those with a goal of weight loss, and also some that suggests this way of eating can support cardiovascular health; however we also need to also consider the potential drawbacks and how realistic this dietary choice is when it comes to your lifestyle and routine.
For those who feel better eating regularly throughout the day, or for an individual who needs to keep a close eye on controlling blood sugar levels, this approach may not be suitable. It could also be dangerous for those who struggle with their relationship with food as it can encourage more restrictive behaviours along with specific food rules. During pregnancy and when breastfeeding, intermittent fasting is also not considered safe.
Those with a highly active lifestyle may also need to consider if this approach is for them, due to the absence of fuel needed in high intensity training.
The practicality of the diet also depends on factors including working hours / shift patterns and family commitments, as the time restrictive nature of the diet may not be suitable.
Although research shares some benefits; most commonly in weight loss, personalised nutrition is key when considering whether any type of fasting would be beneficial. The needs and lifestyle of the individual should always be considered.
We’ve been through them all in the last decade; ‘don’t eat fat - it makes you fat’, ‘cut carbs and focus on fat and protein’, ‘remove animal protein and just eat plants’…it’s hard to know what works best!
The truth is we need a combination of key macronutrients to support and fuel the healthy functioning of our body and mind.
Carbohydrates are our body and brains preferred source of fuel – they are needed in the diet for energy, to enhance mood and support digestion.
Protein rich foods work as the building blocks for muscles, skin and most bodily structures. Quality protein helps to keep blood sugar balanced, leaving us with a better chance of feeling satisfied until our next meal.
Fat provides energy, supports the structure and function of our hormones and is important for brain health and development.
Long term restriction can be really dangerous, it can lead to missing out on key vitamins and minerals needed for a functioning heart, brain, bones and many other organs in the body. Not to mention the impact it can have on our relationship with food long term.
Each macronutrient has its benefits, and a combination of all will support sustainable health and longevity. Although some may have slightly less of a particular macro depending on their goals, it’s important to avoid restriction for no specific reason.
With all of the above in mind – it comes back to the fact that we are all individual! Rather than following the latest trend, be sure to listen to your body and eat in a way that suits your own needs.
Remember, prioritising our health irrespective of our weight is always a good idea!
Here at The Garden we have a variety of healthy and inclusive options suitable for many dietary needs. Brunches, lunches, smoothies and salads, be sure to pop in soon and grab your garden fix!