New Year, New Diet? Read this First!

Wed, 26 December 2012 2:00PM

Some of us manage to balance a diet with precision; no sugar, minimal salt, good fats, greens and grains…you get the picture.

And it’s a lovely picture. Worth hanging if you ask me, but the reality is that cracks can show and this ideal image can slip.

Coming into 2013, I hope we all have good intentions to eat better. We have had enough education about the ills of preservatives and all that palaver to keep us reading food labels from here to the next Christmas.

But eliminating the foods we think are not doing us any favours is not the answer to our dietary dilemmas. In fact, the Australasian College of Natural Therapies (ACNT) warns that fad diets and superfood trends could actually be putting Australians at risk of malnutrition.

Head of Academic Studies in Natural Therapies, Teresa Mitchell-Paterson explains that the college and its network of nutrition graduates have identified a growing trend in self-diagnosed food intolerances and an increase in crash diets and fad food trends.

“The phrase ‘online doctor’ yields more than 528 million search results on Google, suggesting there is a high demand for online medical advice,” says Mitchell-Paterson. Any radical change to a person’s diet can have a significant impact on their health, she says. “Eliminating entire food groups, or taking a cocktail of vitamins can be extremely dangerous and can even cause long-term damage to vital organs.”

Sound familiar? Off the top of my (relatively intelligent and informed) head, I can recall ditching bread, rice, sugar, chocolate, wine, coffee, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, milk, gluten, carbohydrates, white anything, yoghurt, citrus, cheese and yeast at some stage of my adulthood.

Why? Well I, like many of us, was getting mixed messages online and through conversations. What was right for me? Mitchell-Paterson says an expert is the only one who holds the answer.

“Obviously there is a lot of information at our disposal on the internet, but what people forget it that this isn’t always suitable for each individual. The only way to be sure about what’s best for you is to seek advice from a professional and avoid the unqualified advice of Dr Google altogether,” says Connolly. “You don’t need to be sick to seek professional advice on nutrition. Many of my clients are simply confused about whether to eat goji berries, drink lemon tea or dose up on vitamins. The truth is that everyone is unique and different bodies have different nutritional demands,” she says.

Here are the guidelines to follow before you even consider streamlining your diet for the New Year:

1.     Get the right advice. If you want to change your diet, seek advice from a naturopath or nutritionist. Ensure they are fully recognised by industry bodies such as the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.

2.     Balanced is best. It’s great to try new things, but an unsupervised, elimination style diet can lead to malnutrition, so it’s important to maintain a balanced diet.

3.     One step at a time. It’s important not to get caught up in the ‘fads’ or adopt multiple changes at once. Many of these trends have contradicting qualities, making it impossible to pin point the benefits, or any bad reactions you may experience.

4.     Nature’s way. Dietary supplements are just that: a supplement. They should not replace good eating habits as natural fats and antioxidants in fruit and vegetables also ensure the vitamins are absorbed by the body.

5.     Sleep. Aim for eight hours of it every night. Low energy levels are often mistaken for vitamin deficiencies, and dosing up on supplements won’t help.

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  • Posted by: loopylexy Master Fan // Wed, 26 December 2012 03:30pm

    This is so true! Having said that, I’m “self diagnosed” lactose intolerant, but my symptoms are so obvious there’s really no disputing it.

  • Posted by: Ellen // Wed, 26 December 2012 04:00pm

    I would suggest a dietitian as first point of call when switching up your eating pattern, rather than a naturopath or nutritionist…

  • Posted by: daylight dancer Master Fan // Thu, 27 December 2012 09:12am

    Having two toddlers sleep is something i truely dont get enough of. Id love to change my diet for 2013, i really need a more balanced diet.

  • Posted by: PrettyPrincess Master Fan // Thu, 27 December 2012 12:53pm

    There is a lot of un-educated opinions going around.
    People say don’t eat fruit it has too much sugar! Maybe but its sure betterr than eating junk food anyway.

  • Posted by: Sparkles17 Master Fan // Thu, 27 December 2012 02:21pm

    I believe eating a healthy balanced diet and exercise means you dont need any vitamin supplements.
    As for sleep, sigh wish I could sleep late just once with toddlers it means 6am starts even on weekends!

  • Posted by: Julieow Master Fan // Sat, 29 December 2012 10:26am

    The best thing I ever did was see a Naturopath, her advice has really stood to me. I’m going to see another in 2013 after my pregnancy to get me back on track again. I got a health fund discount too, money well spent. I was grabbing on to bits of diets like you mentioned.

  • Posted by: isabella21 Enthusiast // Sat, 29 December 2012 01:13pm

    No fads for me just a well balanced diet
    and exercise.

  • Posted by: missselin Master Fan // Sat, 29 December 2012 03:26pm

    I really need to start a diet. This will be definitely a new years resolution.

  • Posted by: lovefashionangel Master Fan // Mon, 31 December 2012 11:24am

    No diet beats a balanced one :)

  • Posted by: anitas.artistry Master Fan // Mon, 31 December 2012 02:30pm

    I’ve seen a naturopath a few times and the advice has been really great.

  • Posted by: p3charmed Master Fan // Wed, 2 January 2013 11:16am

    very intelligent and helpful, relevent article, thanks :)

  • Posted by: Jensta Master Fan // Wed, 2 January 2013 11:41am

    These are such good tips and so true, everybody’s body is definately different.

  • Posted by: beautiful87 Master Fan // Sat, 5 January 2013 10:04am

    good tips

  • Posted by: diva89 Master Fan // Wed, 9 January 2013 07:18pm

    great tips

  • Posted by: Jessielyn Master Fan // Fri, 18 January 2013 03:42pm

    Sleep really is one of the worlds magic cures for everything. And I agree- you should never eliminate a food or food group from your diet without first consulting a doctor or dietician- even if you’re sure that it’s the answer to your problem. Always go see a professional.

  • Posted by: Gloss_Geek Master Fan // Mon, 21 January 2013 07:46pm

    Great Article! I’ve also been guilty of ‘banning’ particular foods in the past, which didn’t help at all. I agree- visiting a nutritionist or naturopath is the first port of call if anything seems wrong.

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Fri, 21 June 2013 08:15pm

    A good balance of foods is the way to go. I don’t go without anything just make sure I cut down my portions, except if it is something healthy.

  • Posted by: brinsley Master Fan // Sun, 10 August 2014 10:17am

    Great advise! I think all things in moderation is best! Watch your portion sizes, don’t try to cut out things you love or you will ultimately fail – just reduce the amount and frequency for a start and you will reek rewards! Start introducing more exercise too, just a couple of extra walks a week – it all helps! Drink more water, get enough sleep and move more/eat less. but be sensible and stay positive! You can do whatever you desire – you just need the right motivation and willpower!

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Wed, 22 October 2014 06:17pm

    These are all good ways to improve health.

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