How to Eat Healthier in the New Year

Jan 8, 2019Health & Nutrition

 Happy New Year! I always love the start of the year because it’s the time for fresh beginnings, which include new goals, new resolutions and a new planner! Yes… I still write on paper. Research shows it keeps you more accountable to your goals, and you are more likely to accomplish them when they’re written down. Just saying.

Not surprisingly, many of you have healthy eating, weight loss and/or fitness goals at this time of year but may be unsure of where to start. Perhaps you have a trendy diet in mind you plan on trying. Trendy diets of 2018 were the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, alkaline diet, carb cycling and whole 30. Cleanses and detoxes also always seem to be popular, and yes –the taco cleanse was a thing.

Misconceptions of “Healthy”

Somehow, the concept of “health” or “being healthy” more than ever has been attributed to a certain image. Currently, it’s a tiny waist with massive curves (think: Jessica Rabbit and fitness), women wearing too tight yoga pants, and before and after photos showing exceptional weight loss.

If you’re a person from the millennial generation, you’re probably familiar with Instagram hashtags of #health and #fitness, which would quickly bring you up to speed on what most people think health is. The reality is, health actually has nothing to do with image, but is defined as the state of being free from illness or injury.

Kim Kardashian’s Instagram ad for Flat Tummy Co resurfaced again for the new year *face palm*. Celebrities promoting products from pseudoscience weight loss companies (Read: What is pseudoscience?) that promise flat tummies and rapid weight loss targeting towards young women and girls is nothing new.

Picture

From Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account with 124 million followers. You think a celebrity influencer would be more responsible with that much power, no?

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Cardi B’s Instagram account also boasts 39+ million followers.

 

Liver

How to Spot a Fad Diet or Crappy Health Product

​Those products falls into the cleanses and detoxes category of diet products. The tea has a herbal laxative meant to “detoxify “the body to accelerate weight loss. In other words, it makes you poo. The meal replacement shakes contain Citrimax, an appetite suppressant so you won’t feel hungry, therefore won’t eat resulting in quick weight loss. Like many meal replacements, these shakes are ingested in replacement of real food, so what do you think will happen when you start eating normal again?

The reality is, no one ever needs to detox or cleanse – thanks to your body’s physiology. Here are two TED-ED videos, explaining how the liver and kidneys work and are your natural detoxers, removing toxins from your body:

 

Liver

Kidneys

Isn’t physiology fascinating? Also, why didn’t YouTube exist when I was in school!? Definitely better as a learning tool than textbooks (elder millennial here).

​Back to flat tummy products, Kim K and Cardi B (shown above) and other celebrities were reportedly paid $200,000 per Instagram post to endorse it. Beautiful, high profile celebrities have presented us with this fantasy image of health meant to sell products that don’t actually work. So most importantly, I present to you what healthy eating is not:

Healthy Eating is NOT Deprivation

Very recently, an article suggested that the new diet of 2019 year might just be no diet at all. I couldn’t agree more. However, for people who wish to follow a different way of eating for the new year, I feel it’s my duty to inform you of how to spot a fad diet or shit product that is really meant to take your money and not help you with health goals in the long run.

​How to Spot A Trendy Diet

​All trendy & fad diets and products have these four things in common:

1) Promises Rapid Results

Take this tea/pill/herb/supplement/smoothie/whatever and you will immediately banish the bloating! Lose two inches off your waist in two days!

Often these claims are backed up with before and after images and testimonials of people who have tried the product. Read the fine print: * Results may vary. Effective when combined with diet and exercise. Disclaimers are there to protect themselves from false claims.

2) Profits Off Your Insecurities

Have you always been self-conscious about your gut? Do you dream of having a flatter, tighter tummy? This product/diet will give you the waistline you’ve always dreamed of!

Deep down we are all are emotional, insecure beings, and the diet industry is fully aware. That’s why it’s a billion dollar industry.

3) Tells You to Cut Out Certain Foods

One of the obvious signs of a fad diet is the labelling as foods as “good” vs “bad.” These diets often come with a list foods you can eat and foods you can’t. What are good or bad foods depend on which diet you follow. Carbs on the keto diet? Bad. Dairy on paleo? Also bad. Assigning good and bad labels to food choices contributes to the culture of food shaming and policing.

4) Preaches Deprivation

Going along with assigning morality (i.e. good and bad) to foods, most diets will tell you not to eat bad foods and use your own “willpower” to ensure you don’t succumb to their temptations. I don’t ever preach deprivation or food restriction because it ultimately leads to binge eating and you will end up feeling like you failed.

Is food just food?

Do you remember a time food was just food?

You ate when you were hungry, and stopped when you were full? Do you remember the time before we were bombarded with multiple messages from the media about how, when and what to eat in order to be healthy?

How about this: Do you remember the foods you grew up with?

​EAT “YOUR” REAL FOOD

Back in the day, “peasant food” was just what you ate six out of the seven days of the week. Not the cheap, processed foods we consume today. Perhaps during the week, your community ate rice, vegetables and small amounts of meat or fish typical in most East Asian countries, or porkchop, potatoes and a side of vegetables like in many European countries.

Every culture has an indulgent and special meal enjoyed once in a while, perhaps for Sunday Supper. Maybe that was roast beef dinner or Peking Duck with the family. Those indulgent meals people consumed once in a while at the restaurant are often what we think about when discussing cultural cuisine.

Back in the day, “peasant food” was just what you ate six out of the seven days of the week. Not the cheap, processed foods we consume today. Perhaps during the week, your community ate rice, vegetables and small amounts of meat or fish typical in most East Asian countries, or porkchop, potatoes and a side of vegetables like in many European countries.

Every culture has an indulgent and special meal enjoyed once in a while, perhaps for Sunday Supper. Maybe that was roast beef dinner or Peking Duck with the family. Those indulgent meals people consumed once in a while at the restaurant are often what we think about when discussing cultural cuisine.

This is above photo is one of my favourite images of life. Why? It captures the reality of cooking and feeding. Majority of feeders are still women, not rockstar or celebrity chefs. We don’t often see these women. It’s important to remember these amazing women that work hard to ensure their families are fed and cared for! Photo Credit: Andii Samperio, Mexico
For example, in North America we tend to attribute Mexican food to heavier dishes like burritos, guacamole and tacos. But in reality, people of Latin American heritage tend to consume rice and beans as their everyday foods. Food of their culture. Home cooked, inexpensive and nutritious, right?

Healthy Eating Advice – The Bottom Line

​I can tell you that most trendy and fad diets and products don’t work, because most of them don’t even have you consuming real food. Most tell you to give up foods you grew up eating, how you learned to eat as a child (ie. eat when hungry, stop when full) under the guise of the image of health. Most will have you thinking that your ethnocultural cuisine your parents fed you is unhealthy, uncivilized and unappealing, when new and better research is praising those old ways of eating. Do you remember those ways before you were bombarded with mixed nutrition messages?

The best diet is one that is most sustainable for you, and that is often the home cooked meals you grew up eating.

 

Did you enjoy this article? This year I am excited to announce that I’m relaunching NutritionArtist.com with a brand new website; featuring fresh content, beautiful food images and delicious recipes! Want to keep up to date with trustworthy nutrition information presented in a creative way?

Meet Michelle

Welcome, I'm Michelle! I'm a TV and digital media registered dietitian and Asian cuisine content creator based out of Hamilton, ON Canada!

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