Fifty Shades Of Grey? How About Four Shades Of Dietary Advice?

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I was reading an article recently with a similar title and it got me thinking about a few things. In today’s world we are used to having a dichotomy of pretty much everything. Everything is in black and white, with one key example being George Bush declaring that you’re either with us or against us.

Well, because of this kind of modern day thinking, we are also prone to thinking about certain foods as being good or bad. We even extend this to our knowledge of diets. In reality, I would implore you to not think about food or diets in this way.

If you read the Strategic Nutrition Guide, you will know that I do not blindly slam existing diets or claim that they are full of it. Rather, I admit that each of those diets our there have some merit to them, which is why they have been successful to varying extents. However, they all have their shortfalls as well. I have repeatedly stressed that although most of them can work in the short-term, they are probably not sustainable in the long-term. This will, of course, be the theme in today’s discussion.

Let me start off with the biggest bombshell. We are often told to pick the healthy option when it comes to getting food from the supermarket. The health credentials of certain recommended items are always on display prominently. However, there is a hidden danger.

Unbeknownst to us, our psychology is the biggest enemy here. You see, when we convince ourselves that we have picked the healthier option, we are giving ourselves room to consume a larger portion. This is not just hearsay, but has even been published in the International Journal of Obesity. The guilty buzzwords? “Low Fat”! In agreement with this, I have highlighted the potential traps in two of my books – Winning Psychology Manual and Strategic Nutrition Guide.

The next thing I want to talk about is the idea that we should abolish refined grains, and stick to the brown-fibrous versions instead. While it is true that we, in the western world, are guilty of eating too much refined grains like white bread and pasta, suggesting that they should be totally eliminated is simply overkill. Eat whole grain when you can, but having the white version sometimes wouldn’t kill you. Besides, it is a little known fact that refined grains are often enriched with iron, B vitamins and folic acid.

On to the next point – fresh is always best. Ok, let me clarify that I’m not advocating buying out-of-date products all the time just to save money. The reality is that you do not need to eat local, in-season fruits and vegetables all the time. Studies have demonstrated that frozen vegetables are often as nutritious as fresh ones. I deal with this directly in the Strategic Nutrition Guide.

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You see, the way frozen vegetables even get to the supermarket involves a process known as ‘snap chilling’. This means that during the transportation process, it’s not frozen to the extent that you think it is. As such, the nutrients in the vegetables do not leach out as much as you think it does.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons for going fresh rather than frozen is that if you buy in-season, you will be supporting local communities and farmers, which helps to stimulate the local economy. I’m a strong believer in supporting local industries where possible, that’s just my opinion.

Finally, let’s talk about butter and margarine. It is no surprise that in the past, margarine has always been lauded as the superior cousin to butter. It seems like these days, however, butter is making a strong comeback, together with its saturated fat buddies, with coconut oil being the clear standout.

However, let’s put things in perspective. Just because something is not as bad as we previously think of it, doesn’t mean that it is good either. The reason why butter started to make a comeback was because research found that rates of butter consumption did not correlate with heart disease as previously thought.

As a scientist, however, I am trained to think more critically when I analyse studies. It seems as though the studies that are quoted did not take into account the rest of the participants’ diets. As such, it is difficult to derive meaningful results. Perhaps those who avoided eating butter were consuming foods that are harmful in other ways, an example of which is sugar. Of course this is going to influence the findings, right?

So, in conclusion, I would say that you shouldn’t think of absolutes when it comes to diet and nutrition. As long as you have a sensible approach to your dietary intake, you should be fine. There is no need to be caught up in the hype of superfoods, or avoiding certain foods like the plague (unless of course, you have an allergy to them!).

Take care, and enjoy your food in moderation. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Strategic Nutrition Guide, which is also part of the Granite Fitness Solution.

Mark

 

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