Why you shouldn’t buy into every diet or health claim you hear

We’re well over a month into the New Year, and in the past month, social media, Pinterest, and magazines have bombarded me with salads, diet-friendly this, sugar-free that, and snacks that are low in all the things we’re supposed to eat.

I usually don’t mind this overabundance of healthier options – whether over the top or not – because, hey, sometimes I find some good recipes to try! Plus, I love it when people start to focus on making more nutritious choices.

But this year, I’ve been seeing a little bit too much of diets attached to the recipe name, such as “Cleansing Apple Smoothie” or “Whole30 Vegetarian Power Bowls.”

The recipe that really took me over the top was when I recently saw a description for Coconut Flour Cookies. After the description listed the “scrumptious peanut butter and chocolate nestled into each cookie,” it listed that they were also Paleo, low-carb, gluten-free, and dairy-free. They were described as being “delicious and healthy and come without regrets.”

But they’re still cookies! Does anybody else see the irony in this?

Just because the coconut cookies check the boxes on a large majority of dietary restrictions or diets right now, does not inherently make them healthy. Whether a cookie is advertised as being diet-friendly or not, it’s still a treat that should be enjoyed sparingly.

Recipes and foods can list all kinds of catchy phrases or words to persuade you they’re “healthy,” which somehow makes them better than other foods. Here are some key words to watch out for that are used to grab your attention – but often may not mean much at all in terms of your long-term health.

No regrets

We often have regrets or feel guilty for eating foods when we’ve given ourselves restrictions on what foods are allowed. Restrictions only lead to overeating and binging on the things we’re trying to avoid in the first place.

Rather than setting yourself up for failure, give yourself permission to have your favorite foods once in a while. Just because it’s not a black bean brownie, doesn’t mean you should have regrets for eating a slice of cake that isn’t compliant with all the diets.

No refined sugar

It says “sugar-free” or “doesn’t contain refined sugar,” but does it contain coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup or agave nectar (just to name a few)? All of these are added sugars that didn’t occur naturally in the food product.

Whether the sugar on the ingredient list comes from sugar cane, corn, beets or coconut, it’s still added sugar that we need to limit.

Clean eating

When a product makes the claim that it used “clean ingredients,” it gives the food a “health halo,” and many make the assumption that it’s, therefore, a healthy choice. Especially for treats, this just isn’t the case.

Calling something clean implies other foods are dirty or inferior, which isn’t true, either. Choosing whole or minimally processed foods is certainly a good goal to strive for, but enjoying a cheeseburger doesn’t make you “bad” either.

Low-carb

Our bodies need a good balance of fats, protein and carbohydrates. Our bodies actually prefer carbohydrates for its main energy source.

Certainly, we need to choose carbohydrates that are in the form of whole-grains most of the time to help keep us satisfied and to provide us with the nutrients we need, but we’re also not doing our bodies any favors by seeking out low-carb foods.

Diet approved

Diets, in general, don’t work when it comes to sustaining long-term weight loss. That’s because making a blanket recommendation for everyone negates the fact that each of us has highly individualized and different needs.

When determining whether a diet-plan is right for you, ask yourself whether it includes all five food groups, if it includes foods you’ll enjoy eating for a lifetime, if the foods are readily available where you shop, if your favorite foods are included, and if it fits into your budget and lifestyle.

If you can’t answer these with a yes, the diet is most likely too restrictive and not something you’ll be able to maintain for long.

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