By Janet Helm, MS, RD
Looking ahead to the coming year, I’m hopeful that some nutrition trends will slowly fade away. Here’s what I’d like to see less of in 2013.
Searching for the “miracle pill” du jour
It seemed like every day in 2012 there was a new “breakthrough” weight loss supplement that promised to melt fat – from raspberry ketones and green coffee bean extract to the latest Garcinia Cambogia, or tamarind extract in a pill. There’s a lot of hype, but little evidence that these pills will make any meaningful difference. But one thing’s for sure: these pricey supplements will certainly burn a hole in your wallet.
Eating like a caveman
It became fashionable to go Paleo, but any diet that restricts such wondrous foods as cheese and yogurt or forbids nutrient-rich powerhouses like whole grains and beans is too limiting and not sustainable. Paleo followers are a passionate bunch, but that doesn’t mean you need to jump on the hunter-gatherer bandwagon. We can all benefit from reducing refined, sugary grains (which is a positive part of the Paleo plan), but there’s no need to go to this extreme, in my opinion.
Going gluten-free for weight loss
All the celebrities are doing it, but that doesn’t make it a good thing to do. Unless you have celiac disease or truly suffer from gluten intolerance, simply deleting gluten won’t do you much good. In fact, it could backfire. Some studies suggest gluten-free diets may actually make matters worse for some overweight and obese individuals. Often gluten-free diets can be inadequate in essential nutrients, especially B vitamins, iron and folate. That’s because many of the popular gluten-free baked goods (which are often high in fat and calories) are frequently not fortified. Plus, going gluten-free to lose weight means you’re taking your eye off the ball – you’re not focusing on other factors that could be making a more dramatic difference in your weight , and your health.
Overall, I simply hope there’s less “dieting” in 2013. Restrictive regimens and quick-fix approaches simply don’t work. There’s not a product on the shelf – or sold on the Internet – that will be the answer in the coming year. It’s not a juice cleanse, crystals you sprinkle on food you eat, or “skinny” shake that will make the difference. What really works is changing your habits.
That’s the focus of my new book with Cooking Light called The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook. This is not a diet book – you won’t see the words “detox” or “cleanse” anywhere inside. Instead, this is a book to help you get off the diet merry-go-round and find a way to eat (and enjoy) food for the rest of your life. The book focuses on a dozen healthy habits, along with an action plan, real-life stories, and delicious recipes to help you adopt these new behaviors. Nearly all 12 habits are positive changes – things to add instead of eliminate, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, seafood, and breakfast. The first habit is cooking three more meals per week – which is certainly one of the best ways you can implement the rest of the habits.
I feel so strongly that people need to love food, not fear it. So if you have a weight-related goal in 2013, any approach you take should focus on changing your habits. Work on savoring flavorful whole foods, practicing moderation, being mindful, and staying active. Skip the miracle pills and cook more in 2013. That’s the best resolution you can make.