It is quite astonishing to me how much attention some people pay to their diets, even if they have no medical condition that requires them to be careful about what they eat or drink. This feeling that certain diets can be the pathway to good health and longevity has been exploited by some to promote various fads that can, in fact, be dangerous. This article describes some popular fads that one should be very wary of.
This article warns that excessive fears about food, that come under the heading of ‘clean eating’, can lead to obsessive behavior and all manner of problems.
Rhiannon Lambert, a registered associate nutritionist in Harley Street, London, has encountered people who obsess over where food comes from and some clients who will not drink water from a tap, because they normally stick to a brand of bottled water.
“They develop particular habits, or won’t eat food when walking, because they think that food can only be processed when they’re sitting down,” she said. “All this interferes with general life and becomes an obsession.”
Lambert, who treats about 180 clients a year with various kinds of eating disorders, says has seen the number of those presenting due to “clean eating” double in the last year.
The extreme form of this is a psychological condition known as orthorexia nervosa, the Californian doctor Steven Bratman has said. Experts have described it as a “fixation with righteous eating”.
Ursula Philpot, a dietitian at the British Dietetic Association, said a fixation with eating healthily had been a noticeable route into eating disorders for vulnerable individuals in the past couple of years.
The condition starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthily, but those who experience it become fixated on food quality and purity, according to experts.
Specific food fads keep periodically emerging based on sketchy claims of health benefits. Very recently I heard of something called ‘kombucha’ that is being touted even though health experts advise caution.
Proponents claim kombucha tea helps prevent and manage serious health conditions, from blood pressure to cancer. These claims are not backed by science.
In short, there isn’t enough evidence that kombucha tea delivers on its health claims. At the same time, several cases of harm have been reported. Therefore, the prudent approach is to avoid kombucha tea until more definitive information is available.
Once again, this temptation to overdo things is largely a ‘first world’ phenomenon, like the ‘raw water’ fad. It seems like when something is freely available, as is food and water in the US, some people try to make it enormously threatening and complicated so that they can market niche products of dubious value that they claim will protect you from non-existent dangers of ordinary foods. The many millions of people who suffer from food insecurity around the world do not have the luxury to indulge in such things.
When it comes to diet, I have a simple rule that is basically similar to what food writer Michael Pollan has distilled into seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Only the ‘eat food’ part needs explanation and that is that he defines ‘food’ as just the things that are cooked fresh using basic ingredients, preferably by those who are eating it, not the highly processed, pre-packaged products that are thrust upon us, that are stuffed with all manner of preservatives, salt, sugar, fillers, dyes, and so on so that they have a strong flavor and long shelf-life.
So I don’t really pay much attention to news reports about the latest ‘miracle food’. I simply eat moderate amounts of a balanced diet that is mostly home-cooked and only occasionally indulge in processed foods.