Did you watch cartoons growing up? Did you have a favourite animated Disney movie? Maybe you were more into super heroes and really enjoyed Superman, Batman or another Marvel or DC character.
For me it was the Man of Steel. I loved the movie. He had incredible super powers including being faster than a speeding bullet, x-ray vision, superhuman hearing and being able to fly. Every year I looked forward to dressing up as Superman for Hallowe’en. And of course it was exciting when the new movie in the series would come out.
***quick aside…there’s no contest when it comes to Superman v Batman. You’re talking about a super human versus a regular human that wears a special suit with lots of gadgets. So I’m sorry if you’re a fan of Batman but I’m not sure if we can be friends…***
Anyways, at a certain age you realize Superman is fictional and he and all of his abilities are made up. In my case, I believe this age was 13 or 14 years old.
And there other things in life that we believe when we’re younger but eventually learn the truth. This includes Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Unfortunately there are certain nutritional fables, stories and other made up nonsense that won’t go away. We get older. We get wiser. Yet these concepts in nutrition hang around.
Well, it’s time to take some of these terms and concepts out behind the barn and kill them off once and for all.
Below are 3 nutritional terms that simply won’t die.
1 – Clean Eating – Despite the fact that most people understand what we’re getting at when we say that we eat ‘cleanly’ there is no accepted definition for this word. Does it mean it an elimination of certain unhealthy foods? Does it mean an abundance of healthier foods?
Clean eating does not have an agreed upon definition. For example, a VLCD, or very low carbohydrate diet, means no more than 40% of calories coming from carbohydrates. A fat-free food means no more than 0.5 grams per 100 grams of the food. And there is no added fat to the food.
With clean eating, healthy foods may be trimmed from a diet. And there may be an over consumption of other foods.
Due to the lack of a standardized definition for clean eating this is one term that needs to be eliminated.
2 – Natural Food – In a similar way that clean eating can be confusing it can be hard to tell what is meant by natural food. The FDA has avoided adding this designation to food labelling. It appears this is more of an issue of marketing than science.
For example, for a while GMOs were a hot topic. And nutrition almost became a theology where discussions on the topic often when something like this “I feel that… or I believe that…”
The problem is that nutrition is not a theology. It’s about science. And almost every food we have has some level of human involvement whether at the growth, spraying, harvesting, processing or packaging stage. And some argue that sugar should be consider natural, and thus healthier, while other sugar alternatives shouldn’t have the same designation and de-emphasized accordingly.
3 – Cleanse/Detox – This might be my all-time favourite nutritional gimmick. Want to know why? Because they’re all the same except for one feature. And secondly your liver and kidneys will always do a better job of cleansing and detoxifying the body.
Here’s what most cleanses have in common:
- eliminate sugar
- eliminate white flour
- eliminate processed food
- eliminate alcohol
- eliminate dairy
- eliminate gluten
- eliminate coffee
- eliminate red meat
- stop smoking
- drink more water
- eat more fruits and vegetables
Now there are two other common features of most cleanses. The first is the requirement for a supplement to go along with all the foods your’re eliminating. How else can someone make money off you? You can make all the changes and listed above but it’s hard to profit off telling someone to eliminate sugar and to drink more water. Selling a supplement as part of the package increases the margins substantially.
The other thing cleanses have in common is the lack of peer-reviewed scientific evidence proving they work.
As we’ve said before only make changes that are healthy and sustainable. Eliminating foods can sometimes lead to certain foods . And the elimination of so many foods is hardly sustainable even for those with the highest of will power.
Going forward watch out for nutritional approaches that are pushing clean eating, natural foods and involve a detox or cleanse. There’s no clear agreed upon definition for these terms. And the goal for healthier living should be to do something that is sustainable but not that you could only do for a few weeks or a month.