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How to not let alarmist food trends affect your diet

Experts share six easy tips you can follow to eat healthy and well amid a constant inflow of alarmist news

Eat mindfully, indulge occasionally and get dietary guidance from a professional, not social media.
Eat mindfully, indulge occasionally and get dietary guidance from a professional, not social media. (Unsplash/Pablo Merchan Montes)

‘Raw vegan food influencer dies’. 
‘WHO advises not to use non-sugar sweeteners’.
‘No ‘fruit’ in fruit drinks: Starbucks dragged to court’.

Reports like these keep popping up on our timeline frequently making us question our food and lifestyle choices from time to time. While one day, ‘sugar’ is a clear-cut villain, another day it’s ‘dairy’ that we need to run from. On the third day we need to follow a ‘keto’ diet while on the fourth, we need to steer clear of ‘carbs’.

So, the bigger question is how can a person keep changing his or her dietary habits based on perpetually changing news? Moreover, how can one remain sane and not get carried away by a host of alarmist food trends that change with every click or scroll and cloud our thoughts further?

Also read: How extreme dietary habits affect life expectancy

Here are a couple of pointers you can keep in mind to eat healthy and stay unaffected by the flurry of (confusing and contradictory) news headlines that's served to us almost every day: 

  1. Be sustainable: Instead of getting carried away by fad diets for a short time and giving up, follow what works for you in the long run. “A diet like keto or paleo is a therapeutic one recommended by doctors when a patient has a particular illness like epilepsy. It’s not meant for everyone,” says Bengaluru-based Rathan Bysani, a registered dietician  who is also a diabetes educator and a medical keto dietician for kids with epilepsy. Shruti Gupta, a registered dietician in functional medicine, too advises one to go for a sustainable approach. 

    “People tend to go on crash diets to lose weight whenever there is a festival or function coming up. They are unable to follow this on a long term and go back to their normal weight only to follow a drastic diet again for a special occasion. These drastic ups and downs could lead to ailments and deficiencies. It’s better to eat a balanced and sustainable diet on a daily basis that works for you,” she notes. 
  2. Occasional indulgence is okay:  Instead of omitting an entire food group from your diet or completely restricting yourself from eating junk food, remember that it’s ok to give in to your cravings once in a while. Says F&B entrepreneur and health aficionado Surovi Salgado, “Don’t label any food as ‘absolutely cannot eat’. If you are craving for a burger or pizza, have it but don’t make it a habit. Eat those things occasionally.” 
  3. Seek the right guidance: Be careful about who you follow on social media. Do your research from reliable sources and medical journals and always go to a professional healthcare practitioner for advice. “Anyone can start a diet and have their own opinion on everything online. It’s easy to follow such people but if you are really serious about your health, go, meet a professional and see what’s feasible for you,” says Bysani. 

    Also read: There's no such thing as too much garlic, for good reason
  4. A little mindfulness goes a long way: Yes, mindfulness could work wonders here too. “I try not to let anything overwhelm me and meditation and mindfulness help me in this regard. In addition, good sleep, exercise and nutrition play a vital role in helping me stay calm and focussed without getting stressed out by things that are beyond my control,” says Salgado. 
  5. Moderation is key: Copious amounts of anything, even foods considered healthy, may not be good, point out experts. “For a normal individual without any comorbidity, a little sugar or artificial sweetener in tea or coffee (one to two cups a day) won’t do any harm. The same rule applies for everything else too. Hence, limit your intake and follow portion control,” advises Bysani. 
  6. Switch to natural and healthier alternatives: Whether it’s dates over refined sugar; whole wheat bread/pasta instead of regular, or vegetables and fruits instead of fries and samosas, weigh your options and ensure that your choices have the benefits of nature and nutrients. “Go for homemade dryfruit energy balls instead of biscuits or rusks with tea. Also keep in mind that although jaggery and palm sugar have added nutrients, they still increase blood sugars leading to insulin resistance. Hence, try satiating your sweet tooth from sources as natural as possible such as fruits and dry fruits,” advises Gupta. 

Also read: Genetic biomarker could predict severity of food allergy: Study




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