Fad diet alert: Decoding Buzzwords

In my profession, you need to keep up with the media. You need to follow what people are reading, writing, watching and blogging about. As a Dietitian, I always want to help my clients make the best informed choices for their health. And by informed, I mean knowing which nutrition recommendations are legit, and which are bulls$!t.

I thought I could give my opinions on 3 “buzzwords” that I commonly hear in the media, to help you lovely readers make your own informed choices. Please note that these are MY opinions, and my POV may differ from another Dietitian.

“Eating Clean”

What it is: From my extensive (Re: 5 minute) Google search, I could not find any legitimate definitions. However from what I have read in the media and various nutrition blogs, “Eating Clean” basically means avoiding processed, refined foods and including more whole foods in your diet. Many “clean eaters” avoid gluten (of course), dairy, sugar, processed oils (canola, soybean, margarine) and salt. Those who tout the magic of eating clean state that this dietary pattern can reduce chronic disease risk, gives you energy, makes your skin glow and helps eliminate toxins.

Kelly’s POV: I hate this term. To state that certain foods are clean implies that others are dirty. And I worry that this trend will cause people to obsess over eating only “clean” foods, which may lead to disordered eating called orthorexia. You can read my previous post about that here. Although I do think it is important to include lots of whole, unprocessed foods (vegetables, fruits, grains, healthy fats, plant and lean animal proteins) into our diets, food is also about pleasure, enjoyment and balance. And I would never decline a nice fat piece of cake because it’s “dirty”, unless of course it falls on the floor.

Literal Translation…


What it is: Jennifer Sygo, RD wrote a fantastic book titled “Unmasking Superfoods“. I would recommend checking it out at your local library or you can purchase it here. It is a great book that uses evidence-based science to debunk claims about various superfoods. A superfood as defined by popular consensus are foods that have some amazing nutrient properties, and when consumed are believed to provide superior health benefit. Some popular superfoods that have come up in the media are quinoa, kale, goji berries, chia seeds, coconut oil and avocado. The supplement industry has hopped onto the superfood bandwagon, promising the benefits of these superfoods in hugely concentrated amounts.

Kelly’s POV: My views are very similar to Jennifer. In the introduction of her book she states that the word superfood makes her uncomfortable, “because it elevates one food over another”. It also gives the illusion that there is somehow a “magic bullet”, and if we eat nothing but superfoods we will live a long, healthy and disease-free life. The truth is, not one food item is going to give your body all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed for a healthy life. Our bodies require VARIETY. Also, these supplements and superfoods can be very expensive, and people don’t realize that you can get the same superfood benefits from eating whole, lower cost foods. For example, a serving of potato (skin on, about the size of a fist) provides as much Vitamin C as a mandarin orange, as much Potassium as a small banana and healthy insoluble fibre. Unfortunately “potato” doesn’t sound as sexy as “dark chocolate chia goji pudding”. Rather than stocking up on the latest superfood supplements, eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods and cook more food at home 🙂 Just sayin’

Colour, variety, deliciousness. That's the look I'm going for! Photo credit: greenerideal.com
Colour, variety, deliciousness. That’s the look I’m going for! Photo credit: greenerideal.com


What it is: This method of dieting and “detoxifying” has increased in popularity, thanks to celebrity endorsements and the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. In this documentary a man named Joe Cross promotes the use of monthly juicing diets he calls “reboots” and states that juicing has helped him lose weight and rid him of an autoimmune disorder. Juicing involves drinking nothing but squeezed vegetable and fruit juices, preferably organic. Juicing differs from smoothies in that you are not consuming the intact vegetable/fruit, thus all the skins and membranes are gone.

Kelly’s POV: I recently watched Joe’s sequel to his documentary call Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 2. I think the information in this sequel drives my point home that juicing is stupid and not meant for long-term heath. Basically Joe shows how his weight has significantly fluctuated, and every time he starts to gain weight back, he will do a “reboot”. This type of yo-yo dieting is not doing our bodies any favours, and makes it harder to lose weight each time. As well, Joe checks in with a truck driver he met in his first documentary, who followed  a 60 day “reboot”. Guess what? The man has gained EVERYTHING back. No surprise there. The fact is, juicing is not appropriate for long-term weight management because:

1) It is not sustainable and you will gain everything back when you go back to your regular pattern of eating

2) The lack of fibre, protein and healthy fats makes this diet very unsatisfying and puts you at risk for nutrient deficiencies

3) We know that drinking our calories does not trigger satiety/feeling of fullness as well as eating whole, intact foods with fibre (e.g. eating an actual orange versus drinking orange juice)

4) The cost of juicing must be astronomical, especially when you are juicing organic produce with low water yield (e.g. kale and other leafy greens)

I hope this information helps! xo


One thought on “Fad diet alert: Decoding Buzzwords

  1. What’s wrong with eating cake off the floor?? 🙂 Great entry Kelly! You give some straightforward, sensible advice on topics that have become increasingly complex. Love this blog!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s