Popular diet rules are everywhere in our fitness culture. They are the talk of celebrities, news media and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Most of these rules are pretty simple and can be very helpful. Examples include not eating processed foods and eating organic or grass fed beef. Even avoiding sugar can seem straightforward, but there can be a potential downside to them.
The issue is, healthy eating can quickly become more about satisfying a particular diet rule or dogma instead of doing that’s really best for you. When the rule becomes the all important factor you risk denying yourself of the very foods you can benefit from.
A good example was when the low-carb craze started and people started shunning any kind of carbohydrate like it was poison. While a lot of people were better off eating less processed food, some people suffered. Athletes, in particular, found they lacked the energy and power they needed for their training. Others experienced an increase in cravings for baked goods and even fruit.
Sometimes obsessively following a popular diet rule can also cause you to eat food that is not the best for you. This happened during the low-fat movement when people avoided foods like nuts, meat, and eggs while gorging on ultra-processed low-fat foods. It was a case where following the rule was more important than doing what was truly best.
Lastly, basing your diet on just one or two rules can leave you vulnerable to marketing and label manipulation. When companies find a diet rule is becoming popular they modify their products to get around that rule. This often means producing refined and artificial products that are now “safe” according to the rule.
The other way they get around that rule is through labeling and production loopholes. They can claim their product is made with “evaporated cane juice” instead of sugar or say it’s “made with real fruit juice” when it hardly contains any. In cases like this, it’s about portraying their product as being healthier than it really is.
Food and diet rules are not the issue. It’s believing they are the most important aspect of a healthy diet and blindly following them despite the circumstances. They are a good template to start with but don’t be afraid to bend or even break the diet rules to do what’s best for you.