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Food Fads: How to Navigate the False Claims in 2021

Exercise and Nutrition
Author name: By Ashley Lovetere, MS, RD, LDN

We like to start the new year off with plans for change, and we are motivated to make each year the best one yet.

If we learned anything from 2020, though, it’s that not everything goes according to plan.

With the new year, comes new fads – especially food and diets. After all, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to eat better and lose weight. Different diets and supplements are marketed to grab your attention and promise change. Magazines line the shelves offering “20-pound weight loss in one week.”

It can be tempting to give in to these kinds of claims especially after all the holiday eating. But as we sort through all the new products and diets, here are a few helpful hints to think about before deciding if these products are worth your time and money.

Look the other way if the supplement or diet promises a certain amount of weight loss in a short amount of time: A healthy and safe weight loss is about half a pound to 2 pounds per week. A weight loss of 20 pounds in 1-2 weeks is not safe and is likely water loss or even lean muscle loss. You might get quick results, but this kind of diet will not result in any long-term effect.

Never cut out specific food or food groups unless you are following an elimination diet related to a medical condition for gastrointestinal upset or food allergies: This includes our three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein or fat.

More about macronutrients: We need a variety of foods in our diet to provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Each macronutrient has a specific role in our body to keep it functioning well. If we cut out our carbohydrates, we lose significant amounts of fiber. With no fiber in our diet we put ourselves at risk for irregular bowel movements, elevated blood sugar and cholesterol, and increased risk for certain cancers.

Avoid the diet that claims to work for everyone: Everyone has different needs based on their medical status. As mentioned above, we need to include each macronutrient in our diet. The amount may vary based on each person’s clinical status. For example, an individual’s protein intake may vary related to their kidney function. This is why it is important to speak with a registered dietitian to have them assess your individual needs.

“Backed by research” can be misleading: Was the research performed on a couple of lab rats? The product might tout a 70 percent success rate – but was the sample size only 10 people? Companies manipulate the consumer to believe their product works when in actuality they did not perform proper research protocol.

Avoid products endorsed by celebrities or celebrity doctors: Remember, they are making money off you purchasing these products. The chance is usually pretty slim that the celebrity doc is following the diet or using the product. Also, meal plans or endorsed products typically violate the rule above about not cutting out a food group.

Remember, nutrition is a science, not an opinion: Be careful when reading articles in magazines. Look for the RD after the author’s name to verify that a trained dietitian wrote it. This is true of social media as well. Many people tout themselves as “experts” and they might sound convincing. But RDs have training, experience and work hard to tailor plans to individual needs.

By providing evidence-based research, RDs work with proven facts instead of opinions and have your best interest at heart.


How About a Healthy Chili?

One Pot Hearty Chili Mac

5 servings

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 lb ground turkey

8 oz uncooked whole grain macaroni

½ red onion, diced

2 Roma Tomatoes, diced

12 oz low sodium black beans

4 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

Seasoning:

1 Tbsp Chili Powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

*Optional garnish with avocado, cilantro, cheddar cheese.

Directions:

  1. Use a large skillet or medium pot on medium high heat with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Sautee onions until translucent.
  2. Add ground turkey and cook until brown.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, black beans, seasoning and low sodium chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add uncooked macaroni. Mix and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes until pasta is cooked.
  5. Remove from heat, serve hot with optional garnish.

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