Nutrition gone mad

November 3, 2013

I’m getting an increasing number of requests for online coaching, particularly from females about nutrition.  Most of those who contact me are following one particular nutritional programme or another and not getting the outcome they were hoping for or expecting and now feel they are a bit stuck.

Almost to a person they all have the same two underlying issues.  One, they don’t have any baseline understanding of what their nutritional requirements actually are.  And two, they’ve got far too variables in play, which is just confusing things. I’m sure many of us can relate to this, but it’s something we really need to work to change.

The conversation often goes something like this:

Them: ‘My diet is actually pretty good.  I don’t eat, dairy, gluten and avoid wheat.  I don’t eat too many carbs and I watch my fat intake.”

Me: “Why do you avoid wheat and diary?’

Them: ‘I don’t know really, it’s just better for me right?’

Me: ‘So it’s not an intolerance issue that you know of?’

Them: ‘No’.

Me: ‘How much protein do you eat daily?’

Them: ‘Not sure, but I’m careful not to eat too much meat, what with all that stuff in the press about cancer’.

Me: ‘Ok.  And you keep your carbs low… where do you get most of these from?’

Them: ‘I’m not sure really, but I don’t eat bread, pasta, rice and I avoid sugar, including too much fruit’.

Me: ‘And how is this making you feel?’

Them: ‘Well, I feel tired quite a lot and I’m not losing weight, which is a bit depressing. ‘

This is a truncated version but hopefully it gets the main points across. We’ve been reduced to fear of food.  Many us us are at the point where we’re not eating a balanced diet because we’ve been convinced that things most and certain food groups are bad for us.  We all need adequate protein, we all need some degree of carbohydrates (activity level being the main determining factor) and we all need good fats.  The key is to gain an understanding which and in what proportions works for you, not just follow mainstream lunacy.

No diet that leaves you feeling tired and depressed is a good one, regardless of what the mainstream messages are and what the latest single study performed on eight people for two days bears out. Also, if we’re (probably needlessly) avoiding certain foods and we’re limiting or further excluding others, what are we actually eating?  It’s madness.  That’s just a super-low calorie diet; one that probably worked at the beginning but is now leaving you feeling like shit most of the time.

Your diet should be focused on eating the things your body needs (and wants), both in terms of nutrient requirements and overall calories, not avoidance of everything.  It’s an ongoing process which takes time and trial and error, but it’s the only way to find out what works for you, and we have to take individual responsibility in working it out.