Eat Me? Drink Me? Advice on Eating Healthily
How to avoid falling down the rabbit hole of online nutritional advice and eat healthily
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information about nutrition in the media and on social media. It seems like every week there is a new trend, a new diet or a new superfood. Should we go for low sugar or low fat? Should we detox or fast? Should we go gluten or dairy free? The choices are endless and advice can be conflicting.
Here are my tips on how to best discern the mass of information and make it work for you.
Look at who is giving the advice - marketing can take many shapes and forms, from direct advertising to sponsoring research, to sending freebies to social media influencers in exchange for a positive plug. Advice may not be as independent as it first seems. We also find it easy to fall into what psychologists call ‘the halo effect’: when we like someone we are more likely to follow what they say or do. A celebrity giving nutritional advice is not the same as getting advice from someone trained in that field.
If something looks too good to be true it probably is - there are no shortcuts to living a healthy lifestyle. No gadget, pill or superfood can perform a health miracle on our behalf. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and looking after our mental health are key to looking and feeling good.
Listen to your granny - there is nothing new about eating well. Being told to eat our greens and not to eat too many sweets is as relevant now as when we were children. If you look at the diets our grandparents had, it was based on home cooking, often using home-grown vegetables and fruit. They would eat three meals a day, rarely snacking in-between, and the main meal comprised of ‘meat and two veg’. We know now varying the source of protein allows us to consume a broader range of essential amino acids, but the rest of the advice is still largely relevant.
Listen to your body - we generally know what suits us. There are some foods that we find difficult to digest or make us feel unwell (including excess alcohol!) and so eating less of these foods seems appropriate. Intolerances and allergies should be taken seriously when deciding on our diet but don’t feel the need to cut out food groups to follow a fad.
Add as well as subtract - following fads could lead to a very restricted diet. Instead think about what you can add into your diet. Drinking more water and herbal teas, having an extra portion of vegetables at each meal and snacking on fruit and nuts brings us closer to eating a balanced diet and gives us variety.
Nutrition doesn’t need to be confusing!
Nikki Biddiss BSc (Hons), MNIMH is a Medical Herbalist, Aromatherapist and Cognitive Coach. She co-owns and runs a herbal clinic and shop, Napiers the Herbalists in Glasgow. Follow Napiers Glasgow on Instagram and Facebook.