17 February 2012

Food fads by choice

This has been on my mind for some time now. Fad diets and elimination of food by choice. I read an article about it on Sunday and nodded along to the words, and also received some judgment about my own food this week. I'm going to come right out and say it.

If you're on a sugar/dairy/gluten free diet by choice, don't try to guilt me for my generally good choices. FFS. Sick of your judgment & grumpiness. Go eat something delicious and cheer up.

Most of the food I eat I cook from scratch. I can say that I know most ingredients I put into my cooking. That is, I try to only use whole foods. It's rare that I cook with pre-made sauces or even pasta now. I use fresh (and sometimes frozen) vegetables, fresh fruit, (mostly) organic free range meat, fish, olive oil, plain yoghurt, rice, duck eggs, organic milk (I have been using Elgaar milk from Tasmania lately), beans, lentils and barley, oats, flour, herbs and spices, and nuts. I occasionally buy bread, and it's only these past few weeks I've had icecream in the freezer. I don't drink coffee and only drink herbal tea, and don't add sugar to my foods or drinks. I find it hard to find a late night snack in my fridge or pantry because I don't keep biscuits or chips, and the only chocolate I have is Green and Black's dark orange. Sometimes I drink coke and other soft drinks but I also drink about three litres of water a day. Cheese is my weakness.

I eat whole foods because they make me feel good and happy. Over-processed foods make my tummy sore. I know I am getting the goodness I need from whole foods without added nasties. And I also never feel guilty when I dine out or eat a cake at work once a fortnight for afternoon tea.

Though I don't exercise as much as I should, my BMI is between low and average, I have a fast metabolism and feel pretty healthy.

In the past week these are some of the things that I've cooked and eaten. 
Chicken with a salad of mango, tomato, corn off the cobb, spinach, capsicum and lime juice, with a side of quinoa. Roast lamb chops with broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes and beetroot. Half an apple scroll, strawberries and pineapple, and muesli on Yalla yoghurt. Vegetable fritters made from squash, pumpkin, spinach and corn off the cobb topped with mayonnaise. Yum! And I can name almost every ingredient except for the spices on the chicken, the ingredients within the mayonnaise and the apple scroll.

Food confessional over.

So when people who are on fad diets by CHOICE, I don't appreciate them tsk-tsking my own food choices. The sugars in my fruit, or my full fat dairy or the additives in my mayonnaise are none of your business. My belief is that I eat such a balanced diet that the occasional food with hidden sugar or salt or transfats (whatever they are?) doesn't matter. It's like when people are on these food elimination diets by choice, their attitude becomes holier than thou, and they are obsessed with what they and others eat.

I am finding the rise in these food choice/elimination fads - no gluten, no sugar, no dairy - are making people a bit grumpy, very judgmental, quite boring, and often difficult at meal times. I am wondering if these food elimination diets are a new form of eating disorder?
Continuing on from Mia Freedman's piece - I also wonder if food elimination is done to be trendy? While I am about to set foot into controversial territory, I wonder whether all food allergies exist. I was talking with my dermatologists and allergy specialists about food allergies - they find it strange that I don't suffer from any food allergies, yet am very susceptible to them. They also said that they believe many people don't actually have a true food allergy. 

I was reading a blog post a while back, by a nutritionist (I am sorry I don't have it to link to now though) that outlined the panic surrounding eating full fat dairy. The post detailed the nutrients in dairy, and then made the point that people shouldn't be panicking about eating fresh whole foods, but processed foods, like the ones that come in packets and tubes. Like avocado in a tube or cheese in a can. 

Here's my food philosophy:

Cook meals with ingredients that you can see. As in - fresh, whole foods. 

Cook simple meals. It doesn't take long to chop some vegies, steam some fish and put together a delicious fish taco.

Whole foods doesn't mean boring.

Eat for health. 

Eat for happiness. 


I am going to cook dinner now. I am having salmon and leftover mango salad. What's the sugar content in that?

PS - a friend asked me if I eat McDonalds, given that most of my diet is pretty good. Yes. Yes I eat McDonalds and am quite partial to a Quarter Pounder. 


  1. I hear you! Especially the no sugar diet. As in eliminating all sugars including those in fruits. WTH? Looks like a fad to me. I eat everything in moderation, while I do eat pizza with cheese and other dairy, I do skip milk - I do have an intolerance to lactose. But, I don't diss it. I simply take my tablets before I ingest anything that has dairy or just avoid it altogether.
    I agree with the fact that we need to have everything in moderation. If you cook your own meals most of the time, then you won't feel guilty, bad or negative about eating out on the odd occasion. Am quite sick of people ranting about what you can and cannot eat really. Food should be enjoyed not despised.

  2. eh, i thought mia lumping lactose intolerants with other food elimination people (like people who give up gluten when they arent intolerant or sugar, people who eliminate BY CHOICE) to be a bit unfair. i have to drink lactose-free milk and have had to give up pretty much all dairy 6 years ago otherwise, to put it quite frankly, im running to the toilet with the runs and incredibly painful stomach pain. im not doing it to be cool or lose weight or because it's some fad! my boyfriend has been on food elimination diets for over 10 years and is allergic to practically everything. we're probably a pain to go out and dine with but unfortunately if we dont eliminate certain food groups or whatever, we're very sick. mind you, we dont rant or rave about it either, we simply polite decline food when we cant eat it and eat what we enjoy with much gusto!

    im all for eating as naturally as possible. lots of fresh fruit, veges, meat in moderation and if wanting sweet things to bake them ourselves. i AM a sucker for that avocado in a tube though, it's great ;)

    1. Are there preservatives in the tubes avo Mimi?
      I think Mia's post was very controversial - there are over 600 comments on there.

  3. I don't see what's wrong with reducing something like refined sugar from your diet. I try to eat as little of it as possible (only refined - natural sugar doesn't count), as well as artificial sweeteners, because of how awful they make me feel after I eat it. I don't have an intolerance or an allergy, I just think they're bad for me. I will give my reasons to people if we're having a discussion about the subject, but I don't sit there going on and on about it when nobody's asked.

    Now it seems like everyone is lumping people who cut things out for general health into the "preachy" corner!

    1. Absolutely Jenna - I cut down on my refined sugar for health purposes. But I am talking about those who cut sugar entirely out - like they don't even eat fruit.

  4. You eat so healthy!!!
    Excellent post Carly!x

  5. Great post Carly, totally agree. It's funny where you mention McDonalds at the end because these days I find people judge you if you say you like McDonalds, and if you do then somehow you're a bad person. I grew up in a country town where we got it maybe once a year and it was a special treat. i still think of it like that now, not as an every day food. And If I want to have my MCChicken then I damn well will and enjoy it!!!

    1. Hah! I grew up in a country town too and only had Maccas at birthday parties.
      I didn't eat KFC until I was 15 and came to see Savage Garden in Melbourne.
      And thank you :)

  6. Carly! I think I love you more each day! I'm a dietitian by background. I love and believe in whole, good food and eating a healthy balanced diet. So, you go for it girl!! Continue to nourish your body with variety and goodness.

    1. Aww thank you for the lovely comment :) And encouragement from a dietician is really great.
      I am going to eat some Maggie Beer burnt fig and caramel icecream now.

    2. As another dietitian, I love this post too Carly.

      I think there are a couple of reasons for these fad diets (excluding those with diagnosed medical conditions)
      - people are bored of the "whole foods, everything in moderation" message and feel that the answer to their problems is much more complex than that
      - rise in the number of pseudo health professionals with limited health/science knowledge advising restrictive diets left right and centre based on blood type, skin analysis, looking at someone's tongue

      I think the reason people feel better on these no sugar/no gluten/no whatever diets is that it automatically makes them choose more whole foods (generally) and cuts out a lot of the processed junk foods they were eating before - of course they will feel better!

  7. Oh no ... a subject I could write about for hours having been on both ends of the spectrum.

    But all I'm going to say is "when did what I eat become so interesting and important to someone else?" It's none of their business. It ranks up there with religion for me -- enjoy it however you want just don't try to make me a convert.

    My philosophy, after being a competitive body builder AND recovering from bulimia, is simple. I believe that it's all in our heads ... in the same way that fear makes us nauseous and being in a foreign city makes us constipated ... our thoughts influence our bodies.

    Eat the chocolate with love and acceptance and your body will digest it, use what it needs and get rid of the rest (after all that's what we're designed to do).

    Eat the brussell sprouts with resentment because you'd rather be eating cake and you'll have no end of digestive distress.

    Eat the way you live -- with love, variety and occasionally wild abandon. Eat heartily without guilt, without shame, and without the regret that comes from suffering through another day without creamy full fat milk and brown sugar on your porridge.

    Here endeth the lesson xxxxx

  8. I read Mia Freedman's article too and like you, I agreed with her. I don't eliminate entire foods or food groups from my diet, but I do avoid things that make my belly uncomfortable. Apart from that I eat pretty much what I want. I eat for "happy" as well as for health.

  9. I think we've lost a lot of our social graces. I would never comment on what other people eat as I just think it's a little bit rude!
    People constantly laugh at me because there are so many foods that I dislike (especially green vegies), but I try to eat whole foods and stick to grainy bread. My weight constantly fluctuates depending on medications so that also changes what I do and don't eat. I can't help it, I just have to put up with it!

  10. The ladies that I work with are pretty much all doing the same diet at the moment, and I'm considered kind of a freak for not doing it. What annoys me about this diet is that it promotes cutting out all sugar, including natural sugars found in fruits, and all carbohydrates. I'm going to continue eating a balance diet of mostly fresh, whole foods thanks. I don't trust any diet that asks you to completely eliminate a particular type of nutrient from your diet for no medical or scientific reason.

  11. "... processed foods, like the ones that come in packets and tubes. Like avocado in a tube or cheese in a can."

    Avocado in a tube ... aw, gosh, I just bought a couple dozen packages of Wholly Guacamole. Why should I avoid packages of guacamole?

    Jim Purdy

  12. I don't get the fad and extreme diets. My parents have gone through all sorts of weird diets, pritikin, no carbs, diet shakes are three I remember from my childhood - along with being sent to a dietician at age 12 because OMG I was a size 12!

    Currently my parents are on a zero salt diet as in no salt in any food, they even order specially made salt free bread from the bakery.

    I don't get it.

    And my parents food guilt tactics make me angry, when my 8yo asked for sushi and a can of fanta for lunch my father told her she was having a can of sugar with her plate of salt! Picture steam coming out my ears as I told annie is was okay to have the can of fanta as it was the first soft drink she had drunk in over a week and we were having a special treat lunch. I then turned to my father and told him point blank that sushi with soy sauce was a far better option than McDonalds or other fast food and he shouldn't comment on what Annie was eating.

    My 7yo is nut allergic, we carry an epipen for her and dairy products give her diarrhea so we avoid those. But I want my kids to have healthy understanding of food, food isn't evil, it is about choice and understanding what is good for your body and what is not.

  13. I'm sure I eat too much fat, too much salt and too much sugar - but I eat 5 serves of vegies a day and 2 serves of fruit. I cook mostly from scratch, my weight is spot on where it should be. I'm sure I could eat healthier, but I LOVE food, I'm a foodie, it makes me happy to cook and eat something delicious, so like you Carly I really don't appreciate being lectured by someone on a food crusade.

    I completely agree, people are free to make whatever eating decisions they make, but let me make me own!


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