Gaynor and Fad Diets

Our workplace well-being expert , Gaynor, was on BBC radio Coventry and Warwick yesterday at about 10.10 am talking about fad diets.  

Here are some of the points about the diets she was talking about: 

Nordic diet

There has indeed been some research to show how this diet can bring about positive effects on health.  As someone said; it is like the colder climate version of the Med. Diet.  It is not low fat, but the fats are good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated ones like rapeseed oil and oily fish.  It is also high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols (such as from berries) which can help ward of cancers and heart disease.

Reducetarian diet

This makes a lot of sense: it means choosing to eat less meat, but not cut it out altogether.  This is great for the environment and may help us to be a bit more healthy- especially again for heart health and cancers.  Meat has some important minerals, including iron, so no need to cut it out altogether, but the amount we currently eat laves a large carbon footprint.

20/20 diet

This diet is unrealistic to follow and there is absolutely no need to follow the crazy rules.  For example why cut out grains-they say it is because we are often allergic to them-not true!  A third of people claim to have an intolerance or allergy these days, but actually the real level is more like 2% in adults.  And as for downing some ridiculous green concoction’s-yuck. 

Juice diets for detox

These diets seem to appear every January with the promise you can detox using them.  Rubbish! the only thing that will detox you are your liver and kidney and they do a far better job than any juice.  Fine, if you fancy drinking your food now and then, but did you know that calories drunk don’t tend to get recognised by the body, so you don’t get the satisfaction of feeling you have eaten something and so end up feeling like something you can chew on afterwards!

Other diets

I’ve seen Davina promoting a sugar free diet-but it was full of maple syrup and honey, so hardly sugar free!  Sugar is not the only nutrient we need to be concerned about but it doesn’t hurt to cut down on total sugars (maple syryp and honey included) to some extent.

Going gluten free: many are doing this as they feel it is ‘healthier’ and they will lose weight. Why? There is no evidence for either and you can miss out on important fibre and other nutrients. Plus, if you buy gluten free foods, they are expensive.  Only avoid gluten if you have been diagnosed as coeliac or have a diagnosed gluten intolerance.

The paleo diet (eat like a caveman) is still around, but it seems there was never a consistent paleo diet and experts say that cavemen just needed to survive their best for their short lifespan, not eat to have a healthy life beyond the age of about 30!

Intermittent fasting or 5:2 is also still around but evidence for its success is still wanting.  With sub-optimal calories consumed twice a week, you may become deficient in several important nutrients and eating so few calories can result in uncomfortable side effects such as headaches, constipation, irritability and hunger.

Another one Gaynor doesn’t like is the raw food diet because it is so restrictive (hence can leave you short of nutrients) and anti-social.  The diet also encourages consumption of unpasteurised dairy foods and uncooked fish and meat which can lead to foodborne illnesses such as Listeria and E. coli.


Some of these diets have elements that are OK, and actually quite good, but then you may as well just eat a balanced diet containing all the food groups (dairy, fruit and veg. protein and wholegrain starchy foods,) watching portions sizes if wanting to lose weight and avoiding too many foods that are sugary and high in saturated fats.  Avoid gimmick diets that promise the earth and mean you can’t eat with friends and family.  And try not to drink too many of your calories whether from alcohol, sugary sodas or juices.