COLUMN: Dealing with the diet dilemma

Over the past 50 years, diets have recommended the full gamut.

Over the past 50 years, diets have recommended the full gamut: low calorie, low fat, high protein/low carb, high ‘good fat’, high fibre/low glycemic, no grains, no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no processed foods… and so on.

How do you know which nutritional plan will work best for you?

The daily question

Dr. Bryn Bentham, N.D. “People ask about diets on a daily basis, but my recommendation will depend on what problem we’re wanting to address. The most common diets people ask about are the paleo diet, wheat free/gluten free, raw food, FODMAPS (a diet for people with IBS), and basically what to eat when diagnosed with cancer (an area of interest of mine).”

Dr. Heidi Ingram, M.D. “Most people ask about gluten free diets or paleo these days. I don’t usually advise full elimination diets unless there’s a health reason for it, e.g. celiac disease or lactose intolerance. However if a person finds a particular food bothers them I advise cutting it out for a bit and then reintroducing in small amounts to test tolerance. Moderation is the key.”

Do diets work?

Dr. Bryn Bentham, N.D. “When I think about whether a diet works, I think about whether it’s sustainable for the person. Anyone can change their diet for a week or so, but when working with a disease process it needs to become the new normal for the patient.”

Dr. Heidi Ingram, M.D. “Weight loss supplements are often used in place of adopting healthy eating and exercise habits in the search for a quick or easy fix. They generally don’t work and certainly don’t produce long lasting results. People are better off making healthy lifestyle changes and spending their money on wholesome food and physical activity.”

Anonymous woman, 22, who changed her diet for health reasons and weight loss was a by-product.

Motivation for Change

“The reason for changing my diet was because I was constantly sick and always had stomach pains after eating. With my doctors help I began eliminating things from my diet and found that avoiding gluten, wheat, malt and barley fixed these issues.”

Weight loss misconception

“I never started eating this way to lose weight as it was more of a health concern. In my opinion eating ‘gluten free’ to lose weight is a big misconception because a lot of the gluten free options available are not any healthier than regular products. Basically I started eating this way because I had to in order to feel normal!”

Best recipe for success

Dr. Bryn Bentham, N.D. “The most important thing for long term success by far is whether or not the diet is enjoyable. Enjoyable is a combination of the food tasting good and the person feeling good. There is a learning curve to changing how we eat, but facilitating that learning process, it is easily one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”

Dr. Heidi Ingram, M.D. “When making changes, do so gradually and give yourself time to adapt. That way you’re not overwhelmed and are more likely to make it a long term habit.

Also remember it’s perfectly fine to indulge in treats on occasion. I call it the 80:20 rule.

Aim to follow your healthy eating plan at least 80 per cent of the time.

That way if you have a night out and indulge, you’re not ‘punishing’ yourself and developing a negative relationship with food.”

Be sure to contact your doctor or naturopath to make sure you are following a safe plan that best suits your needs and goals.

Joanne Malar is the program coordinator for Summerland Recreation, three-time Olympic swimmer, 2012 Olympic Commentator, kinesiologist and holistic nutritionist.