Health Hysteria

Words by Sarah Petty 
Art by Chloe Papas
Expertise from Marina Payne

It seems as though there’s a new way to achieve optimal health every day. It’s hard to keep up. Suddenly, foods we’ve been eating for centuries are suddenly slowly killing us. Menus and supermarkets are very difficult places, a maze of this week’s health foods, whether it’s coconut oil or hemp seeds, celery juice or gluten-free diets. In 2019 there are a lot of mixed messages about healthy eating. So I thought it was about time someone sat down with a dietician to set things straight and dispel some of these food fallacies and fantasies. Marina Payne, an accredited dietician and friend, offered her expertise.

Why do you think we get obsessed with new foods?

A lot of food obsessions stem from a lack of control in aspects of someone’s life. For those who feel out of control, food is something they can control. And of course, body image and weight issues is another huge problem with diet culture. But in general, people get obsessed with ‘health foods’ because they feel like they’re doing something really good for themselves, it makes them happy. But in reality, food is just food.  

How can you have a healthy attitude when changing the way you eat?

People can get really worked up about dieting when all you really need is balance. That means not labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It’s about intuitive eating, listening to your body and what it wants. It’s okay to give yourself permission to eat previously restricted foods. 

Why are people so against carbs and dairy? 

We’re told that we need low fat and low carb if we want to lose weight. That’s because we know carbs are made up of sugar or break down into sugar, and the media tells us that sugar is extremely bad for you. As for dairy, it’s the fat that people fear. The portrayal in the media and by health professionals play a large role in giving carbs and dairy such bad press. Even though carbs get broken down into sugar and dairy has fat it in, our brains and body need both. Foods aren’t evil but we need to know when to strike a balance.  

Would you like to reveal the truth behind any other food myths or trends?

There are so many huge food myths and trends. Like the Ketogenic diet, which is when people barely eat any carbs and just eat high fat and high protein. It’s all about achieving a metabolic state of ketosis, where your body becomes super efficient at burning fat for energy. When people do this diet, they tend to see huge weight loss because your body is using fats to produce energy instead of carbs. But with most diets that aren’t sustainable long term, a lot of people gain that weight back. Coconut oil was also a really bad food myth. It has just as much saturated fat as butter.

What do you recommend everyone adds to their daily food consumption?

A lot of people overthink food. At the end of the day, it’s about getting adequate nutrients and individuals usually meet the requirements because they eat a variety of foods. So, I would say only change your diet if you aren’t getting a lot of different food groups. Remember, it’s as simple as making sure you eat some fruit, veg, dairy and carbs. 

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