Diet culture can be seriously cringy. While we totally support all forms of self-love (which, by the way, is a lot more than doing a face mask), there are extremes that can do more harm than good. Everything in moderation, we tend to think.
Taking stock of your physical and emotional health, addressing your needs, and nourishing yourself are pillars of wellness, so naturally we are always exploring the newest diets to see what we can glean. Rachel Swanson, MS, LDN, and registered dietitian, dished with us on a few super buzzy diets that very (like, very) few people should dive headfirst into.
You might have heard of the carnivore diet for weight loss. Correct. Forget about fiber, phytonutrients, or superfoods. Just eat meat, for every meal, all the time, and drop some lbs. Yikes.
Swanson explains how it works: “The carnivore diet consists of very high protein and virtually zero carbs. It’s not surprising that the carnivore diet is conducive to weight loss—in fact, removing everything in the diet except for meat will result in a natural reduction in caloric intake, and is likely quite satiating too.” But does that make it good for you? She (and we) think not.
“There are health benefits that come along with weight loss and caloric restriction, undoubtedly. But there is no scientific evidence to suggest this type of diet is beneficial. It’s a rather contrarian approach to the fundamental truths established for human nutrition and longevity,” Swanson shares. Such as other nutrients.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the vegan diet. But hold on—this is a far cry from bashing veganism or plant-based eating. We are big fans of eating plants (see our opinion on that above). Swanson just wants to debunk the perspective “that a diet has to be an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to animal intake, especially if it comes at the expense of making inferior dietary decisions.”
Of course, eating predominantly plant-based is going to show you unequivocal results, and Swanson can vouch for that. “But even among elite vegan clientele with infinite resources, this pattern rarely translates to a well-planned, balanced, whole foods-based, minimally processed diet.” Instead, people turn to what Swanson calls “notoriously bad actors, like heavy refined carbs intake, liberal use of coconut oil, fresh-pressed juices containing sugar equivalent to a soda, highly processed snack foods, and vegan desserts packaged with endless marketing allure.”
We feel seen. But also attacked. You mean to tell us the vegan Whopper from BK isn’t healthy just because it’s vegan? But what will we tell our hungover selves on such occasions? Again, everything in moderation, but real, whole foods (and mostly plants) will lead to better long-term lifestyle benefits than any extreme can manage. Swanson’s favorite diets? The Mediterranean for lots of healthy fats and fresh veggies, or something she calls “flexitarian,” which is mindful, mostly plant-based eating.