January diets to say goodbye to

Happy new year and happy new decade! Hopefully this is the decade that we say goodbye to restrictive diets. I’d love to see debunked terms like detox, cleanse and alkalising, stay well and truly in the past. If you’ve been following Enlivening Elle for a while, you hopefully already know that fad diets are largely too good to be true, and that restriction is not the way forwards. There are still a few ways diet culture can sneak in though, with buzzwords such as “immune-boosting” “hormone-balancing” and “fire-up” sounding positive, yet essentially meaningless or inaccurate. Here are three January diet trends to give a miss this year, and what to consider doing instead.

Drinking lemon water because “health”

I definitely went through a phase where I drank hot lemon and fresh ginger every morning. It is a tasty drink and is especially soothing if you’re feeling under the weather, with a bit of honey for sore throats. However, it won’t wake up your digestion, or cleanse, detox or alkalise your body. Actually, as lemon juice is acidic, and as such it can be damaging to your tooth enamel (1). 

Instead: Enjoy a variety of hot and cold drinks, based on your preference. If you like the taste of lemon water, then enjoy it for that, and not because you think it is a “healthier” option. If you are concerned about your teeth, try drinking through a (reusable) straw or drinking plain water straight after, and wait a few minutes before cleaning your teeth (2).

Joining a January food challenge just to lose weight

Trying out something like Veganuary is potentially a great way to try out plant based eating if you’re curious about it. These groups, whatever it is you are trying, are often inspiring and supportive. However, proceed with caution if you’re just going onto the Whole30 protocol because you feel guilty about what you ate over December. If you have a disordered relationship with food, or any other substances that you might have to cut out, it may be worth speaking to your GP and seeing if you can get a referral to an appropriate registered professional.

Instead: Try a challenge if you think it will make you creative in the kitchen or because you’re curious, rather than to restrict. Remember not to be hard on yourself if you do slip up -it isn’t about being perfect. And if you are wanting to make healthier changes in the new year, perhaps see what you can add instead. Maybe you can eat an extra portion of veg, aim for 30g fibre a day, or consume more oily fish and nuts.

Cutting out food groups

PSA: no food is inherently good or bad, vegetables contain carbohydrates and we eat food, not nutrients. You may have found for yourself that consuming slightly higher proportions of one kind of macronutrient over another feels good for your body -you might even be doing this unconsciously. That is fine if it works for you. What I would be cautious about is going to one extreme over another -say really low carbohydrate or fat. At the end of the day, all of these diet methods will have the potential to result in (initial and potentially temporary) weight loss for the simple reason you’ll probably eat less calories. You might, however, miss out on other important nutrients from the foods that you are cutting out.

Instead: Focus on foods that make you feel good. Looking at the Eatwell Guide (3) can give you a sense of relative portion sizes, or look to the Mediterranean diet for inspiration. 

I hope these suggestions will encourage you to start your year without feeling the need to restrict and punish yourself around food. If you’d like to see more diet myths debunked, and enjoy a self-love yoga flow beforehand, please join me for my New Year, Same AWESOME You event at Yogabomb York on January 12th. Find out more on my Facebook page, or book in via the Mindbody app.

As always, if you have any concerns relating to food, please seek out a registered healthcare professional. Your GP, whilst not trained in nutrition themselves, will be able to offer some advice or refer you onto the appropriate person if needed. If it is accessible to you, you can also speak to a Dietician or AFN-registered Nutritionist directly.

  1. W.G. Young, 2005. Tooth wear: diet analysis and advice.
  2. Cass J., Luminous Dentistry.
  3. Public Health England. The Eatwell Guide.

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