Why I don’t think long-term restrictive diets are healthy.

Gluten, meat, dairy etc is really demonised in this day and age in the western world. People across the world who have been suffering many a gut related symptom have self-diagnosed themselves as gluten and dairy intolerant.

The rise of veganism has really shot up, due to beliefs that meat and animal products are killing us. A silly film which shall not be named brazenly claimed that eating an egg was equivalent to smoking cigarettes (?????) and that eating meat, and not carbohydrates is what causes type 2 diabetes (??????).

Many professionals specialising in the nutrition science arena have voiced their concerns regarding the negative impact of gluten, sugar, coconut oil, cheese, milk etc on human health.

Even though I agree that gluten is definitely not great for people (especially those with auto-immune disorders and leaky gut), and that a large portion of the world’s population have a problem processing dairy products, I’m not a fan of eating a restricted diet.

The caveat is, only if it is really necessary, and even then, it should be implemented therapeutically for the shortest time possible.

There are many reasons I don’t like long term restriction.

1. I believe long term restriction of foods can lead to increased sensitivity towards the foods you are avoiding. That is what you are training your immune system to do.

2. The more varied your diet is, the more varied your gut bacteria is going to be. The benefit of having a diverse microbiome is that you have a stronger immunity towards BAD bacteria, pathogens, toxins and better digestive health (IBS people, take note). You also allow yourself to receive a variety of nutrients, which means better health function overall.

3. You could be developing an eating disorder called orthorexia, which Merriam Webster dictionary defines as the following:
‘An obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods that they believe to be harmful’.
While this actually sounds like a good problem to have, it can actually create a vicious cycle of higher stress surrounding food and eating. Remember what I said about how stress makes you fat here?

4. The more you stress about food, you increase your stress load. The bigger your stress load, is the more impaired your body’s ability is to tolerate, digest and absorb said foods.

Of course, as mentioned before, I do strongly believe in restriction diets for therapeutic purposes for a limited period of time. This is so that you give your body a rest from excess inflammatory substances. And even when your symptoms improve and you CAN reintroduce the offending foods, it is best to not make these foods part of your daily routine.

Let’s clarify.

When I am referring to not restricting food for long periods of time, I am referring to WHOLE, HEALTHY, REAL FOOD. I am NOT suggesting that you should make trans fats, processed foods, sugary and/or deep fried foods as part of your diet in any way. If you MUST eat these foods, please eat them very occasionally and in small amounts, as there is no health benefit to be gained, however I know life gets, and I do not want to encourage a binge/guilt cycle. Eat your damn cookie and be done with it, but no, it does not have any health benefits, and be aware of that.

Also, if you KNOW for a fact that you are allergic to certain foods (i.e you will need medical attention), please know this post does not apply to you. You do not need to test the boundaries.

If you know your state of health is stable, have a small portion of that food you restricted, if it provides nutrients, and isn’t making you sick. Build up your diversity and immunity, slowly. Your body will thank you for it.

Also, your state of health is always developing. As your health improves, your ability to tolerate and properly digest foods improves too. The key is to take it slow, and really listen to your body.

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