It’s not too often that we associate being healthy with things that can ‘go wrong’ but it can happen.
The western world seems to be on a newfound mission to increase their overall health and wellbeing and there are different dietary theories, new foods and new healthful lifestyle choices being introduced to the public or finding new purchase in the market.
Sometimes though, it doesn’t end well. Whether it’s seemingly healthy foods that can cause distress on our bodies or marketing designed to pull the wool over our eyes, there are a few healthy food’s we need to watch out for.
1. Chia seed overload
Chia seeds swell up to over three times their size and absorb an exorbitant amount in water to their size. Gastrointestinal problems are one of the most common side effects of chia seeds. The scope of potential gastrointestinal problems associated with eating chia seeds is wide, ranging from constipation and hard stools to diarrhoea, bloating and excessive intestinal gas. It’s important to up your water intake and soak your chia seeds if you’re going to be adding these true super-foods to your diet.
2. Nut’s about nuts
Aaahhh the ‘raw-food’ nut-addict. Eating raw food has a huge amount of benefits, however there are a few foods, that when eaten in large quantities can cause you more distress. Nuts can be one of them.
There’s a good reason Pete Evan’s was activating his ‘nuts’. Nuts have a substance called ‘phytic acid’ or ‘phytates’ within them.
Phytates are ‘enzyme inhibitors’, which means that they actually make it harder for the body to extract all of the goodness out of the nut before it passes out the other end.
These are the same phytates found in the husk of grains such as wheat and can cause inflammation in the guts of sensitive individuals who may be trying to repair their digestive system by removing grains and phytate containing foods from their diet.
While soaking the nut does unlock some of these enzyme inhibitors, when you eat slices of raw nut cheesecake all the time (one slice housing up to 25 nuts) you can actually be causing distress to your tummy by trying to eat foods that heal it. Eeek.
Eating a raw labne cheesecake may actually be much better for you.
3. Detoxing and cleansing
Most women who detox or cleanse aren’t actually doing it for the health benefits. The subject of detoxing or cleansing allows women who want to shift a few kilo’s to have a safe reason why they aren’t eating the way that they usually would be.
Unfortunately what happens then because the body is starved of fibre, fat and protein, is that most people will binge on the other side of a cleanse.
The human body is a complete cleansing and detoxifying system in itself and doesn’t need to be deprived of food to cleanse. All you need to remove for the body to be able to cleanse itself of toxic build up and overload are inflammatory food-groups (Gluten, dairy, sugar, hydrolysed oils, alcohol) and chemical ingredients.
Your body will not only begin to cleanse itself (fancy that) of toxic overload, your immune system will be better supported and you will feel emotionally more well.
4. ‘Meal Replacement’
Meal replacement shakes were originally created for those people who could not or would not eat ‘real food’. I’m talking those with severe eating disorders or those who physically couldn’t chew and whose dietary intake was inadequate. Where nutrients were not being ingested through real food (the elderly, post-operations or the physically injured in some way that prevented them from eating).
Billed as a ‘next-level’ nutrition and weight-loss tool, diet or meal replacement shakes seem to have all the nutrients needed to sustain adequate health, but they are also typically packed with hidden sugars (dextrose, sucrose, maltodextin, glucose) and also soy by-products.
They spike the blood insulin and leave the ‘drinker’ feeling more fatigued and hungry after the body absorbs the high GI ingredients.
At some stage meal replacement shakes became a way for women to get the body they always wanted? Except they didn’t/don’t work as the diet industry is the most successfully unsuccessful industry of all time and nearly 100% of women who go on a shake or meal replacement diet to lose weight will put it (and more) back on in the longterm.
It’s largely unsustainable to swap meals for shakes over the longterm and if your diet isn’t something you can sustain for life, you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it. If it’s not for a short-term medical reason then I recommend you get off the shake train and start eating real food again.
The way we eat is primarily linked to our emotions, so begin by learning more about who you really are before you try to ‘cover-up’ areas of yourself you don’t like using ‘quick-fix’ solutions.
5. Obsessive rigidity in your overall eating habits
While it is wonderful for your overall health to follow a clean, whole-foods based diet, when diet and exercise habits negatively impact other areas of your life (be it relationships, mood or being able to maintain a life outside of the lifestyle choice) is when obsessively healthy eating becomes an issue. This is now classified by the term ‘orthorexia’. Orthorexia is 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.
If your eating habits are rigid and:
- stop you from eating out due to food choices you label unhealthy
- you won’t eat ‘forbidden’ or ‘bad’ foods even though you want to
- you’re tired or constantly obsessing over what you’re going to have for your next meal
then these are all symptoms of orthorexia.
6. The gluten-free brainwash
Many gluten-free foods that would typically be made with grain flour, such as pasta and bread are made with high starch ‘fillers’ like potato or corn starch. While these aren’t necessarily bad for you in small amounts, if you simply swap out slices of bread and big bowls of pasta with bowls of starch, you will encounter insulin spikes from the high glycemic index (GI) starches.
They are almost non-nutrients and so may feel flat, tired and hungry again within a short period of time. If you need or want to remove gluten from your diet, instead of swapping them for other ‘filler’ foods, try completely new ones (Amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa for e.g) and a new real whole-food routine.
7. Overdosing on Probiotics
Probiotics denote a substance which stimulates the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties (such as those of the intestinal flora). When we add probiotics to our diet we are aiming to increase the balance of bacteria in the gut and digestive system. However even ‘good’ bacteria can do bad things if we have too much of it.
If we’re chugging too many kombucha’s, or swallowing a lot of kefir, or even eating too much lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a sitting, this can lead to a condition called ‘die-off’ whereby so many so-called ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut are killed so quickly that it throws out the balance of our whole digestive system. This can leave us feeling extreme lethargy, head-achy and even nauseated.
It’s important to go slow and start small with and probiotic coming from food used as a functional medicine.
// The bottom line is this, don’t believe everything that marketing tells you, educate yourself and remember that typically, too much of anything can be harmful.