March is National Nutrition Month.
In honor of this annual nutrition celebration, we thought it would be fun to do a top 10 on past trends in nutrition to highlight just how far nutrition has come since we started Nutrition Energy.
1. Gone are the days when nutrition messaging included the mantra that eggs are bad for us because they contain cholesterol. Science has shown and The American Heart Association agrees that dietary cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern and we recommend whole eggs (rather than egg whites) for most, as the yolks contain half of the protein of the egg along with much needed vitamin D, the antioxidant lutein and all nine essential amino acids.
2. Each of us can and should include foods from our unique cultural background and traditions, despite our health, medical or performance needs. In 2017 the self reported ethnic composition of nutrition and dietetics professionals was reported to be 85% white, 5% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 3% black and 2% other, while 94% identified as female. That said, we are excited to report that there has been a slow and steady rise among Dietitians who are men and of different cultural backgrounds, and are exited to watch our profession continue to diversify and meet the needs of all!
3. On the topic of fueling athletes, we are excited by the shift from the Female Athlete Triad, (which defined and explained the interconnection between disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis), to the more inclusive, RED-S, (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport). RED-S addresses the fact that not only females, but also males and all gender athletes can fall into low energy availability and also expands the definition to include all bodily systems adversely affected by under-fueling, including bone health, slowed metabolism, decreased immune function, poor recovery, impaired muscle protein synthesis, mood disturbance (anxiety/depression) as well as endocrine and cardiac disturbances.
4. Reject the Diet Mentality! It has now been proven time and time again that dieting and a diet mentality does more harm than good. Consistent dieting increases the risk of developing unhealthy eating patterns and disordered eating and is associated with worse overall health outcomes. Focusing on healthy behaviors and patterns is the best and only way towards true health - both physically and mentally.
5. Say goodbye to fat-free foods! Fat-free foods were mistakenly marketed as healthier choices than their full-fat counterparts in terms of weight loss and reducing heart disease risk. Thankfully, we have research to prove that low-fat diets may only serve to increase rates of Obesity, CVD, and TG as well as other lipid biomarkers, and that including 25-35% of our daily intake from fats is a good thing!
6. Carbs are our friend! After screaming it from the rooftops for years, we are thrilled that more people are realizing and understanding that carbohydrates provide us with necessary fuel for our muscles and brain to function, both for everyday functioning and to fuel exercise performance. If you, or anyone you know are still struggling to embrace the necessity of carbs in your life please reach out and we’d happy to explain more and help you realize the beauty of increased energy, mood and performance.
7. Sugar-free is not all is was cracked up to be. Most individuals, including those with diabetes, do not need to choose sugar free foods. We like to teach that overall nutritional balance is much more important in terms of blood sugar control and overall health. Choosing complex carbs + proteins + fat + fiber at all meals leads to better blood glucose control and better tasting meals too.
8. Vegetarians and vegans CAN obtain adequate protein -even as athletes. It certainly takes some planning, but including a variety of beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains with most meals will help you to reap the benefits of consuming a more plant based diet (healthier and more diverse gut microbiome, lower cholesterol and better blood sugar) no matter what your other nutrition and performance goals might include.
9. "Clean eating” should not be a term! This type of all of nothing thinking literally feeds back into diet mentality and increased guilt about eating and risk of falling into disordered eating patterns including orthorexia. Reject this mentality and learn to eat freely in moderation with no barriers to fuel your body for a healthy lifestyle!
10. Cleanses are not necessary. While cleanses may be heavily marketed and promise everything from weight loss to mental clarity, there is no need for us humans to cleanse and no reason to believe these claims. Furthermore, most cleanses fall far short of meeting your total protein and fat needs required for optimal health and actually serve only to cause muscle breakdown and loss of lean body mass. Skip the cleanses and save your money; and instead focus on eating a wide variety of foods including whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, lentils nuts, seeds and lean proteins.
The bottom line is that Nutrition is a Science, not an opinion, and while the field of nutrition is constantly evolving, some aspects remain constant. Variety and diversity (among both foods and dietetics professionals) will always be a good idea, as is including all food groups as well as a wide variety of plant foods and avoiding diets and nutrition fads of all kinds. As always, we at Nutrition Energy are here to help you sift through all the BS and focus on what is actually true and practice and that which will help you lead your best life.