When it comes to the new year, few things are as high on that list of resolutions as a dietary overhaul. But with the rise of evangelical ‘clean eating’ tips and health-food marketing, it’s never been as hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Stay informed with our handy list of fads you might want to steer clear of.
The war on gluten
Gluten has proved the latest enemy in what Bake-Off contestant and food writer Ruby Tandoh calls “the modern cult of elimination dieting”. Sales of gluten-free foods in the UK rose to over £500 million in 2016, without little-to-no medical basis for mass wheat-intolerance. Unless you’re in the 1% of celiac disease sufferers, there’s no reason to ditch the dough.
The caveman diet
Those sympathetic to a ‘back-to-nature’ lifestyle may find the paleo diet appealing: cut out those pesky grains and diary to focus on nuts, seeds, grass-reared meat, and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Salt and coffee are off the cards too. Cutting down on your food groups might be counter-intuitive, though, since modern man’s adaptable digestive system was crucial to his survival and evolution beyond his simpler Paleolithic ancestors. Take this one with a pinch of salt. And maybe some coffee too.
The reign of avocado
It’s hard to believe the once-humble avocado hasn’t run its course, having found its way into everything on your brunch menu – alongside countless smoothies, ice creams, cocktails and moisturisers. The health benefits of this versatile fruit are hard to deny, pumping you full of vitamins and helping to maintain cholesterol levels, but it might be worth expanding your repertoire before the huge surge in demand causes a global shortage.
The 'right' kind of sugar
There’s something to be said for cutting down on refined sugars, but the recent trend for lavish ‘whole food’ or ‘raw’ desserts are usually choc-full of equally sweet replacements. There’s little evidence that alternatives like agave nectar or maple syrup are that much healthier than regular sugar canes, and can often trick you in a sweeter treat than you’d bargained for.