The bad diet tips and health advice we're ditching this year
Another year, another 12 months of diet advice.
2016 hasn't been as bad other recent years – there's been no goji berry or kale craze – but we've still had five real doozies.
1. EAT FAT
For decades we were told to avoid fat completely, but this year health experts have been telling us that fat is good.
This is absolutely true: fat is scientifically proven to be good for us, and can actually aid in weight loss. However, lots of people have taken this advice too far.
Dozens of studies have shown how "higher-fat", low-carb diets are superior to low-fat diets, but this year people have taken this as licence to eat ALL the fat they want.
This is bad diet advice. Fat is still high in calories, and if you're on a very high fat diet, you're going to be consuming far more calories than you can expend.
2. MATCHA THIS
Though matcha never received the superfood hype as its predecessors, it has been added to everything this year, from desserts to lattes.
A form of green tea with anti-inflammatory properties with three times as much caffeine as regular tea, but there's been one real concern about matcha that hasn't received much airtime from its cult followers.
A green tea usually sourced from China, matcha has been shown to contain lead, which is absorbed from the environment it is grown in.
Around 90 per cent of lead stays in green tea leaves. Regular old green tea is steeped, and that leaf is thrown away. But with matcha, you ingest that whole leaf.
The watchdog Consumer Lab estimates a cup of matcha tea contains 30 times more lead than a cup of green tea. It warns you should not have more than one serving of it per day, and you shouldn't give it to children.
3. STOP SNACKING AND YOU'LL LOSE WEIGHT
Mindless snacking – e.g. munching on a bag of crisps at your desk – is definitely not good for you. But the weight loss advice we've heard this year to stop snacking in-between meals altogether is flawed.
Healthy snacks like an apple or a handful of almonds can give you a boost of energy and prevent your tummy from rumbling. This, in turn, makes you less hungry when it comes to actual mealtimes.
When your scheduled main meals do come around, it's likely you'll have smaller portions because you haven't been starving for hours.
If you don't have any snacks at all – the mantra of six small meals per day, rather than three large ones, still reigns – you might end up gaining weight because of how massive those three main meals are.
4. DRINK MILK ALTERNATIVES
Take a look at supermarket shelves and they're now full of milk alternatives. Soy, almond, coconut, almond-coconut, cashew, rice, pea, hemp... the list is endless.
Food and fitness bloggers are particularly guilty at recommending these "milks" over traditional dairy products. Trouble is, they are basically devoid of nutrients.
While cow's milk contains protein and is high in calcium, the same can't be said for milk alternatives. A glass of dairy milk has around eight grams of protein, and while nuts like almonds and cashews (and coconut) are also protein-rich, this nutrient is almost entirely washed away when milk alternatives are processed.
Soy milk does contain some protein, but lacks calcium. Unless unsweetened, these milk alternatives often also contain added sugar as one of their ingredients.
5. GO GRAIN-FREE
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that removing all grains – including brown rice, quinoa, and the like – is good for you.
Gluten-free eating is certainly not new, but this year it reached new heights as the term "grain-free" trended as an evolution of gluten-free.
It piggybacks onto "clean eating" and other 2016 fads, and is upheld by a myth that is actually decades old: that carbs are bad for you.
Grains in some form are essential. The body needs a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and going completely grain-free means you'll miss out on the latter and have an unbalanced nutritional intake.
If you're gluten intolerant or sensitive, by all means seek out alternative grain options that suit you – corn (and breads made from corn) is a good one. If your body has no aversion to grains whatsoever, there's absolutely no reason not to eat them.