I can guarantee we’ve all heard the success stories of people eliminating carbs or gluten from their diets and losing a desirable amount of weight as well as gaining health benefits. These stories have likely made us consider adopting the diet ourselves without the supervision or guidance from a health professional. So, what’s the worst that can happen?
Eliminating food groups without a clinical diagnosis indicating it is necessary to do so can cause both negative physiological and psychological consequences. Many of the items people eliminate from their diets because they are deemed “bad for you” contribute nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. For example, people who choose to eliminate gluten from their diet may miss out on nutrients supplied by whole grains such as protein and fibre. If these are eliminated from the diet completely without the supervision of a registered dietitian or health professional, it may result in deficiencies in these nutrients which are known to fuel the body and prevent against digestive cancers (https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/what-are-health-benefits/whole-grains-important-source-essential-nutrients). Cutting out food groups and items may also put you at risk for not consuming adequate calories or vitamins and minerals. If the foods eliminated are not replaced with other sources of those nutrients, the individual may be at risk of becoming deficient in both nutrients and calories. This can lead to unhealthy weight loss, malnutrition, and decreased vitamin and mineral stores.
Not only can eliminating food groups and items from your diet without supervision cause physiological consequences, it can also cause negative psychological consequences. As we all know, food and eating is a frequent, social aspect of our daily lives. Cutting out food groups may take away the social aspect of meals and have drawbacks on your psychological health.
Case in point: if you are not clinically diagnosed with a condition that requires you to eliminate healthy food items or entire food groups, it may be unnecessary and unhealthy for you to cut out nutrients that are essential to your health. If you insist on cutting out food items and groups, please consider consulting a registered dietitian or other health professionals to monitor you throughout the process.
Written By: Cassandra Tessaro, Dietetic Intern & Fuel Up Nutrition Volunteer