Regina George from “Mean Girls” went on an all-carb diet.
Admit it: you’ve probably thought about cutting out a food group at some point. Whether it’s due to a trendy diet (such as the “no grains, no dairy” Paleo diet) or on suspicion of a food intolerance or allergy.
But the question needs to be asked: is cutting out a food group actually going to help the situation?
Liz Beavis, a dietitian and nutritionist from Newtown Nutrition, had plenty to say on this topic, and her resounding message was this: before you do anything, chat with an expert first. Because you don’t want to miss out on that cupcake without a very good reason.
The issue with eliminating a food type from your diet without consulting a dietitian.
“A major concern is that by removing major food groups from your diet you are also reducing your intake of nutrients – such as vitamins and minerals – that these foods contain. For example, dairy is a major source of calcium, but also other nutrients such as zinc, vitamin A and riboflavin,” explains Beavis.
Plus, having an upset tummy and deciding to exclude bread for fear you’re gluten intolerant could only cause more problems.
“It could also just be coincidence that you feel better for removing that food. For example, if you are trying to eat dairy-free you may skip the pizza to avoid the cheese and feel better for it. But how do you know it was the cheese that’s the culprit? As well as avoiding cheese, you also skipped many other foods, flavours, fat and possible additives which might normally make you feel queasy after eating pizza.” (Post continues after gallery.)
Making an appointment with your dietitian with allow you to work with them to identify foods or food components that may set off your symptoms. This will allow you to properly alter your diet so that you’re still getting the appropriate nutrition.
For people who truly struggle with food intolerances and gut issues, what are some of the most uncomfortable symptoms?
If you feel that you might have an intolerance or allergy, identifying key symptoms will give you a better idea of whether you need to take your concerns to the next level.
“For some people, they experience what we call ‘urgency’ which is when you’ve got a signal that you need to go to the toilet, you need to go right that second, because they experience immediate diarrhoea. If they don’t get to a bathroom, it’s not pretty,” explains Beavis.
"Some people live on the over-the-counter medications that stop the diarrhoea, because they get diarrhoea every single day, and if they don’t take it, they don’t know what’s going to happen."
The best tips for people living with diagnosed food intolerances.
"Understanding your body and what affects it (both positively and negatively) will give you the confidence to thrive. Learn what foods and lifestyle factors influence your own symptoms. There is no magic one-size-fits-all diet. Most types of food intolerances are not able to be measured by standard medical tests," explains Beavis.
Our advice? See you GP or health professional before you think about cutting out food groups at random.
"Many people are worried that dietitians are the 'food police' who will judge them on what they eat, but that shouldn't be the case at all, your dietitian should help you to understand your health issues and create some strategies to address them. Find a dietitian who specialises in your health issues so you can receive expert and up-to-date advice."
Keeping a food diary of everything you eat and the symptoms you experience afterwards will be helpful for you and your health professional to identify what could be going on.
Have you cut out a food group? Why did you do it, and what were the results?