One look at your social media feeds or local cafe menus will tell you elimination diets are increasingly popular – and yet there’s a growing number of high-profile food identities speaking out against the trend.
The latest voice to join the chorus is Donna Hay, whose bestselling cookbooks can be found in just about every Aussie kitchen. In an interview with The Daily Mail, Hay has condemned elimination eating programs – particularly the paleo and sugar-free diets – as a new form of disordered eating.
“Dairy-free, sugar-free; I think some of them are just a new eating disorder,” the Donna Hay Magazine editor says. “There’s the ‘I Quit Sugar’ program. And so many people quitting carbs, quitting drinking… It’s ‘I quit’, ‘I quit.’ For me it’s about a lifestyle choice.” Likening them to the Atkin’s diet and lemon detoxes of years gone by, Hay is especially bothered by the regimented nature of these eating plans. Following the paleo program, for instance, involves moving away from grains and dairy and focusing the diet on meat, vegetables and natural oils. One of the most high-profile Australian advocates of this regimen is chef and My Kitchen Rules judge Pete Evans, who has started a program called The Paleo Way. Meanwhile, the I Quit Sugar phenomenon – championed locally by journalist, blogger and former Cosmopolitan editor Sarah Wilson – is focused on eliminating sugar, as its name suggests. “There are rules around everything in life and to put strict, extreme rules on food too makes me sad. They are so extreme which is odd for me,” Hay tells the Daily Mail. “We’re all so serious everywhere else in life, so why put rules on food too? It’s about balance.”