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8 Controversial Nutrition Topics of 2021

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In spite of the numerous wealthy and sophisticated cultures that people have cultivated on this earth, all of us have the identical primary organic wants. These embrace water, air, heat, and food. 

Food generally is a common unifying expertise, simply as a lot as our convictions about food and nutrition could be dividing and generally polarizing. Discussions about quite a few controversial nutrition subjects happen within the classroom, within the coach’s workplace or clinic, and on-line. As nutrition and wellness coaches, it may really feel pure to really feel like you need to “choose a side” in these debates, particularly when coaches ask you in your opinion. At the identical time, it’s at all times helpful to grasp the logic behind each side of the controversy to respectfully and knowledgeably interact in discussions along with your purchasers. 

In this text, we provide you with a basic overview of eight of essentially the most controversial nutrition subjects of 2021. The article doesn’t argue for one aspect or one other however somewhat offers details about the next: 

  1. What it’s
  2. Why it’s controversial
  3. What those that are for it say
  4. What those that are in opposition to it say

Make observe that within the sections that debate why individuals are for or in opposition to a sure subject, we don’t make claims as to the scientific validity of the arguments, although we could link to a different article the place you may study extra concerning the topic. Instead, we summarize some of the most well-liked arguments on both sides. 

To interact within the debate and study extra concerning the subject, intention to remain up-to-date along with your wellness and nutrition data with these tips


Learn what it takes to be a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

Anti-Diet Culture

What Is Anti-Diet Culture

To perceive the anti-diet tradition, it’s critical to grasp food regimen tradition. 

According to dietitians on the University of California San Diego, “diet culture is a set of beliefs that values thinness, appearance, and shape above health and wellbeing.” It does so with a restrictive method to eating—proscribing energy, vitamins, or sure food teams and labeling meals as “good” and “bad.”

What Those Who Are For It Say

Anti-diet tradition, or an anti-diet method, believes that diets and food regimen tradition prioritize earnings over peoples’ health. It demonstrates that many professionals who promote food regimen tradition additionally profit from the dependency that people develop on their companies to keep up a sure weight or body form, mentioning that this method is inherently unsustainable. 

Anti-diet tradition goals to decouple food restriction from health and factors on the gaps within the analysis across the connection between restrictive diets and health. It can be carefully tied to the fat liberation movement, which is a social motion that goals to vary anti-fat biases and the stigma of obesity in society by elevating consciousness concerning the experiences, and particularly the obstacles and inequities, that fats individuals face.

While promoters of anti-diet tradition don’t prescribe to a different dietary philosophy, many dietitians really feel that it pairs naturally with intuitive eating, which holds the identical rules and permits individuals to reject food regimen tradition whereas offering the instruments to undertake a mindset that does enhance health. It can be usually linked to a Health at Every Size (HAES). Both intuitive eating and HAES are mentioned under. 

What Those Who Are Against It Say

The medical, nutrition and fitness professionals who’re in opposition to anti-diet tradition (or nonetheless favor the adoption of diets after being conscious of the anti-diet method) could also be so for a number of causes:

  • They could consider that individuals’s minds and our bodies have to be educated to study what to eat to satisfy their body’s wants and that diets are an efficient means to take action. 
  • They could level to analysis and information that helps the effectiveness of particular diets on health.
  • They consider that being obese or overweight is inherently dangerous for a person’s health.
  • They observe that reaching sure body shapes or compositions is a science, and protocols, together with diets, are one of the best ways to attain these desired body shapes. 

Intuitive Eating

What Is Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is an anti-diet method that was made fashionable by registered dietitian nutritionists Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. It is an method that stems from the idea that people don’t want to limit our food consumption with diets, go hungry, or see meals as inherently “bad” for us. Instead, it champions the concept studying about our dietary wants and tuning into what our body is telling us is the very best indicator of what to eat, when to eat, and the way a lot to eat. It is centered on the idea that to really feel our greatest, we have to heal our relationship with food. 

Unlike most different dietary approaches, intuitive eating doesn’t have a “formula.” It is predicated on ten core principles that don’t focus on particular meals or food teams however as a substitute intention to assist us join with our our bodies and heal our relationship with food. 

The intuitive eating method usually goes hand-in-hand with rejecting food regimen tradition and with believing health could be achieved at each dimension after we don’t assign worth to weight. 

What Those Who Are For It Say

Intuitive eating has solely lately been on many nutritionists’ radars. Those who’re champions of the approach to life method, nonetheless, argue that intuitive eating has been the pure go-to eating method all through a lot of human historical past and that restrictive diets are an invention of the food regimen business and arbitrary and idealized body sorts. 

Those who’re champions of intuitive eating consider that restrictive eating results in starvation, body dysregulation, and a larger want to eat meals perceived as “bad.” 

By implementing the rules of intuitive eating, psychological health and bodily health are reestablished. Not solely do intuitive eaters have larger confidence, however additionally they belief of their starvation cues and honor their nutrition. 

Intuitive eating nutritionists consider that intuitive eating could be adopted by and useful to all individuals, regardless of health standing. 

What Those Who Are Against It Say

For many, intuitive eating is a radical method to satisfying our dietary wants. Even after understanding the rules of intuitive eating, some individuals don’t suppose that trusting our instinct results in healthy eating habits. Some individuals could also be in opposition to intuitive eating if it signifies that they could acquire weight in the event that they consider that weight is an indicator of health.

Additionally, others could also be in opposition to the intuitive eating method in the event that they consider that individuals should train their our bodies to eat by food restriction. This could embrace data associated to the influencing energy of the food business on our minds. 

Others would possibly settle for that intuitive eating could possibly be a helpful method for usually healthy individuals, however they could really feel that it’s not related or relevant to people who find themselves residing with metabolic ailments, like sort 2 diabetes or thyroid illness, since hormonal and starvation signaling pathways are impaired.  

Health at Every Size (HAES) Movement

What Is the Health at Every Size (HAES) Movement? 

The HAES motion is an method that states that each one individuals, regardless of dimension or weight, could be healthy. It highlights that body beliefs, together with form, dimension, and weight, are cultural, and, within the West, they’re made persistent by food regimen tradition and people who profit from individuals spending cash to attain a selected body best. The HAES motion is carefully tied to the Fat Liberation Movement

What Those Who Are For It Say

People and professionals who’re supporters and proponents of the motion are firm believers within the HAES rules to shut gaps in entry to healthcare, construct an inclusive and respectful group, and help individuals of all sizes find methods to take care of themselves in a means that is sensible to them. 

Those who promote the HAES motion consider within the HAES principles. These embrace: 

  • Respecting body variety and honoring variations in dimension, age, ethnicity, gender, incapacity, sexual orientation, faith, class, and different human attributes. 
  • Being critically conscious of scientific and cultural assumptions that join weight and dimension to health standing. 
  • Promoting compassionate self-care, together with discovering pleasure in a range of motion sorts and supporting versatile eating that values pleasure and honors urge for food, satiety, and starvation, whereas additionally respecting the social circumstances that body what is out there to eat. 

HAES promoters level out that many of the measures of health related to body weight and body dimension in maturity should not related or based mostly on rules of causality. This applies to BMI and waist circumference, which HAES promoters consider are poor and arbitrary measures of health standing. 

In different phrases, it factors out that there’s restricted to no proof to level out that body weight is a trigger of widespread health issues. In this sense, one can’t assume {that a} person in a bigger body is unhealthy or {that a} person in a smaller body is healthy. 

Proponents of HAES additionally show how damaging it may be for people in bigger our bodies searching for care when health professionals assume that weight is inflicting the health drawback with out taking a look at labs that truly point out health standing (gaslighting). 

What Those Who Are Against It Say

Many of those that are in opposition to the HAES rules or motion should not satisfied {that a} person’s health can’t be decided by their dimension or body form. They might also be in opposition to HAES for a lot of of the identical causes they could be in opposition to intuitive eating and anti-diet tradition approaches, together with: 

  • Believing that individuals’s our bodies and minds should be educated to eat in a sure means by prescribed restrictions. 
  • Pointing to analysis the place weight loss did lead to enhancements in indicators of health, like blood strain, triglyceride, insulin, and even subjective measures of health and wellbeing. 
  • People really feel impressed or motivated by exterior adjustments they see consequently of dietary adjustments they make. 

Intermittent Fasting

What Is Intermittent Fasting? 

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a dietary protocol that focuses on the timing of meals. People who quick intermittently cycle between intervals the place they abstain from eating and others the place they eat. Popular IF protocols embrace: 

  • The 16/8 methodology, the place individuals quick for 16 hours and have an 8-hour eating window 
  • Eat-Stop-Eat, the place individuals quick for 24 hours a few times every week, then eat common meals the remaining of the week 
  • The 5:2 methodology, which restricts calorie consumption to about 500 energy two days of the week, however the different 5 days, individuals can eat usually 

It differs from fasting for spiritual or cultural causes and as a substitute boasts the health the explanation why individuals ought to quick intermittently. 

What Those Who Are For It Say

Proponents of intermittent fasting spotlight the health advantages of abstaining from eating for not less than 12 hours, however as much as 20 hours a day. The benefits they level to incorporate: 

  • Improvements in exercise outcomes
  • Weight loss
  • Staving off emotional eating
  • Reduced irritation
  • Extended lifespan and healthspan
  • Simpler eating plans, thus a larger likeliness of sticking to them for longer 

What Those Who Are Against It Say

People who’re in opposition to intermittent fasting usually argue that: 

  • There is restricted proof to indicate its profit for many of the health claims, or most health claims are based mostly on animal trials.
  • It is unsustainable.
  • It could possibly be harmful for individuals with metabolic problems. 
  • It results in disordered eating.
  • It ignores starvation cues.
  • It can result in bingeing throughout “eating windows.”

Intermittent fasting is restrictive, and it could present a big change from the way in which individuals are accustomed to eating. Many specialists consider that intermittent fasting is not sustainable in the long run for most individuals. 

The Ketogenic Diet

What Is the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet, or keto food regimen for brief, is a dietary routine that’s excessive in fats, reasonable in protein, and really low in carbohydrates. It is predicated on the physiological precept that proscribing the consumption of vitality from carbohydrates will push the body to enter ketosis, a state the place it breaks down fats and makes use of ketones for vitality as a substitute of utilizing the available and simply accessed carbohydrates. 

In basic, it promotes the consumption of meals excessive in fats, together with oils and animal meals, and it could or could not restrict the supply of fat (saturated versus unsaturated fat). It does, nonetheless, severely restrict the consumption of meals that present vital carbohydrates to the body, specifically most fruits and grain-based meals. 

The keto food regimen is boasted for claims to advantages to metabolic health and weight, amongst others. 

What Those Who Are For It Say

Those who promote or follow the keto food regimen accomplish that to attain a sure body form or dimension, to lose weight, to enhance vitality ranges throughout training, to enhance mind operate, and to assist individuals struggle sugar cravings. 

Many individuals could comply with the keto food regimen to assist deal with or handle chronic health conditions, resembling epilepsy, sort 2 diabetes, most cancers, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s illness, and nonalcoholic fatty liver illness.  

What Those Who Are Against It Say

People who’re in opposition to the adoption of the keto food regimen argue that it promotes an unnatural or unhealthy eating sample and goes in opposition to our organic want for carbohydrates. They argue that the “keto flu” deemed regular is the body’s means of crying for assist and that there are few research in healthy populations that show its profit and security in the long run. 

Some individuals settle for that keto diets be useful as half of a illness administration protocol in individuals with particular ailments. However, they don’t consider that it’s a sustainable or healthy technique to entry the opposite advantages, like blood glucose administration and weight loss, that it claims. 

Organic vs. Non-Organic

What Is Organic Food?

Generally talking, natural food is grown or raised with out most industrial pesticides (for crops) or hormones (for animal merchandise) and isn’t genetically modified or doesn’t use genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within the manufacturing course of. Many natural food certifications additionally require manufacturing or manufacturing corporations to stick to a collection of moral pointers with staff to advertise a healthy working setting and to circumstances that promote humane environments for animals. 

Different international locations have various definitions and guidelines, however most international locations require food producers and producers to stick to strict laws and pay certification businesses in an effort to market their merchandise as natural. 

What Those Who Are For It Say

People who select to eat natural food could accomplish that for quite a few causes, together with:

  • The perception that natural meals are inherently more healthy or extra nutritious
  • Aiming to keep away from the consumption of antinutrients and pesticide residues
  • Promoting sustainable food manufacturing practices 
  • Not realizing sufficient concerning the long-term results of eating meals with pesticides on health 

What Those Who Are Against It Say

People who’re in opposition to or detached to the consumption of natural food could consider that: 

  • There isn’t convincing proof that natural food is more healthy or extra nutritious.
  • There isn’t proof to indicate that conventionally grown food is detrimental to health. 
  • Organic food is commonly dearer and thus out of attain for most individuals and inherently classist.
  • It is feasible to make environmentally accountable food decisions with out essentially eating natural. 
  • Organic labels can mislead individuals to suppose they’re making healthy decisions; non-nutrient-dense meals can be labeled natural. 


What Are Superfoods? 

Superfoods are those who have a number of dietary or health benefit that’s perceived as “better than the average food.” It could also be as a consequence of elevated nutrient density, the presence of a selected nutrient that has a task in stopping or managing illness, or as a consequence of its position in a practical nutrition method. 

Those For Them Say…

Promoters of superfoods could argue that the label is a simple means to assist individuals make more healthy food decisions. Highlighting particular meals and their dietary advantages assist individuals study concerning the roles of vitamins of their body whereas additionally studying about nutrient density.

The argument is straightforward however constant and far-reaching. Highlighting superfoods raises consciousness about them, and, when given a alternative between the superfood and an identical choice, individuals can be extra probably to decide on the superfood. 

Those Against Them Say… 

People in opposition to the time period “superfoods” normally should not claiming that they aren’t healthy or nutrient-dense. Instead, they could argue that the use of the time period superfoods is unfair. Superfood claims comply with tendencies based mostly on market tendencies somewhat than on research of nutrient density. 

They might also argue that consuming one or two particular meals, with out regard to frequency or portion, doesn’t guarantee enhancements in health. Instead, it’s extra useful to concentrate on food teams or sorts and eating patterns as a complete somewhat than on sure meals. 

Often, superfoods are these that aren’t domestically grown however as a substitute have a brand new and “exotic” really feel out there. In this sense, particularly within the West, it usually outcomes from co-opting cultural meals and elevating them not for his or her cultural significance however somewhat for his or her dietary worth. This could be problematic when market tendencies push individuals to want the superfood, making them dearer and fewer accessible to the populations and communities for whom they’re each nutritionally and culturally necessary. This was the case with quinoa and chia, for instance. 

Plant-Based Diets

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based food regimen is one the place most of a person’s nutrition comes from plant-based meals, like fruits, greens, and grains. 

What Those Who Are For It Say

The greatest promoters of plant-based diets usually declare that it’s the finest means to make sure a sustainable future for the environment and a more healthy future for individuals. 

Many people and professionals select to eat a plant-based food regimen for the health benefits it may supply, together with:

  • Helps to forestall and handle diabetes
  • Helps handle hypertension and decrease levels of cholesterol
  • Increases fiber and phytonutrient consumption
  • Anti-inflammatory advantages

Since one of the first arguments in opposition to a plant-based food regimen is that it can’t meet protein needs, supporters level to quite a few research that show that it’s attainable to satisfy most nutrient wants on a plant-based food regimen.  

What Those Who Are Against It Say

Some of the arguments in opposition to a plant-based food regimen level out some of the nutrient shortcomings it could have, together with protein and vitamin B12. 

They might also argue that well-balanced plant-based diets are usually costly for people to comply with when in comparison with typical diets. Some individuals might also really feel that eating a plant-based food regimen signifies that they must minimize out cultural meals. 

Others additionally argue {that a} plant-based food regimen isn’t synonymous with a healthy or well-balanced food regimen; for instance, plant-based diets don’t essentially rule out ultra-processed foods.

Main Takeaways

This article offers basic details about these subjects and offers an outline of the controversy on these subjects as they stand in 2021. Keep in thoughts that the knowledge was introduced in a polarized method (in opposition to and for) for simplicity’s sake. However, not all nutrition and wellness professionals sit solely on one aspect of the fence in every of these debates. Many professionals could tackle a way more nuanced method and acknowledge that each side have their benefit. 

We encourage nutrition professionals to proceed to maintain their data up-to-date and have interaction in conversations with different professionals with completely different opinions with the intention of offering the very best and most related data to their purchasers. 


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  1. https://recreation.ucsd.edu/2021/01/diet-culture-social-media/
  2. https://www.ucdavis.edu/food/what-makes-superfood-so-super
  3. https://www.usda.gov/topics/organic
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13679-018-0308-9
  5. https://haescommunity.com/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0305750X18302419
  7. https://www.cbi.eu/news/what-future-african-chia 


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