This week’s blog is written by Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW.
I open my morning newspaper and see a large picture of actress Vanessa Hudgens in bikini bottoms and a tight shirt with the headline "no carbs" in regards to how she "looks so good." As an eating disorder therapist, this is honestly horrifying to me. Vanessa has 6 million Twitter followers and over 15 million Facebook likes. She is a role model to many people who likely will follow her dieting advice and cut out carbs to "look like Vanessa."
Our society has jumped on the carb-free or gluten-free bandwagon as a quick fix to lose weight, but this is simply not true. Carbs supply much-needed energy to the body and help enable the protein you consume to break down and be used to build muscle.
There is also a difference between carb-free and gluten-free and this often gets confused. Going gluten-free does not mean cutting out carbs. Gluten is a combination of storage proteins found in wheat and related grains. Gluten is not in carbs such as rice, beans, quinoa, potatoes or corn so when someone cuts any of these foods out of their diet because “gluten affects them” they are misinformed.
In fact, the gluten-free diet is only healthier for people with gluten-related disorders, such as celiac or gluten intolerance. Individuals who have celiac disease require a gluten-free diet because gluten causes an adverse reaction in the body which damages the intestines and can lead to serious health problems.
Gluten alone is not related to how healthy one's diet is. The overall food choices one makes within the diet, whether it’s gluten-free or not, are what is important. Regardless, no food group should be cut out without consulting a medical professional.
There is so much misinformation out there regarding health and diet that it is important to do your research before trying out any new meal plan. As a parent, you have an even bigger responsibility to set an example for your children and also open up a dialogue about nutrition and healthy eating vs. “fad diets.” There are no “quick fixes” when it comes to your health and nutrition is about so much more than weight and looking good in a swimsuit.