Extremism is extremely unnecessary

Dear Diet

It’s January. Everywhere you look there are detox diets, juice cleansers, slimming smoothies and that last ditch effort to drop the festive season kilos. Now, before I go on, let’s just get one thing straight: DIETS DON’T WORK. I love a good smoothie, but drinking only liquids for a period of days will deplete your body of any lean muscle mass you once had, slow your metabolism to a standstill, and turn you into a grumpy, tired, emotional, screaming lunatic. Fact.

Now, consider this. If you ate in a way that provided you will the appropriate fuel, nutrition, emotional satisfaction and enjoyment, wouldn’t Christmas just be another day? And wouldn’t your weight be as stable as any other month of the year? Food for thought hey. Pun intended.

If you want to lose a few kilos, that’s great. Most of us have been there at some point in our life. But please, STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALES. Instead, focus on long term, sustainable and sensible behaviours.

Just like you brush your teeth every morning, you too can prepare your weekly lunches, stock your fridge with healthy options AND say no to that 3kg box of Whitman’s brought to the table on Christmas Day. It’s all a matter of choice.

What will you choose?

And while I’m at it: please drop the labels.

You’ve gone vego? Ok. That’s your choice. But salmon is an animal. YOU ARE NOT A VEGETARIAN IF YOU EAT FISH.

You eat gluten free? That’s great, I’m genuinely really happy for you. I wish more people would quit gluten. But please don’t tell me how you ate a kebab after a big night out on the sauce, or sit there in front of me inhaling the bread basket. You’re either gluten free or you’re not. Simple.

You’re Paleo? Good on you – we could all do with bringing our nutrition back to nature a little more. But please don’t preach your perfectionism – to me, or anyone else for that matter. Perfect doesn’t exist. And disordered eating is extremely destructive. Life and food are to enjoy, and no one wants to be preached at. I eat bread and I’m happy to tell anyone that. (It is gluten free though, as I don’t also eat kebabs :)).

To keep it simple, balance is the key. Trial and error will tell you what your body needs. If you want to be vego, I get it. But please food combine and ensure you get adequate protein. If you want to eat gluten free, brilliant! But ditch the labels until you’ve decided that it is your long term approach to nutrition. And if you choose to eat Paleo, practice compassion and drop the “Paleo Police” message off at the tip.

Extremism is extremely unnecessary. Rant over.


  1. Claire Yates

    Great post! I am with you on the “Paleo Police’ thing! I wrote a post about it in Oct last year – . I follow a Paleo template myself, but as a Nutritionist I encourage ANY form of healthy eating that someone is trying 🙂 and the whole elitism in the Paleo crowd drives me nuts! I’m glad to see there are others out there like me 🙂 Great post! Claire

  2. Lisa Croz

    Love it! Having just started working with you I am loving your passionate honesty. Even the best of us have bad days and we must learn to be compassionate & forgiving to ourselves.
    Btw, weaning of the scales & winning!

  3. Hayley

    A perfectly justified rant. I agree wholeheartedly and not only is extremism unnecessary, it’s UNattractive!

  4. The Natural Nutritionist

    Thanks Claire! Please feel free to share. I just read yours – what a fantastic Paleo role model you are. Love your work. Steph x

  5. Andie

    I agree! Extremism can be damaging to the person and to others- it’s where the “all or nothing” mentality comes in, and that feeling of falling off the bandwagon. I no longer “fall off the bandwagon”, I simply sometimes choose less optimal/ concentrated ways of getting my required fuel/ nutrition… it makes you realise that if you’re focused on health, you do make the optimal choices most of the time! And when you’re not judging yourself too harshly, there’s no need to judge others- not to mention giving you license to trial and error for yourself 🙂

  6. Alex

    Thanks for the rant! This is just what I needed to read today. I just found your website and it appears that there are some great articles. Like so many people, I have had periods of diet extremism and I am only just realising the damage that has done. I am embarassed to say that I am actually afraid now of foods that some groups have told me are bad for me. So much so, that I can no longer separate my physiological and psychological reactions to them and listen to whether my body is telling me it likes them. I genuinely prefer tofu (biodynamic) and handmade seitan (with nothing but organic unbleached flour, tamari, ginger and filtered water) to chicken and meat. Will I become an infertile, bloated beach ball if I eat these things? To put this in context, I am extremely active and fit, a healthy weight, eat mostly organic wholefoods and lots of vegetables and healthy fats and avoid processed food entirely other than pea protein and aforesaid devil products, including refined grains and sugars. It seems sad to me that as an intelligent person I waste time worrying about it even.

  7. Alex

    Just to note, the above was not meant to appear as a criticism of anyone but myself. Just saw your FAQ on gluten. I don’t know…yikes.

  8. Rachel

    I love this post! I’m so sick of labels they make you feel guilty even when your eating healthfully.

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