Why do we keep falling for fad diets? With the festive season behind us, you may be wondering how best to shed a few kilos. Not long ago, we were told the answer was to eat like a caveman. Before that it was ketogenic diets, or gluten-free diets (as a lifestyle choice rather than a response to celiac disease), or plant-based diets, or Mediterranean diets.

There’s an element of self-flagellation in all this. Adherents are celebrated for their discipline and self-denial. If they break the strictures of their diet, they must confess, feel ashamed, and do penance down the gym. With social media, there’s no shortage of role models to follow. In fact, some argue there’s something cultish about modern dietary fads, and they seem to have more in common with religion than with science.

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Ivan who says he wants vegans to stop pushing their “unnatural” diets on others. Is he being unreasonable?

To get a response, we spoke to Antje Gahl from the German Nutrition Society. What would she say?

I can understand Ivan well, vegan nutrition was a hype in the media, there was a lot of discussion and the proportion of vegans has certainly increased in recent years. There are many reasons for this: some want less factory farming, others greater sustainability.

But it shouldn’t lead to nutrition being seen as a religion. It must not come to the point where someone says that you’re a bad person if you do not eat a vegan diet. That would be a very one-sided view. There are lots of different nutritional trends out there, and food is seen as part of our identity, both collectively and individually. But we shouldn’t overdo it. You can also eat sustainably without being vegan. For example, if you consume a lot of plant-based foods and eat animal-based foods in moderation.

The data available to vegans also does not indicate that they are healthier because of their diet. The vegan diet goes hand-in-hand with many health-promoting factors. Most vegans are very health-conscious: most of the time they do not smoke, drink little alcohol, and are generally more physically active. In addition to nutrition, these aspects are very important factors for our health.

Therefore, the impact of diet is difficult to identify, since our entire lifestyle is relevant to our health. Much would be gained if vegans and non-vegans accepted one other and everyone checks how they can lead a healthier lifestyle.

Is food the new religion? Is there something cultish about modern dietary fads? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Foto: Bigstock (c) BennyMartyPortrait: DGE (c) Christian Augustin

14 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    No, but the Cult to Greta Thunberg is.

  2. avatar

    No, climate change is the new religion

  3. avatar

    The mainstream media is creating….new ” religion “

  4. avatar

    Over feeding and self centrism

  5. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Is food the new religion?

    Food is simply a satellite of distraction the climate change circuit, used by G Thunberg, to have a life. Of course she did not do this alone. The entire set up was a manipulation of serious money makers. The good thing, in her situation is, it has, according to her family, taken her out of depression and mental illness. That must be a great relief for them.

    However, there is the unknown. Or, less plugged.


  6. avatar

    Leftists and mainstream media, are making a religion of every subject. Be free

  7. avatar

    Celebrity culture and Royal lovers

  8. avatar

    I think people feel unwell and unhealthy so they are looking for a diet to feel well. Except veganism-that is mainly rooted in feelings.

  9. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    It is simply searching for the secret to permanent health and happiness through food and also about overcoming the fear of hunger, knowing more about how the human body functions, how it reacts to food and how our conscious choices can influence that process for the better. It is the search for happiness that is prompting people to always look for new diets until the correct one is found. Anything extreme can be harmful and religion can be an extreme belief excluding all other options. So can food. It depends on the individual.

  10. avatar

    EU has an obssessive culture except for the real problems.

  11. avatar

    Different promoted diets are a belief system just like religion. I fell for the emotional blackmail of the vegan diet and got every ill because it exacerbated underlying health issues, sensitivities and intolerances I had . Then I fell for the keto diet and thought I was going to die of a heart attack with all the symptoms I got from all the fat that my body couldn’t tolerate. The future is precision nutrition. There is no one right diet for all. We need tailored diets. The rest of these diet beliefs need to come with a health warning.

  12. avatar
    Harry Hobbs

    Teenage or adolescence may well be a vital phase of our life. it’s at this age that several hormonal changes occur within our body. it is also the expansion phase and hence, special attention is required for the fitness of the body and mind. Unfortunately, lack of physical activity and consuming excessive food has pushed numerous teenagers into the obesity whirlpool. Being overweight affects their self-confidence which they often fancy skipping meals or following fad diets to the aim of starvation to attain their desired weight. But the results are usually not nearly pretty much as good obviously and lots of teenagers end up with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, which deprives their bodies of important nutrients.

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