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

15 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.

  13. avatar

    As concerning the Word of life, Luke 10 section 25-28 says: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
    Luke 18 section 18-25 says: A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
    Matthew 5 section 43-48 says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    In Old Testament, the Jewish people and their ancestors were given the Law to observe. First, What Adam and Eve should observe was that they could not eat the fruits from the tree of wisdom. Then, their son Cain was told that he should not kill. As sins became increased, the laws were also added more. Up to the generation of Moses, the Law in Old Testament was given to Israelites. We know that the Law is good and the Law is used to punish people who commit sins, but people cannot obey the Law because the sinful spirits are in people. Even that we know stealing and giving false testimony are sinful, but greedy and pride spirits in us drive us to do sinful things. So as Old Testament prophesied we need to get rid of our sinful nature from our spirits.
    Jeremiah 31 section 31-33 says: “The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
    Ezekiel 36 section 24-27 says: “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
    The prophecies are fulfilled when Jesus begins to teach love. The two greatest commandments are ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Love is above the Law and if people have love they are free from the law of sin and death. People who are full of love will not think about stealing or giving false testimony but are merciful and they feed hungry people or give thirsty people something to drink or invite strangers in or clothe people who need clothes. The Law is for people who commit sins. Nobody will say that he will get reward because he does not steal before. But love is the grace we get. And with love we will get eternal life.
    Romans 13 section 8-10 says: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
    Luke 17 section 20-21 says: Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say,’ Here it is,’ or ‘ There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
    John 4 section 23-24 says: Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

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