I always say, all things in moderation: through which I receive leeway to consuming French fries and ice cream at no cost, except for compromising my diet. Of course, my level of discipline is something else to consider. I’m always looking for an excuse to reach towards the saltier, greasier foods on the menu rather than the healthier alternatives. It takes time to settle your relationship with food to a point where you can eat guilt-free and still receive 110% satisfaction with your meals. 

Whether you’re looking to jump-start your health or control your sugar intake without sacrificing your diet, there are just a few health-food trends you should be aware of before making your lifestyle change.

1. The Soy Debate

tofu, chicken
Vy-Anh Nguyen

This low-calorie, gluten free meat alternative is famous as a vegan staple and holy grail. You might’ve heard here and there that soy is bad for you, seeing as it's a commonly found ingredient in many processed foods. The bad reputation of this food stems from its high levels of isoflavones, which are chemically similar to the estrogen hormone. Even though it was linked to breast cancer at one point (this is false by the way-haters you can back off), it has shown to do just the opposite. Although it offers amazing nutritional value and protein, keep in mind that the recommended daily intake is around ½ a cup. If you do plan on eating soy, it’d be best to lean towards the organic or fermented forms like tempeh or miso. If you’re still not convinced, this guide to soy might have all the answers you're looking for. 

2. Fasting/Detox 

Vy-Anh Nguyen

Any form of detox sounds like a good short-term plan and may even be beneficial for your body, but it all lies in the execution. While fasting once or twice a month for a short period of time might even add-on to your years, anything more than a week is considered extreme. Many people fast for either religious reasons or merely for the "spiritual journey". However, when it comes to health food trends like the juice detox where your primary source of caloric intake relies on liquids, it can be seen as harmful rather than beneficial. You can find more pros and cons to this trend in this article on Juice Cleansing. Juice detoxing might not be as convenient as it sounds! 

3. The Tea on Carbs

sandwich, bread, cucumber
Vy-Anh Nguyen

Though some vegans prefer their meals high carb and live off of almost 3,000+ calories per day, consuming vegetable and carb packed meals, for many this is known as a food to avoid. For most vegans, carbs act as the sole source of fuel and energy. Sure, there are simple carbs that you should be reducing if not eliminating from your diet like candy or enriched pasta, but completely restricting this food group won't do much good for your mental or physical health. If you're consuming "bad carbs," such as white bread or potato chips, then you aren't getting the same amount of nutrients as a complex carb like beans. Switch out your soda, cookies, and pasta for the good stuff: fruits, oats, vegetables, and whole-grain items. You might not have to limit this food after all!

4. Gluten Alternatives

kale, bread, herb, vegetable
Vy-Anh Nguyen

Whether or not you've removed gluten products from your diet due to an allergy or purely for weight loss, you should be aware that some gluten alternatives can be just as bad in terms of health. A gluten free diet is known to aid digestion, weight loss and for some, mood adjustment, but it might not be the perfect health food trend. Similar to fat-free and low-sodium foods, "fake" gluten products are just as likely to contain artificial ingredients, higher amounts of sugar, and are highly processed. Don't be fooled by these "healthy" labels! If you want to go gluten-free the right way, make sure to avoid foods with refined sugar and ingredients like corn and tapioca starch, they mostly contain empty calories and are equally unhealthy. Instead, look for lentil pasta, use lettuce for your wraps, and substitute crackers for veggies with your side of hummus. So if you're new to the gluten-free lifestyle, don't make the mistake of depending on gluten alternatives and when in doubt--go for the greens!

5. Coconut Oil

Vy-Anh Nguyen

Coconut oil has become increasingly popular as a "miracle item" for weight loss. Other popular uses for coconut oil include: makeup removal, skin/hair care, cooking, coffee creamer, cellulite removal, and even as a surface cleaner. Though some of these are more questionable than others, there may be new evidence that suggests the consumption of this product relates to an increase in bad cholesterol, and isn't as valuable towards weight-loss as previously believed. Coconut oil isn't going to help you lose weight, but it's not the worst of all fats. Despite it's high levels of saturated fat, I wouldn't cross it off my list just yet. It still works wonders for the skin in terms of moisturizing, as well as wrinkle-reduction. If you do plan on using this oil in your meals, I recommend small servings at most and if you're up for it, avocado oil might be the next best thing! 

If you're the type of person that "lives to eat" versus the other way around, try to remember this mantra the next time you order at your favorite fast food restaurant: "all things in moderation."