There are few things that I love about flexible dieting; one of them is that no food is off limits. As long as you have a healthy, balanced diet you can include less nutrient dense foods too. It’s all about moderation.

Today’s society does, however, promote one fad diet after the other, where people are told to avoid certain foods or exclude them completely. Not only can this food restriction cause an unhealthy restrictive/binge eating behaviour, but it may also make you lose out on important vitamins and minerals.

Eating a range of different foods will not only ensure that your diet is more palatable and exacting, but it will also ensure that you get a larger variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals.

In my program Body By Nina, you are able to swap out foods from your meal plan to ensure that you get this variety, and also to ensure you never get bored again.

Gone are those days when you needed to eat chicken and broccoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

As you know, in order to lose weight you need to ensure that you are in a calorie deficit. The calories that you do consume can come from any food as long as you consider you macros, micros (vitamins and minerals), fibre and water intake.

Below are some of the foods that are often excluded from fad diets in order for you lose weight. Unless there is a medical reason for you to avoid these foods, I do not believe you have to exclude them at all.

1. Grains

Grains, such as wheat, oats, rye, barley, and millet are often excluded from the diet to reduce the overall carbohydrate intake or to avoid gluten. However, if you’re not gluten intolerant or sensitive to it there is no reason for you to avoid grains. You can still include grains in your diet and see great results. You’ll just need to ensure you are in a calorie deficit.

Consuming grains that are less processed is better from a nutritional point of view as these retain more of its nutrients that more processed.

Whole grains are a great source of starchy carbs and fibre. They are also a good source of B vitamins such as niacin and thiamin, vitamin E as well as iron. In addition, whole grains contain other phytochemicals such as lignans, saponins and plant sterols that are good for your health.

2. Fats

I’m sure you’re all aware of fad diets promoting fat free or low fat recipes and a low fat lifestyle. These diets promote low fat or fat free to reduce the overall calorie intake as fat contains more calories than protein and carbs per gram.

Your body is also more efficient in storing fat than carbs and protein. However, although our bodies are great at storing fat, even if the diet doesn’t contain any fat, your body will convert any excess carbs or protein to fat.

However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need fats in your diet. Fats are important for normal hormone production, absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), and also the transport of other molecules. Some of the fatty acids found in food are essential, meaning that we can’t produce them in our bodies and that we need to obtain these from the diet.

Another great reason to include healthy fats in your diet is as fats help you to keep full by partially taking longer to digest, but also by stimulating a hormone that supress appetite.  

Your main intake of fats should come from unsaturated sources so make sure you include olive oil, avocado, flaxseed (linseeds), fish and seafood, nuts and seeds in your diet. I also like to include some coconut oil in my diet.

3. Dairy products

Another food group that are often excluded in fad diets is dairy products. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you’ll need to avoid or at least limit your intake of dairy products and maybe even take tablets. However, if you are not experiencing issues, you can still enjoy milk in your coffee or yoghurt with your breakfast.

Not all dairy products are the same though and they do vary depending on how the cows are raised and how the dairy has been processed. In general, dairy products contain several vitamins and minerals that are essential for health such as vitamin A and vitamin D (full-cream milk only, unless fortified), calcium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.

So, although there is a bit of controversy about dairy products, there is no harm including it in your diet if you tolerate it. If you like milk in your coffee, have some. There are however other great alternatives available on the market to help cover your nutritional need of calcium, consumption of dairy products has been associated with other health benefits.

4. Fruit

Consumption of fruit might sometimes be reduced in fad diets, especially high-sugar ones. However, fruit has got numerous health benefits and should be part of any healthy, well-balanced diet.

In general, fruits are great sources of vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium. They also contain various polyphenols with cancer-protecting properties.

Including 2-3 serves of fruit per day has actually been associated with a lower rate of cancer, strokes and heart disease.

Fruit salad anyone?

5. Legumes

Legumes are a staple in the vegetarian and vegan diet, but still there are some fad diets that recommend excluding this food group completely.

Legumes contain a large amount of protein, more than most other plant-derived foods. They are also a good source of B vitamins, potassium, iron, zinc and other minerals.

However, it’s important to soak and cook the legumes before you eat them. This will help destroy toxic substances and compounds that might have a negative effect on the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Pre-soaking the beans might also help with bloating and gas production some might experience. Lentils do, however, not need to be soaked.

6. Peanut butter

Peanut butter has both been hailed as a weight loss cure and as being the cause of a slow metabolism.

However, if you are a peanut butter lover like myself, don’t fret. You can still include peanut butter in your diet and lose weight. You’ll just need to account for the calories.

Peanut butter is a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium and has been associated with numerous health benefits such as reduced risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Just ensure that you buy an all-natural butter, with no added sugar or salt. I’d also suggest for you to store the butter in the fridge to avoid loss of vitamins.

Ok , so here you have 6 foods that are normally excluded from fad diets. As I said, unless there is a medical reason for it, you can still enjoy these foods whilst seeing amazing results. You’ll just need to ensure they fit your macros!