How To

The truth about clean eating & other diets


Nutritionist Miles Price looks at this year’s diet trends.

Text by Cherrie Yu, illustrations by Yanny Cheng

What are your thoughts on the “clean-eating” movement?
It is a great movement. The public is exposed to a lot of information from nutrition writers and bloggers. Driving this are the people wanting to take control of their health. The movement has evolved from “paleo eating” [and involves an] understanding of how and where food is produced, and being reassured it is free from contamination and toxins.

What is the appeal of detox plans – and what are the risks?
With Hong Kong being a toxic place already, people are aware of the claimed benefits of detox plans. I don’t recommend this practice, because detox for one person might not work for another as our bodies are genetically unique. Go deeper in understanding the toxins in your body first.

What are your thoughts about juice cleanses?
Some juices are full of sugar and fructose, so consume the whole fruit instead. Juicing takes away the fibre from fruit and you are at risk of raising your blood sugar level. Symptoms include lightheadedness, feeling grumpy, developing cravings and mood swings.

How does fasting work?
Fasting is going without a meal for at least 48 hours. It’s best to fast intermittently, with the protocol being twice a week for 12 to 15 hours. This practice gives certain organs such as the liver and pancreas a recovery break. It also helps to clear out dead cells, a little bit of toxins, and regulate the immune system.

With a new “super food” trending every month, is it possible to overload on one ingredient?
Many “super foods” come and go. It is good to optimise antioxidants in your body, but you need all sorts of nutrients. Goji berries, for example, don’t have amino acids and wheatgrass lacks fatty acids and certain carbohydrates. So bear this in mind and balance superfoods with your daily intake of food.

What are “super herbs” and how should they be used?
Adaptogens are plant-based compounds that change the energy and hormonal regulation of the body. Examples are ginseng, ashwagandha (a herb) and maca roots. It is important to take adaptogens according to one’s needs, because they are very powerful. Take into account lifestyle factors such as sleeping patterns. Many people buying adaptogens don’t realise they may worsen their body’s energy levels.

What are the pros and cons of switching to a plant-based diet?
With plant-based diets being vegan in nature, the good side is you are steering clear of bad meats and heavy metals in seafood, and getting a good amount of fibre. Overall, it is a clean diet as long as it’s balanced with seeds and grains for suficient proteins. Linked with your genetic background, this diet suits certain people very well. The downside is lack of cholesterol and key nutrients such as amino acids and vitamin B12.

Can our obsessions with health be unhealthy?
Yes. For example, many people are exercising without adequate recovery and pushing the body to extremes. This sends the body into a catabolic mode where it breaks down muscle tissues. Another unhealthy obsession is relying solely on a certain diet and not allowing the body to get what it needs. This may set off metabolic imbalances in the long run.

What is the best way to achieve a balanced diet?
The first step is to understand the concept of eating clean. Then follow the guide of consuming the correct portions of 30 per cent fat, 30 per cent protein and 40 per cent carbohydrates in every meal. Look at your plate with a mindset of the protein at the centre, where it is likely you will have some fat, and then you just need the carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits.

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Miles Price
Certified Clinical Nutritionist
A certified clinical nutritionist and functional medical practitioner, Miles Price offers health and dietary advice at Life Clinic. Before moving to Hong Kong, he developed plant extracts for British pharmacy Boots. He holds a MSc in holistic nutrition from Hawthorn University, USA, and a postgraduate diploma in functional medicine from the Functional Medicine University, USA.

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