Fad Diets

Welcome to 2019! The start of the year is often when people start trying to change those aspects of their life they feel may need improving, whether it be improved eating habits, being more organized, learning a new language, taking up a sport or starting a new job. If you are anywhere near the internet or social media, you will have noticed a lot of “New Year, New Me” posts and friends announcing their 2019 resolutions, but you may also notice something else lurking around your social media, celebrity, news and lifestyle publications.

At this time of the year we tend to see new trendy diets starting to make their way into the mainstream as people latch onto anything which will appear to help them loose weight, or achieve their perfect “bikini body”. A lot of these diets called “fad diets” make grand promises, yet research shows again and again that the best diets for long term health and wellbeing are moderate ones such as the Mediterranean diet, and that these trendy diets can actually cause healthy issues and/or weight gain.

So, how do you spot a fad diet?

You would be familiar with a lot of these “fad diets” that wax and wane in popularity over years, think the Dukkan Diet, Atkins, Cabbage Soup Diets, Blood type Diet, Lemon Detox diet; the list goes on.

While these diets are all very different, they do share some common themes which can help you identify a fad diet in the future.

Characteristics include:

  • Promises of “rapid” weight loss, requiring little to no effort.
  • Exclusion of whole food groups (ie carbohydrates or dairy) or severe food/calorie restrictions.
  • Rigid rules about what foods can be eaten at certain times or certain days.
  • Uses mostly anecdotal evidence, testimonials or claims from a single study.
  • Implies that food can change body chemistry (ie alkalizing)
  • Require you to consume supplements or shakes to meet your nutritional requirements or are trying to sell you something.
  • Advocate long periods of fasting or consuming only liquids/broths.
  • Label foods as “good” or “bad”
  • Use celebrity endorsements.

If not, then what?

Time and time again studies report that for sustained long term weight management and health improvements, the most sustainable strategies are those involving eating a balanced diet which is high in plant foods, moderate amounts of animal products and minimal processed foods; exercising regularly, drinking lots of water and getting adequate sleep. While these may seem mundane, it doesn’t always have to be complicated.

So remember when it comes to diets, sometimes the simple things are the best; and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

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