-Candice Smith, contributing writer
What do the Cabbage Soup diet, Lemonade diet, the 3-Day diet, 7-Day All-You-Can-Eat diet and the Hollywood diet all have in common? They are all temporary fixes in place of permanent lifestyle changes. I grew up in a fad diet era that promised fast results. The 80s consisted of the Beverly Hills diet, Fit for Life diet, the Caveman diet, the Rotation diet and the Scarsdale diet among many other diets. All of these diets promised quick weight loss, but what the claims don’t state is as soon as you quit the diet, more times than none, you will gain back the weight. Fast forward two decades and fad diets still exist—just with different names. I will say some of the fad diets do seem to maintain a healthier status with more positive results.
Now America has adopted Weight Watchers, which makes a little more sense. You eat what you want, just in balanced moderation. Sounds good right? The catch is you have to count points. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to count points. However, the diet has had positive results for over 40 years. The Mediterranean Diet promotes heart-healthy fats, fruits, veggies, red wine, whole grains, and olive oils. The Zone Diet claims to reset your metabolism and ward off chronic diseases by changing the balance of how you consume foods. Although those diets may be easy to use, it limits many nutrients. The Atkins diet has been modernized to change with the times but still lacks a well-balanced menu and also lacks calcium. Volumetrics is perhaps a descent ideal diet because the individual consumes fruits and vegetables with high water content. The down side is the absence of the “full” factor and a lack of variety. With Nutrisystem, the meals are premade so there is no work for you. That sounds beneficial right? Well, unless you don’t mind shelling out the dough, it can be costly (www.everydayhealth.com/food).
When determining what diet is right for you, apply the following principles to determine if the diet is healthy. Stay away from diets that promise you will lose weight quickly; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; listen to warnings or dangers in regards to a single product; pay attention to detail when “doctors” are trying to sell products from conducting complex studies with simple results; find out whether or not if a mentioned scientific organization really backs the product; pay attention to comments that state about “good” and “bad” foods because not all good foods are bad; pay attention to studies that claim a certain food is or isn’t for a certain group of people because every individual processes food differently; if it is a true and legitimate product with scientific research, it will have been peer-reviewed (www.gethealthyclarkcounty.org).
Stay away from diets that claim you are able to eat as much as you want and still lose weight. That’s not possible. Some diets claim you can eat as much as one certain food that you want. First of all, who wants to eat the same food daily? Secondly, you are not getting all the vitamins and minerals needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Other diets will restrict an entire food group. We need carbs, proteins, and certain fats. Some diets claim that if you eat certain foods combined with others, you will lose weight faster. This has not been proven. Some diets also claim there is no need to exercise. Are you kidding me? Exercise should be a part of a daily regimen to keep our mind and body happy and healthy! Stay away from diets that are strict and only allow you to consume certain foods at certain times. Not only is it boring to consume the same foods, it will be hard to stick to that diet, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to do it forever (www.eatright.org).
Not only can fad diets be expensive, they can also be detrimental to your health. Fad diets can cause more hunger because you are starving your body of vital nutrients, increase mood changes, cause constipation and/or diarrhea, have you feeling dehydrated, could possibly cause you to faint, cause confusion, dizziness, and muscle cramps. If you already take medications for previous health concerns, fad diets could worsen your health or cause interactions with medicines so speak to your health care provider. Fad diets also have psychological consequences because your brain is not receiving all of the vital nutrients needed to sustain a healthy mind and body. Many people already beat themselves up over the fact they need to lose weight, but fad diets could cause a person to feel a sense of hopelessness. Fad diets also discourage their desires to want to lose weight if they are not seeing the instant results that were falsely promised to them (www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition).
The best way to lose weight in a healthy manner is to seek help from a dietician or nutritionist. Your doctor will be able to refer you to someone who can help. If you feel you are not able to see a dietician or nutritionist for fear of embarrassment, privacy or lack of financial means, there are other ways to lose weight without depriving yourself. Remove the word “diet” from your vocabulary. Although the word, diet, means to regulate food in order to improve physical performance, too many individuals attach that word as a symbol of success or failure. Instead of saying you are going on a diet, claim you are committing to a personal lifestyle change. Visit the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to determine food recommendations (www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition). Do not eat until you are stuffed like a turkey. Eat until you are satisfied. Eat a variety of healthy foods grown from the Earth. Limit processed and packaged foods, as they are consumed with additives and chemicals not meant for our bodies.
When grocery shopping, shop around the outer perimeter of the store which usually consists of fruits, vegetables, breads, dairies and meats. The aisles usually consist of packaged foods. Limit fast foods, and when you do consume fast food, pick healthy options such as salads, baked chicken, and wheat breads. Say “no” to soda, even diet. If a soda can remove battery acid from a car part, imagine what it does to the inside of your body. Water is your friend, which is only natural since your body is made mostly of water. Eat slowly; our food is not going anywhere. The slower you eat, the more time you allow your mind to register the fact that you have eaten and you will become fuller sooner, thereby possibly having leftovers. You are also allowing your body time to savor the food. We want to enjoy what we eat. When making your plate, use as small a plate as possible. It will trick the eye. Do not eat in a hurry. Drink a full glass of water before every meal to help reduce the amount of food you will eat. Do not eat late at night. Food is required as a source of fuel. You do not need to fuel up prior to sleeping. Do not eat three large meals throughout the day. Studies use to suggest it was wise to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. While the idea makes sense (eat the most food early in the day to provide the most fuel and taper off towards the end when our bodies want to relax), our metabolisms will work more effectively and efficiently if we eat every few hours. I’m not referring to full course meals but small meals that will maintain satisfaction and energy throughout the day. Don’t eat out of boredom. Also, don’t go grocery shopping while hungry because you tend to buy more while shopping. These ideas aren’t the only ways to avoid fad diets but it’s a start. Exercises were not discussed in this article as this was written to discuss only fad dieting. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs. Don’t become consumed with a diet because it’s popular. Maintain a lifestyle change that you can carry with you throughout life with no regrets.