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Fad Diets: What You Need to Know

Flashback to Mean Girls, circa 2004, with me for a minute…

Regina: It’s called the South Beach Fat Flush and all you drink is cranberry juice for 72 hours.

Aaron: Let me see that…this isn’t even cranberry juice; it’s cranberry juice cocktail. It’s all sugar.

Regina: I want to lose three pounds.

Karen: OMG, you’re so skinny!

Regina: Shut up.

–End flashback–

We’ve all heard a scenario like this one play out many times before…whether it be chatting with your girlfriends or maybe even serious scheming to lose three pounds in 72 hours. Either way it plays out, this kind of talk that leads to fad diets can sometimes result in weight gain and even serious health problems. Girls who don’t think they have time to commit to maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be desperate to try anything just to lose those three pounds or more.

What is important to realize here is that not every diet you read about in the pages of a fashion magazine is worth giving a try. There’s a reason why the ridiculous claims made on the cover pages sound so unattainable and it’s usually because they are! Educating yourself on basic nutrition and how to read nutrition labels on foods can really go a long way in terms of sustaining life-long healthy habits.

Let me just say this now, there is no “secret formula” to weight loss. Anyone that is trying to sell you on that phrase should be ignored immediately. Sure you can do a strange juice diet with water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup to lose weight in a week because you’ll be starving yourself! Diets like that are cutting out essential nutrients that the body needs to remain healthy. Yeah you might lose 5 pounds in a week, who knows, but will the weight stay off? The answer here is no.

Don’t fall for the gimmicks of the weight-loss industry. People will tell you almost anything to get you to buy their weight-loss drinks, pills, powders, and foods. If you’re considering working towards a healthier lifestyle through dieting and exercise you need to be educated on the basics of how the whole thing works. You only get one body in life and it’s important, no, absolutely necessary, to take care of it. Not all proposed diets are fad diets but it is important to recognize the differences between the two.

Still don’t believe me about fad diets? Here are some tips from WebMD on how to spot a fad diet. A weight-loss plan is probably a fad diet if…

1.     The menu features extremely limited food choices (ex. only grapefruits and melons for fruits or rice and pasta for starches).

2.     You must cut out an entire food group, like carbohydrates.

3.     The food in your meals is chosen from only one food group, like all protein or all carbohydrates.

4.     The diet eliminates all types of fats.

5.     The diet promises fast weight loss, like a pound per day or more.

6.     The diet goes hand-in-hand with selling a product like weight-loss pills or specific food.

7.     Promoters of the diet make claims that sound too good to be true.

8.     The weight-loss claims are based on poorly backed and unproven pseudoscience.

9.     Promoters of the diet disregard traditional medical experts by saying that doctors don’t understand how the program works.

10. The explanation of how the diet works is simple but promoters say the true explanation is too complex for most people to understand.

Even the smallest of changes in your lifestyle can result in huge differences when given time. When you make your physical health a priority in your life, your perspective on dieting starts to change for the better. Start small if you need to: drink water or milk instead of soda, have a baked potato instead of fries, and reduce your portion sizes. There’s no shame in taking a stand for your health but doing a fad diet definitely isn’t the way to go if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

The USDA doesn’t just come up with diet standards for fun, you know those numbers actually mean something! Institutions like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the US Department of Agriculture can be trusted. The USDA and US Department of Health and Human Services work with Dietitians, Food Scientists, Doctors, etc. to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every 5 years. If you want to learn about how to reach achievable goals, there is a great place to start.

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Alla Hill

App State

Alla Hill is a Junior at Appalachian State University working towards a degreee in Nutrition and Foods with a concentration in Dietetics. She is originally from Greenville, SC but loves being able to call the High Country home for now! Alla's interests include creative writing, hiking, shoe shopping, cooking with friends, collecting bumper stickers, and tumblr blogging. 
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