I was working recently at school in a computer lab and a student walked up to me asking to fill out her survey. After filling out the typical female/male question, I already had questions regarding her survey.
Her first survey question asked, “Do you believe diets are healthy?” She said what do I mean? I asked if she meant by diet as “eating healthy” or the more name brand diets, such as Atkins or Low Carb Diet. After some thought, she finally stated she was surveying on people’s perception of fad diets.
Of course, as a nutrition major I “strongly disagreed” with all claims that a fad diet is the most effective method of long term weight loss. However, I started thinking about about “why” and “how” diets have evolved to be effectively hyped up and marketed.
It could be argued everyone’s on a diet–whether it’s a diet consisting of daily trips to McDonald’s to only chicken nuggets as main source of protein or eating 1/2 of one’s plate of fruit and veggies. They’re all describing a type of diet. A diet is:
kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats
To help you decide what kind of diet you want to go ahead with, let me give you some things to ruminate about certain diet features:
- Rapid Weight Loss: Not only is weight loss more than .5-1 lbs. not the most effective way to lose weight, one will also lose muscle, water and bone. With too much weight lost in a short amount of time, it can lead to the regain of weight
- Complete Restrictions of Foods or Foods Groups: Mind you, I’m not talking about eating foods if you’ve got an intolerance, sensitivity or allergy, but be wary of diet claims that either state unlimited quantities of certain foods (i.e. cabbage soup or grapefruit). You may think substituting a food group with a multivitamin will help compensate with missed food groups (i.e. no carbs), but you’ll still be missing critical nutrients.
- Exercise is not needed: Regular physical activity is needed for optimal weight management; it’s recommended one gets at least 160 minutes of exercise per week
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Lose weight without making any changes!: Be wary of diet claims that you can eat as much high calorie foods and still lose weight. In truth, it’s recommended to slash calories by 500 for a healthy, gradual weight loss.
- Once and for all magic pill! Permanent weight loss requires the implementation of healthy lifestyle changes. Doctors, dietitians and other leading experts are adamant that no “magic pill” exists.
- Every body will lose weight: there’s no one size fits all solution. Every one’s situation, body and needs are different! Contact a dietitian and/or your local health care provider to design a individualized nutrition and exercise plan.
The above claims are tempting to believe, but when looking for what you want to merge into your daily “diet”, think about the health claims that the latest diets have to offer. To help you decide if the latest diet is for you, ask yourself “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, the diet isn’t for you.