Why Fad Diets Flop

I love this line from WebMd “The best diet is not a diet at all but a way of life that lets you “eat to live” as you enjoy healthy food, exercise and optimal health“. *

It seems with all of our supersizing, adding bacon and cheese to almost everything, and ignoring nutritional labels, we have forgotten how important it is to “eat to live” and not “live to eat”. To think we can eat whatever we want, and in whatever quantities, and not pay a price is short-sighted at best and life-threatening at worst. Rather than taking a long-term lifestyle changing approach to losing weight, many people turn to quick-fix fad diets. The article, The Truth about Fad Diets on WebMd, explains why fad diets don’t work. What does work?Burning off more calories than you take in.
 
Here is a partial list of fad diets from WebMd. Any of these sound familiar?
  • Low-carb diet
  • Low-fat diet
  • Liquid diet (using low-calorie, high fiber shakes)
  • Grapefruit diet
  • Detox diet (nothing says delicious and filling like a nice tall glass of lemon juice and cayenne pepper)
  • Cabbage Soup diet
  • Macrobiotic diet
  • Juice diet
  • Brussel Sprouts and Bananas diet

O.k., so I made that last one up. But if I put together an infomercial with a “doctor”, some great before and after testimonials, and a promise that you’d lose up to 30 pounds in 30 days, I could sell it, make a killing and retire to the Caribbean.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most people who keep weight off for the long term are those who adopt healthy eating habits as part of their normal lifestyle and who also get regular exercise. It is a lifestyle commitment – to yourself. Eating healthy can be challenging at times, so it’s important to educate yourself. This means learning who to trust for health advice – like your doctor – and not your friend whose aunt in Mexico sends special “magic diet pills” that make you lose all kinds of weight in just a couple of weeks. Oh, did I forget to mention that these same pills are essentially speed and will only allow you to sleep for 1-3 hours a night? And they make your heart beat faster than a hummingbird on caffeine? And that you are so on edge that you jump at the sound of your own name? And after you lose the weight it all comes back, plus more?

We have to get over this obsession with trying to correct long-term bad eating habits with a short-term fix and minimal or no effort. Fad diets simply don’t work. In most cases, they make the problem worse.

So after you decide to stop torturing yourself with fad diets, where do you turn? When it comes to choosing a weight loss program, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you “don’t fall for gimmicks when it comes to weight loss. Evaluate diets carefully to find one that could work for you for the long term.” You can find more information on choosing a weight loss program by reviewing the Mayo Clinic’s article “Weight Loss: Choosing a Diet that’s Right for You. The article recommends you do the following:

  • Involve your doctor
  • Consider your personal weight-loss issues
  • Look for a safe & effective program (this includes balanced nutrition and exercise)
  • Look for a program that encourages permanent healthy lifestyle changes

If changing habits were easy, we’d all do it. But isn’t your health worth the effort? I leave you with this quote from Lee Iacocca: “You’ve got to say, I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough I can have it. It’s called perseverance.”


*In the interest of full disclosure, I feel it’s important to tell you that I have never, and I mean never, been on a diet of any kind. I credit this to my parents, especially my mother, who encouraged an active lifestyle of playing sports and playing outside whenever possible, and not allowing me to eat too many processed foods full of added sugar and fat. But this does not mean that I am incapable of empathy when it comes to the challenges of healthy eating. As I write this posting, there is an empty box of Good & Plenty on my desk.

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May 2019
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