With appearance and health being at the forefront of society, many people choose to go on a diet at some point in their life…some without even realizing it…
Weight Watchers, Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Whole30, South Beach, Cabbage Soup Diet, Boiled Egg + Grapefruit, The Zone, Fat-Free, Sugar-Free, various Detoxes…
“It’s not a diet, it’s lifestyle change…”
I can whole-heartidly believe in a healthy lifestyle change 100%–but when it becomes just as much of an obsession as a fad diet–it can quickly transform into a diet.
I want you to sit back and think for a moment what your incentive was for trying a fad diet…what was your purpose for it?
For me, it was to be skinny. Yep, original–I know. I was “bigger” than the other girls in school, and all I wanted was to be thin just like them. I tried what seemed like everything–skipped meals, went vegetarian, only ate fruits + veggies, fat-free…and you know where all of this got me? No where. I had little to no energy to exercise (which was the only thing that could uplift my mood), I was irritable (hello HANGRY), and wasn’t losing weight! Food became an unhealthy obsession I struggled with for YEARS, all sprung from society’s marketing for fad diets.
So, what’s wrong with fad diets?
Poor relationship with food
The fad diet mindset can easily turn your thoughts into negativity when it comes to food and nutrition. Many times, especially if your goal is strictly appearance driven, you will do anything to look a certain way…restrict, diet, over-exercise, etc. If a diet tells you to stop eating a certain food or food group, you’ll do it. If the fad diet tells you a food is bad, you’ll refrain from it. This quickly turns into a poor relationship with food, and when you consume the “bad foods”, you are overwhelmed with a guilt that consumes your thoughts. These thoughts are likely to turn into an obsession.
Anything can become and obsession–diets included! A lot of times these low-key obsessions start out innocently…
For example, when I was 10 years old, I went dress shopping. I found the perfect dress, and someone told me, “Katrina, now you can’t gain any weight if you want to buy this dress”…
Now, at the time I didn’t think anything of it…but eventually I started asking people “do I look fatter than I did before I ate, I gotta fit in this dress”, and it became an obsession with not gaining weight…and that is where my restriction and poor relationship with food began.
This obsession can be with appearance or with food. You can be constantly thinking about food, what are you gonna eat next, when can you eat it, where is it gonna come from, etc. That obsession has absolutely no benefit to reach your goals…it will get you no where. There is more to life than obsessing about food…
Possibly missing out on key nutrients
Most fad diets encourage an elimination of some food group–Keto: carbs, Paleo: dairy + grains/legumes, Whole30: dairy + grains/legumes for 30 days, Atkins: carbs. These fad diets are teaching people that these “food groups” are bad for you, causing you to have a “fear” of these foods…when really they each serve a purpose in human physiology.
This is how the cycle goes:
Poor relationship with food–> Obsession over food –> Missing key nutrients
Carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy–our needs are dependent on activity level, but every.single.person needs carbs. Now, of course certain medical conditions (such as epilepsy) may require very little amounts of carbs–but most of the human population bodies thrive off of carbs.
While we can live without dairy, especially since there are many alternatives now, dairy products have a lot of nutritional value–calcium, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, B12–and if you want to have it in your diet, then do so!
Grains and legumes are nutritional powerhouses full of fiber + protein + carbohydrates. Plants are good for you, even if they are “starchy”. Grains contain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium) which our body needs for metabolism. Legumes are the “King of Fiber” containing nearly 7 grams per 1/2 cup serving and are considered a good plant-based protein source.
While yes, you can supplement essentially any nutrient now, it’s always best to get from food first, then supplement if needed. However, our bodies are designed to metabolize FOOD…not factory made supplementation…
Quick fixes can hinder your long term wellness goals
What happens when you restrict + count calories + eliminate foods??? You lose weight.
What happens a few months later when you reach your “goal weight” and realize you can’t sustain the diet choices you’ve made over the past few months? You start eating food again…and a couple things may happen…
a) If you’ve been restricting calories and food, your body may store food as fat because your body doesn’t know when it will get food again.
b) You could over-indulge in satisfying foods because you’ve been restricting them for so long–leading to excess weight gain.
The problem with fad diets is that they do not teach you how to sustainably eat for life. Going the rest of your life without your favorite food is unrealistic…which is why making SMART goals to transform your lifestyle is the way to accomplish your health and wellness goals.
***DISCLAIMER: These diets may have worked for you, and if they did–I am glad. However, research shows these fad diets as not being sustainable for life, which is why I do not promote them. Do what is best for you and your body, and if you are ready to make a true healthy lifestyle change, look to registered dietitians for help! There are several of us on social media here to debunk nutrition myths.
Until Next Time,
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN
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