Combatting the Lure of Fad Diets
Why is a healthy diet so important?
A sufficient diet that contains all the nutrients your body requires is incredibly important. Many health conditions related to poor diet and nutrient intake are on the rise, including obesity. In fact, roughly 22% of men and 23.5% of women now meet the criteria for obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 kg/m2. Obesity is one of the most prevalent public health crises, escalating at a rapid pace. But even outside of obesity risk, it is still essential to maintain a wholesome daily diet so that your body can function the way it’s supposed to. We get our energy and nutrients from the food that we eat, so it is critical that we are constantly fueling up with proper food intake. The combination of a proper diet and active lifestyle yields many health benefits, including a decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
What about fad diets?
Fad diets are popular amongst the general population, as they often catch people’s eyes as being fast and easy ways to lose weight and get healthy. In reality, most of these diets are not evidence-based or researched-backed. In fact, they often involve elimination of nutritious foods, ingredients, and even entire food groups. Some may even instruct individuals to only eat at certain times. Though special diets may be required for particular health conditions or situations, for the vast majority of people, these fad diets are not adequate to support daily nutritional needs. Fad diets can lead to malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies, and an unhealthy relationship with food. They also aren’t sustainable, as they only offer a short-term solution to a long-term problem. These diets almost never include lifestyle modifications, which are necessary to maintaining one’s goal weight. Once these diets are stopped, individuals will often find they regain the weight back.
How do I know that a diet is a fad diet?
It might be hard to spot a fad diet, but there are some patterns that many will follow, including:
- Advertising the diet as a “quick fix”
- Listing out what are considered to be “good” and “bad” foods
- Making recommendations without evidence-backed research and methods
- Eliminating a major food group
- Promising immediate and dramatic results
So, what makes a healthy diet?
A healthy diet consists of a variety of different nutrients. These will include:
- Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Healthy fats
We can get these nutrients through many different types of food and food groups. A balanced diet will include the following types of food:
- Protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and nuts
A proper diet that includes all of the above food groups should be accompanied by an active lifestyle. This method is optimal to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose weight (if that is your goal).
With all the hype surrounding fad diets, it’s easy to get sucked in and fall victim to false claims. However, a diet should never be restrictive and instead should be balanced and nutrient-dense.
- Contributor, N. T. (2005, January 4). Understanding the importance to health of a balanced diet. Nursing Times. https://www.nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/nutrition/understanding-the-importance-to-health-of-a-balanced-diet-04-01-2005/
- Fad diets: Diet, types, tips. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9476-fad-diets