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Fad Diets: Too Good to Be True?

Intermittent Fasting. Paleo. Keto.

Fad diets go by many names, but there’s one thing they have in common: big promises. Brittany Johnson, PLNU professor of nutrition and dietetics and a registered dietitian nutritionist, defines a fad diet as, “Any type of diet that promises too much, as losing 10 pounds in 10 days. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s screaming fad diet.”

Sarah Garcia, a senior nutrition major says, “media exposure from celebrities or Instagram ‘influencers,’” can also play a role in a diet’s popularity spiking. She says, “There’s a lot of interest in these fad diets due to the various ‘health benefits’ endorsed, however many of these benefits lack scientific evidence.”

Despite a diet’s rise in popularity, there is some concern that such eating plans could be unhealthy, and Johnson warns of the possible consequences of following a strict eating regimen. “They come and go leaving the person feeling like a failure because they can’t stick to the strict diets. A major con is the likelihood of developing disordered eating or even a full-blown eating disorder.”

Garcia agrees, saying, “Food does not have moral value so you shouldn’t feel bad or better about yourself based on what you eat or cut out.” Cutting certain food groups out of a diet is a major portion of many fad diets, such as not eating any sugar, grains or restricting calories to a certain range.

Johnson does say, however, that one pro to such a diet is encouraging people to eat more whole foods as opposed to only processed meals. This can lead to positive change and a healthier lifestyle.

Where does that leave you if you would like to eat healthier or lose weight? Here are some recommendations for small steps to take to make your life a bit healthier:

  1. Make sure that you have a healthy mindset when it comes to food. Beginning a diet with the wrong mental state can lead to feelings of failure, or an unhealthy view of one’s body.
  2. Focus on balance. Garcia says, “Instead of restricting yourself from that everything bagel or the chocolate chip cookies, think about how you’re going to balance that out with the rest of your days’ meals.”
  3. Keep it simple. Johnson breaks down healthy eating in very simple terms: she says, “It really comes down to the basics of eating mostly plant-based foods, lean proteins and healthy fats.”
  4. Do your research. Garcia encourages taking health advice from qualified individuals as opposed to Instagram influencers as a way to ensure that your eating habits are healthy and helpful.

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Jordan Lemke

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