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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fad Dieting

Ask any woman or man and they will tell you at some point in their life they have been on a diet.  Ask those same people to name a "Diet" they have tried or heard of and you will get a very long list. Paleo, South Beach, Gluten-free, Slimfast, No-Carb, Sugar-free, High-Protein, Grapefruit Diet, Cleanses, Detoxes.  I could go on and on.  The problem is, these are diets that provide quick but temporary results. Once you go back to eating normal foods you will gain the weight back and probably more.  With these types of diets, Fad Diets, your body is not being trained to get a normal, well balanced, portion controlled diet and you run the risk of not getting the proper nutrition to run your body. Some restrict entire food groups or only allow you to eat "real food" once a day. The reason why restricting certain food works is that it leaves you with less food options so you tend to eat less. Restricting certain foods or food all together can result in binge eating. Let's talk about some of the most common Fad Diets.

The Paleo Diet focuses on "fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and seafood", foods that "are high in the beneficial nutrients (soluble fiber, antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbohydrates) that promote good health and are low in the foods and nutrients (refined sugars and grains, saturated and trans fats, salt, high-glycemic carbohydrates, and processed foods...".

This all sounded good but they lost me when I read, "The Paleo Diet encourages dieters to replace dairy and grain products with fresh fruits and vegetables -- foods that are more nutritious than whole grains or dairy products." What? Dairy and whole grains provide very important nutrients and benefits.  This is restricting entire groups of food. Dairy provides Calcium, Vitamin D, and protein.  It has been shown to promote healthy bone growth, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of some cancers and diabetes.  Whole grains provide fiber, help reduce cholesterol and the risk of diabetes. While you can find these benefits in other foods you will need to work really hard to fit them into your diet. Furthermore, both food groups help with healthy weight maintenance.  Isn't that why you are on a diet in the first place? So why would you restrict two food groups that would help promote just that?

South Beach
According to them, "What you won't eat: For the first 14 days you won't have any bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, or baked goods. No fruit, even. Before you panic: You'll begin adding those things back into your diet again in two weeks. But for right now, they're off-limits. You also won't eat candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, or sugar for two weeks. Also no beer or alcohol. After this phase, though, you'll be free to drink wine again and eat a wider variety of desserts."

 My question to you is, why restrict them only for the first 14 days?  I'll tell you why, because they know that we cannot maintain such a restricted diet but they want you to lose the weight quickly so you are convinced that the diet is working.  I've been told by people that they tried South Beach but none have said, "Yeah, I can see myself eating like this forever."  I also have never heard of someone going on it twice. The other thing that bothers me is their reference to "normal size meals".  What is that suppose to me? Without portion control people's idea of "normal" is subjective. In my research I could not find anything about portion control though I need to say without signing up I could not access the full plan.

Slimfast (or other meal replacement diets)
These types of diets are fairly simple to understand. You replace 2 food meals and/or meal replacement bars.  A classic example of food restriction.  This one I am guilty of in my younger days.  I was not able to stick to it because I was not satisfied with drinking my food.  I always ended up eating anyway to satisfy the need to "chew".  Way back when they didn't have the bars.  Even so, I don't think I would have stuck to it.

As you can tell I am not a fan of Fad Diets.  Never have been. I have chosen to use a method of portion control, calories counting, whole and minimally processed food as well as exercise.  I would hate to label it a diet because it is really a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that I feel I can maintain for years to come. This method has helped me easily lose 50lbs. I'm never hungry when I shouldn't be. I don't feel deprived because if I want ice cream. I just eat a single serving.

My intention with this post is not to talk you out of one of these "Fad Diets" but to provide you with knowledge so that you can make an well-informed decision.  As obvious my dislike of these diets I have tried to provide you with accurate information and links so that you may do your own research and form your own opinion.  In spirit of this blog and my Facebook page I encourage you to share your suggestions, experiences, and opinions in the comment section below.  Life is a journey, let's Run it together.

While doing my research I found this funny little article that made me giggle about the History of Fad Diets. Who knows, maybe one day the diets I mentioned will make it to this list.

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