Spring is an opportune time to remind people of the importance of a healthy diet. Swimsuit season is only a few months away and many people are trying to slim down quickly to look good for the beach. Unfortunately, we are a quick fix society and many of us eat what we want all fall and winter only to find ourselves desperate for a diet that will shed those unwanted pounds with rapid speed.
We’ve all heard of them. The Grapefruit diet. The Cabbage soup diet. The Scarsdale Diet. The Zone. Atkins. Pick a decade and you can easily bring to mind the diets of the day. Women especially often relate their ages to what diet they were on at the time. For example one woman revealed, In high school we were all doing the macrobiotic diet, in college we were on the grapefruit diet, then we did liquid when Oprah did it and looked so fabulous. Then we did high carb, low fatthen low carb, high protein. I wonder what will be next.
The common factor in all of these diets is that they are Fad diets. The American Dietetic Association defines food fads as unreasonable or exaggerated beliefs that eating (or not eating) specific foods, nutrient supplements or combinations of certain foods may cure disease, convey special health benefits or offer quick weight loss. The truth is that there are no magic foods or plans that are a quick fix. Weight control and disease prevention are only achieved through long term healthy eating and exercise habits. People tend to think short term and give up when they do not see immediate results from their efforts. This is why fad diets are appealing. Many do offer short term weight loss but they are often difficult to stick to for the long run because they involve avoidance of certain foods or food groups.
Dee Sandquist, a registered dietitian (RD) and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association offers the following tips to help evaluate a new product, diet or nutrition recommendation:
-If it sounds to good to be true, it is- especially if the diet or product offers a quick fix.
-Avoid products offering a guaranteed cure or which promote limited time offers.
-Watch out for products that describe certain foods as good or bad.
-Is the source of information- such as a book author- also trying to sell a product, like supplements?
-Fad diets may require you to avoid foods or entire food groups. Countless reputable studies over many years have shown balance and variety are needed for good health. Any diet that requires you to give up whole categories of foods and to take supplements to replace their nutrients is, by definition, unbalanced, Sandquist says.
The bottom line is to think long term and stick to the recommendations in the Food and Activity Pyramid . Experts recommend a wide variety of foods from all of the food groups: grains, vegetables, fruit, milk, meat and beans, and oils. They also recommend that the foods we eat should be balanced with plenty of physical activity. Visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for specific recommendations for how many servings from each group you should be eating daily. The pyramid plan may not be glamorous but it is the tried and true path to real health. So before you think about the latest diet craze, think again and vow to be 100% Fad Free!