We have all seen the ads for these diets. They all promise the same things – you will lose TONS of weight in no time with no effort. You follow their diet and it will just melt away.
This is just another attempt to prey on vulnerable desperate people trying to lose weight, and part of the multi-billion dollar scam known as the diet industry.
So what do I consider a “fad diet”? I did some digging around to try and find some definitions of what defines a fad diet. I came across a great set of definitions on a website from Pennington Biomedical Research. They gave some of the following definitions:
1. It gets you to eliminate 1 certain food or food group
2. Or conversely you can ONLY eat 1 food or group of foods.
3. It promises rapid weight loss like 5 or 10 pounds a week
4. It is often written or endorsed by a celebrity
5. Lots of pseudo science to back it up, or make it sound like it works.
6. It simply sounds too good to be true.
If you want to see more of what they had to say, check out http://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/pdf/pns/PNS_Fad_Diets.pdf
These diets come and go, like all fads, and people go from one to the other in that desperate hunt for the one that works. I don’t mind so much that some of them are a simple waste of time, but I really take issue with some that can actually harm your health in the long run.
It took me a very long time to figure this out, but losing weight does not happen by not eating a certain food or group of foods, nor is it eliminating certain foods. It is in balance.
It is the balance of healthy foods, water, exercise and sleep. It has been proven that poor sleep can actually cause you to gain weight but that’s a subject for another day.
To show how people think in terms of fad diets, allow me to share a story. Here in Vancouver there are a couple of big health shows every year. There are lots of lecturers on lots of health related topics (though I find most have a vested interested in flogging their sponsors product) but there is also a large trade show type area with booths showing everything from healthy cooking to natural foods to supplements to exercise gear and more. It is something my daughter and I attend together every year. There is one aisle my daughter and I have dubbed “the weird stuff aisle” where all the more -let’s just say – metaphysical stuff is on display.
One year I was working a booth for TOPS, the weight loss support group I have been in now for 4 years. People would come to our booth and ask “What is this about?” so we would tell them about the support and the education we get at our meetings.
People would ask, “Well what foods do you recommend” or “What diet do you follow”. I tell them we support healthy eating, portion control, and exercise. We don’t sell a certain diet or any products or plans. We tell them weight loss is a process. We didn’t gain it overnight, so it is not coming off over night.
Their eyes kind of glaze over like they don’t understand what I have said.
That particular year we were across from a quick fix booth that sold some kind of shake that looked like lawn clippings in a blender. After talking to us and glazing over, people would turn and say “Oh look, there’s a quick way to lose weight. Let’s check it out” and scurry away.
I have nothing against smoothies as a fill in, or for some people who hate breakfast, they are a good substitute, but you can’t live on shakes. I occasionally have a bar as a morning snack after I carefully check the calories, fat and sugar on them. Some bars touted as healthy are no more healthy than having a candy bar.
I also go to these fairs every year because there is a chance to talk to people like naturopaths, chiropractors, and other health practitioners. There are classes on exercise, healthy cooking and much more but there are also many fad diet booths selling false hope in a pill or a shake or a bar.
The fad diet commercials we see on TV are also interesting to investigate. I was watching one while watching TV one evening, and they promised all kinds of things – huge weight loss, ease of use etc. The funny part was it said in the fine print at the bottom “Works best in conjunction with diet and exercise”. If you are watching what you eat and exercising, you don’t need the pill!
Exercise equipment they sell on infomercials are almost as bad as fad diets. They promise washboard abs with minimal effort. I used to work for a store in a mall that sold a lot of this equipment. Most of it is destined to be a very expensive clothes rack.
When I work out, I do a lot at home with some weights, resistance bands and some WII programs. I also do my Tai Chi, although that is more for light exercise and not weight loss, but when I want to use good cardio equipment or weights, I go to my local community centre.
I don’t belong to a gym because as I found out in the past – I don’t know where fat guys go to get in shape, but it isn’t the gym. The ones I checked out seemed like you had to get in shape first and THEN go to the gym. I don’t experience that at the community centre gym, but to each his own.
What am I saying in all this? If you are thinking of trying a diet you read about, or see on Dr. Whoever’s TV show, think first. Does it have the false promises or restrictions that define a fad diet? Can you achieve the same thing with just healthy eating and exercise? Is it just to good to be true? Think before jumping in to yet another fad diet!