Author: Megan Hall, Licensed-Registered Dietitian
Fad diets come and go with the seasons, but unfortunately, so do the results. Many fad diets are unhealthy and some are just dangerous. The five bite diet, baby food diet, tapeworm diet and others promise fast results and total body transformation. However, the reality is these diets are not the best way to lose weight. Here are some red flags that can help you spot ineffective fad diets and healthy choices you can make instead.
Be Wary of Weight Loss Promises
Fad diets often gain followers by promising immediate, life-changing results. When you hear these claims, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Magic pills and meal plans that promise extreme weight loss without exercise or lifestyle changes are not recommended. Be skeptical of diets that promise immediate results. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight is an ongoing process. Setting realistic timelines and expectations for yourself can help you avoid disappointment when change doesn’t happen overnight. It may take time but you can make real, lasting lifestyle changes and stay on track with a balanced diet.
Watch Out for Extreme Restrictions
As a registered dietitian, I don’t recommend extremely restrictive diets or diets that cut out major food groups. Your body needs a variety of nutrients from all major food groups. Diets that encourage unhealthy habits and eliminate key nutrients are not sustainable for a long-term solution.
Pay Attention to Before and After Photos
Try to not focus on before and after photos advertising the latest diet trends. These photos are often misleading with lighting tricks, flattering angles and photo editing. Before starting a new diet, consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian. Make diet decisions based on your unique wellness goals and the nutrition science behind the diet.
Check Your Sources
Diet commercials featuring doctors, celebrities and other experts can be convincing. However, always check their claims for scientific accuracy. Many times, the people in trendy diet commercials are paid actors who do not have experience in nutrition. Do your research and ask your doctor or a registered dietitian about the claims you hear in diet advertisements.
Healthy Diet Tips for Lasting Results
Instead of joining the latest diet fad, several simple lifestyle changes can help you lose weight. This includes eating a balanced diet, practicing portion control, making healthy snack choices, building an accountability system and exercising.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Good nutrition is not just about weight loss. Your body needs a variety of nutrients in order to operate at its best. For lasting health and wellness, be sure to fuel your body with a balanced diet. This includes protein, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and other key nutrients. It can be hard to understand nutrition labels and keep up to date with nutrition guidelines. If you have questions, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Practice Portion Control
Instead of cutting your favorite foods out of your diet, try practicing portion control. Portion control allows you to enjoy your favorite flavors without the guilt of overeating. Buy prepackaged snacks to eliminate the guesswork when it comes to snacking on chips, crackers or cookies. Pay attention to the serving size on juice bottles, sodas and other drinks. Many low calorie drink options are packaged with two or three servings in a bottle.
Eat Healthy Snacks
Snacking is not necessarily bad when you have nutritious snack options and controlled portion sizes. Dark berries such as cherries, raspberries and other fruits are rich in antioxidants and make great snacks. Trail mix, vegetables with hummus and popcorn are also snack options that provide nutrients and help you feel full. You may even consider replacing three meals a day with more snacks and eating smaller meals throughout the day.
Build an Accountability System
It can be a challenge to make nutritious meal choices and form new healthy habits. Build an accountability system and encourage family and friends to make healthy choices with you. Having people to support you can make all the difference and help you achieve lasting results.
Exercise is a fundamental part of healthy living. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, be sure to include regular physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. This may include walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and other movements. There are ways for people of all fitness levels to get active. Find an activity you enjoy and always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet can have a big impact on your overall wellness. Before making changes to your diet and exercise routine, be sure to talk to your doctor. Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) takes a whole health approach to helping you live easier, healthier and happier. HPS patients can talk to me, licensed-registered dietitian Megan Hall, for personalized nutrition guidance.