Diet Fads – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, Keto, that weird maple syrup, lemon and cayenne pepper drink diet all seem to make their rounds. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center defines a fad diet as:

“A fad diet is a diet that promises quick weight loss through what is usually an unhealthy and unbalanced diet.

Fad diets are targeted at people who want to lose weight quickly without exercise.

Some fad diets claim that they make you lose fat, but it’s really water weight you’re losing.

Fad diets that are restricted to certain foods may work, but most are boring or unappealing. This can make them difficult to follow on a long-term basis. And some fad diets can actually be harmful to your health.”

Most sources will refer to fad diets in similar language to UPMC.

You should always seek the advice of a medical professional. But it is also important to note that in most countries dietitian is a protected title whereas nutritionist is not. Of course always check what your jurisdiction is regulating. For those who do not have dietary restrictions, or have figured out how to eat around those restrictions, it is good to have a food plate as a reference.

Below I have added the Healthy Eating Plate from Harvard University. Why do I like this over the food pyramid and others? It adds water consumption and exercise as part of the healthy eating plate. The food pyramid excludes this. In my university nutrition class we had to do a one week food diary, nobody included water as a part of their food diary and as a result we were all docked points. This taught us a lesson; water consumption is just as important as food consumption and it should be linked. The Healthy Eating Plate is also less vague than the previously used food pyramid and makes a difference between the types of oils, vegetables, grains and meat products. Check out the Harvard site for more info.

So what can you take away from this? Speak with a professional. If something is too good to be true it probably is. Eat healthily and drink water!

Harvard Food Plate

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, http://www.health.harvard.edu.

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