Healthy or Fad Diet?

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...
Foods that are part of a healthy diet. Image via Wikipedia

Are you drawn to diets claiming quick weight loss? Are you tempted by those ads showing “before and after pictures” that highlight thinner bodies?

Before you are tempted, look at the diet closely to determine whether or not it is a fad diet. Fad diets claim that you will lose weight quickly, within a short space of time, following a simple eating plan. No mention is made of exercise, no reference is made on how weight loss will be maintained. “Good” foods and “bad” foods are often listed in the description, and at times expensive products or seminars form part of the diet package.

Often fad diets claim that their assertions are based on scientific fact. But are they? A way of eating supported by science should be open to revisions as a result of new discoveries. In addition, studies and reviews of the diet should be open to peer assessment.

Other characteristics of a fad diet are:

  • One food, or food group, becomes the main part of the eater’s diet. Think of the Cabbage Soup Diet and the consumption of cabbage for a week.
  • Some foods are cut out of a person’s diet because they are seen to be harmful: often one or more of the 5 food groups are eliminated. For example the Dr. Atkins Diet and the limited consumption of carbohydrates.
  • Certain foods are emphasised in the diet as they form a part of the person’s lifestyle. Fruitarianism is a diet that is often adopted for ethical, religious or environmental reasons.

A fad diet does not follow a balanced eating plan. Followers of these diets often feel a sense of deprivation and starvation as portions are often below what is recommended. And when dieters stop following these eating plans, weight is often regained.

What fad diets do you know of? Have you ever been on one? What has been your experience?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012