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The Allure of the “Fad Diet”

Published on February 22, 2012

It’s that time of year again. The time when many New Year’s Resolution makers who chose weight loss as their goal, begin to abort the mission. For some, it’s because they tried to do too much, too quickly. For others, perhaps the reason is that they didn’t lose as much as they thought they would. And for another sampling of people, it’s because that [insert name of fad diet here] ended up being exposed for what it really is: An unrealistic and sometimes dangerous plan without much result. While I can appreciate someones desire to improve their quality of life, I think it is important we learn to do so in a healthier way. There are plenty of studies that show most of these trend diets aren’t effective for long-term, lasting weight loss. The question then, is this: Why do people choose these methods in the first place? The answer is: Hope for a faster, easier path to success.

When it comes to obesity, we talk a lot about the human condition. Humans are creatures of habit, we’re emotional and we have a strong trigger for things we think make us happy. Food plays a large role in how we (especially Americans) express and feel about ourselves. So it’s automatic, when we think about the word “diet” we immediately think of deprivation, starvation, and an absence of “happy” food choices. These are the thoughts that help that “Fad Diet” begin to take hold.

Usually, the Fad Diet is just plain awful. Sometimes it involves ingesting one ingredient over the course of several days or weeks. Other times it consists of a combination of ingredients that most people wouldn’t normally combine as “great-tasting.” Now you may be asking: if we like food so much, why are some of us so willing to subject ourselves to this type of torture? In a nutshell, it’s because the fad diet expert says we’ll ONLY have to do it for [insert number of days or weeks here.] The next thought is: Well, I want to lose weight. I can handle just a few [days, weeks, months] of this. A funny thing happens when we make this commitment: the weight DOES begin to come off. Feeling triumphant in our efforts, perhaps even losing the entire amount we hoped to, we begin to wean ourselves off the Fad Diet.

The result is typically the same in all cases: The weight comes back and often, we gain back more than we lost. The spiral of shame and unhealthy thoughts and feelings about food begin anew. We’re back in that same old pattern of yo-yo dieting. We learned the hard way what the Fad Diet expert didn’t tell us: Depriving ourselves from a wide range of foods for a long period of time isn’t sustainable long-term and most of the time, it’s also very unhealthy.

The best way to lasting and sustainable weight-loss is simple: A LIFETIME commitment to healthy food choices and exercise. There are many ways to go about this and plenty of tools out there that can help. But the Fad Diet isn’t one of them. Bookmark this post and catalogue it in your memory bank. That way, the next time someone comes to you with the new, latest-greatest cayenne pepper, lemon juice, molasses smoothie recipe for losing 50 lbs in six weeks, you can tell them thanks, but no thanks.

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