When it comes to fad diets, you already know that most of the tips they advocate are not building blocks for a healthy diet. A diet isn’t a temporary fix or a magic pill—it’s a lifestyle change that will put your eating habits on the right track for life.
So before you consider a fad diet that threatens to send your weight in a dangerous yo-yoing spiral, consider opting for healthy common sense instead by ignoring the following eight tips that fad diets preach…
1. Go Big or Go Home
Just like with every major life change, you need to start small and ramp up. After all, you wouldn’t sign up for a 5-mile race without ever going for a jog now, would you? Revamping your diet should also be a gradual process if you expect to stick to it and see results. Too many restrictions on your eating plan all at once will cause you to get frustrated and give up.
2. Favoring Certain Foods
One telltale sign of a fad diet is when it places onus on certain foods or food groups. For instance, a diet that preaches that you can only lose weight on a high protein, no-fat, or no-carbohydrate diet isn’t realistic. In reality, the body requires a well balanced mix of protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and natural sugars and carbohydrates from fruits to fuel the body with the essential nutrients it needs to life an active, healthy life.
3. Follow Expert Advice Only
Personal trainers, nutritionists, physicians, naturopaths, and more—all of them have their own beliefs when it comes to what we should be eating. While your doctor may recommend following the American Food Associations diet recommendations; your personal trainer may enlist the use of protein powders or a vegan lifestyle for optimal health. You need to find what works for you. Eating is a very personal experience so do your research and choose a diet customized to your unique needs, values, and lifestyle.
4. Success = Weight Loss
Many of us might need to eat healthier, but that doesn’t mean most of us need to lose weight. Energy levels, mood, sleep, body weight, heart health, oral health, and more are affected by what we eat. So how can success of a diet change be measured by weight loss? The short answer is that it can’t. Plus, purely monitoring your success based on shed pounds will leave you discouraged and giving up quickly.
5. Ban All Favorite “Bad” Foods
Eating a little healthier will mean different things for every individual. For instance, while you may need to curb your sweet tooth; I need to curb my temptation for empty carbohydrates, like white pasta and snack crackers. However, instead of banning all of your favorite foods for good, try substituting with healthier alternatives and leaving room to enjoy your version of a treat once a week. After all, if you’re a major chocoholic, how much success do you think you’ll have by trying to stay away from chocolate forever? Not much! But you can incorporate dark chocolate or carob in your baking and enjoy a few pieces of your favorite milk chocolate once a week. Eventually you probably won’t want it as much.
6. The Quest to Be Skinny
There are a ton of so-called “skinny” people out in the world who aren’t healthy. Sure some might be, but others resort to drastic means to maintain a thin frame—like food deprivation, diet pills, and surgical procedures that should never be considered healthy examples of good health. Instead of starting a diet to be skinny, improve your eating habits to feel more energetic, be more active, sleep better, and get sick less often. If weight loss occurs, consider it just another benefit of your newfound healthy eating habits.
7. Calories Are the Enemy
No, calories are not the enemy when it comes to a healthy diet. And while some of us may need to cut the amount of calories we are eating, the body requires a certain amount of calories to survive, thrive, and be active. Cutting the amount of calories you eat drastically can actually make your body retain fat because it thinks your starving. The same goes for sugar and fat, not all sugars (i.e., natural sugar from fruit) and fats (i.e., omega-3 and 6 fatty acids from salmon, nuts, and avocados) are bad for you. In fact, you need balanced amounts from each food group to survive.
8. Diet Tunnel Vision
Fad diets usually focus on one thing: losing weight. However, we all know that drastic weight loss, too fast, too much is not healthy or maintainable. Focusing on one aspect of any diet (i.e., cutting calories or cutting carbs) is most often futile because it doesn’t focus on the larger picture: improving health. Instead, focus on smaller personal benefits of your new diet—improved energy, loser fitting clothes, more confidence, better skin, better sleep—and that will keep you motivated.