Spotting a Fad Diet

Earlier in the month, an online news article titled: “How to Spot a Fad Diet in 10 Easy Steps” was circulating around my various online networks. My 1st thought was “How in the world is this a 10 Step Process??” The only step you really need to detect a fad diet is to ask yourself: “Is this diet telling me that I can quickly, easily, and permanently lose the x amount of pounds I put on in the last 10 years in a few weeks or months?” If the answer is yes, WALK AWAY!

Anyways… curious I read the article anyway. While I do agree with some of the points it makes (i.e. – Be cautious of magical claims and false promises), there are other points I disagree with!

1) Ditching Dairy is Unhealthy: The article’s reasoning? ” Many dieters seem to blindly follow any diet, which recommends ditching milk, cheese, paneer and ice cream. These dieters tend to underestimate the importance of calcium in our diet. Calcium helps in making our bones strong, by keeping grave diseases like osteoporosis and regular fractures at bay. Analyse and evaluate your calcium and dairy intake as per your specific needs, preferences and allowances, but never give up on this food group as a whole”.

My response: The author is making it sound like dairy products are the only source of calcium in our diets. While it is true that these foods have a high calcium content compared to most foods (~300 mg per cup), there are several other naturally calcium-rich foods available to choose from as well as calcium-fortified options if dairy isn’t your thing! You can follow this link to search the USDA Food Nutrient Database to see how your favorite foods stack up in the calcium department. Furthermore, a lot of research has been done touting the health benefits of vegan diets. Of course, calcium may be a micronutrient of concern for this population, BUT certainly dairy is not VITAL as this article claims. There are certainly health benefits to dairy intake – I am not knocking that, but I also do not feel it is appropriate to say that eliminating dairy is unhealthy!

2) Weighing yourself everyday is unnecessary.  The article’s reasoning: “Please give serious second thoughts to any diet that advocates the idea of checking your weight on daily basis. Long-term weight loss or permanent loss of weight should be your ideal goal, rather than daily weigh-ins. You’ll witness immense level of satisfaction once you get on the weighing scale after a week only to witness a pound or two’s loss.”

My response: For some individuals -i.e. – those at risk for eating disorders, adolescent females, and normal weight individuals – I would not recommend weighing daily. However, turning to the scientific literature it is clear that increased frequency of weighing (i.e. – daily) is related to increased weight loss and better weight maintenance following weight loss than less frequent (even monthly) weigh-ins. (1,2,3,4, and so on). Also, just to add in this as well – Frequent self-weighing is NOT associated with poor body dissatisfaction or depression in overweight/obese adults [link].

For a similar, but MUCH better (in my opinion) article about spotting bad diet ideas, read this WebMD Article titles: “Seven Telltale Signs You are Getting Bad Diet Advice“.

Finally – I leave you with 1 more link to check out (The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym) and some great advice (c/o previously mentioned article):

“Don’t fall for gimmicks. The only tried-and-true method to lose 10 pounds in 48 hours is food poisoning.”

Thoughts? Disagree? Agree? Let’s Here It! Oh yes and – Happy Thursday! :-)

7 thoughts on “Spotting a Fad Diet

  1. Samantha says:

    Ironically I eat a vegan “diet” and have for years but have no problem ridiculing diets that drop food groups, say like fruit. :)

    Anyway, I think the difference is my eating preference is for life.

    I worry more for people that try the systems that are just to lose x-weight or for a plan that goes for so many weeks and then is over. Hard on the body.

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