“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!” “Sprinkle this powder on anything you eat and watch the fat melt off of your body!” “Eat whatever you want and still lose weight!”
How many of us have heard these claims? The concept of dieting is not new. Diet plans that promise rapid weight loss are introduced so frequently that the consumer hardly has time to learn about one diet before a new one arrives on the market. Some diet plans can be healthy while others are dangerous or simply a hoax. So how can you, as a consumer, be able to distinguish which is which?
First, it’s important to understand what the word “diet” means and what it has evolved into. Why are diets so popular? What are companies trying to promote when they advertise their diet plan or product? Armed with this knowledge, you can look for specific clues that will tell you whether a certain diet plan is healthy or not.
A diet is the way we eat; we either have a healthy diet or a poor diet. Before the diet craze, it was not so much about losing weight or taking certain products; as it was about what we put in our bodies. In fact, being overweight was seen as healthy and beautiful. Over the last few decades, as the focus has turned to weight loss, dieting has evolved into a campaign that promotes rapid weight loss with minimal effort, and usually involves taking products to see maximum results. Why shouldn’t we diet? The US is facing an obesity epidemic; 60% of adults are overweight or obese, children as young as 10 are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease is the #1 cause of death among adults. On the other hand, we are also facing a crisis with young girls and boys developing eating disorders because of conflicting messages they hear in the media, from family, and from their peers.
For some, diet plans can have amazing results and add years back to a person’s life. For others, it turns into a lifelong battle that can affect their health long-term. Before jumping into the latest diet plan, ask yourself “What is this diet plan promoting?” and “How do they align with my goals?” When researching a particular diet plan, look for these clues to determine its validity:
- Are you required to buy special products?
- Is the diet practical for you and/or your family?
- Do you think this diet will satisfy your hunger?
- Could you follow this diet for the rest of your life?
- Does this diet promote healthy lifestyle changes?
- Does this diet promote activity/exercise?
- Is this diet a healthy choice based on current nutrition and activity recommendations?
- Does this diet eliminate food groups or drastically limit daily caloric intake?
When it comes to dieting, there is no quick fix. The foods we choose to eat and the activities we choose to do are lifelong decisions. When making a choice to lose weight, gain weight, get stronger, become more fit, take less medication, etc., consider that the only tried and true way to achieve those results is to go slowly, choose foods that cover all five food groups, do not severely restrict calories, and be active for at least 30 minutes a day/five days a week. While there are certain diets or eating plans that are considered healthier than others, it still boils down to ensuring that it is right for your lifestyle and needs, and will not adversely effect your health.