Are Fad Diets Hype Or Healthy?

I learned a long time ago that there is no quick, easy, “pass go,” approach to weight loss. It takes consistency, perseverance, knowledge, motivation, and support to sticking with a healthy nutrition plan that will last the test of time. It takes permanent lifestyle changes and slow, steady results to approach it healthfully. But, we do live in a society where immediate gratification is king and waiting patiently for results for something we really really want can feel like a long-torturous session of watching a seed grow. If we patiently wait for a seed to grow, giving it the right nutrients and sprinkling it with water and allowing sunshine to penetrate the ground, our little nonexistent seed produces beautiful results that will only get better with consistent caring and maintenance. On the other hand, if we take an already grown flower and plant it into the ground, but let it there without giving it love and attention, that beautiful flower will most likely die and wither away. You may have immediate gratification of beauty and results, but it will not last very long. With this, most people would say, “hell yeah, water those plants!” But, when it comes to health, beauty, weight loss, or any other practice that we want right now, logic seemingly shoots out the window and the need for immediate gratification takes over the brain. The health and wellness industry knows this mental struggle that we have and they know it well. Take a day and go to your local bookstore and peruse the shelves. You will probably notice all the books and guides out there promising you quick results. Maybe you will see”The shrinky-dink diet to shrink your butt AND clear up your skin in 3 days.” Sounds silly, right? Let’s be honest —if you saw that title, would you be tempted to at least thumb through it? Probably so! So, are fad diets hype or healthy and where should you pay attention or move swiftly onward? Let’s get real…

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First and foremost, before you would try any diet, nutrition lifestyle change, or supplements, make sure to check in with your doctor or naturopath first. You want to make sure that whatever you are doing is going to jive with your current health conditions, medications, or other supplements that you may take.

Fad Diet #1: South Beach Diet

South Beach has a three-phase approach that restricts what you can eat to bring you balance and then adds in as you enter a new phase. It teaches that there are good and bad carbs and the key to weight loss is making better choices. The key to weight loss is choosing the best of each. This fad diet is low in carbs and higher in protein and healthy fats. I love that it promotes scraping calorie counting, that which is the bane of my coaching existence! My biggest concern with South Beach is the lack of education provided on how vital it is be choosy with the types of food you eat. Not all food is created equal. South Beach allows soy and conventional dairy, that which can be huge allergens for many and can cause some serious health concerns. It does not emphasis the importance for organic foods and free-range meats that are void of added antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Did you know that all of those chemicals actually alter your hormones to bring weight gain and create an acidic body?

It is also quite restrictive for longer periods of time and it focuses on cutting down radically on carbs. The body and brain may really miss out on a lot of much needed nutrients with the absence of them. As you add carbs back in, lapsing into old eating habits may result in speedy weight gain, especially if you are carbohydrate sensitive! This has to be a new way of life, rather than a quick fix. My suggestion would be to do your research on the diet and make a solid decision if  you are willing to make lifestyle changes. The South Beach diet can be very balanced, but adding in some of the above mentioned points will bring you even greater success.

Fad Diet #2: Juicing

Juicing says that all you have to do is throw some fruits and veggies into a juicer, maybe add in a little ginger here and there, and you will have a super nutritious “meal.” Juicing is actually a very safe and healthy addition to your current diet. The key word here is addition. There are three concerns with a strict juicing diet.

  1. The fiber from the fruit and veggies is discarded therefore not allowing much satiety. You will consume a lot more calories throughout a day because you will most likely feel hungry more often.
  2. Part of gut/digestion health and the brain comprehending that you feel full is the act of chewing. When you do not chew your food, your brain does not send that signal to your gut that you are ready to begin digesting your food. If you juice, you need to “chew” the juice as your drink it.
  3. Your body will absorb the sugar from the juice more quickly. Keep the fruit content of your juices to a minimum, as those natural sugars can cause a spike in blood glucose levels. This is especially vital for diabetics!

Bottom line is that juicing is actually a healthy addition to your diet and has been shown to heal the body, but make sure that you are eating lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs to round out the juice. I would suggest sticking to one juice a day.

Fad Diet #3: Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is based around the concept that you eat as your cave (wo)men ancestors did and stick to meat, fresh produce, fish, eggs, and some nuts/seeds. The hand of a true paleo fanatic would never eat potatoes, dairy, legumes, and grains. Hell no! A true paleo diet is not super healthy, especially if you have preexisting health issues. Paleo is super heavy on meat and fats (of any kind) and a diet heavy on this is quite acidic to the body. When the body is in an acidic state, it is more prone to inflammation, diseases, and cancers.

An adapted Paleo diet can be healthy and practical. First and foremost, a healthy diet should be about getting the junk out and plumping it up with the good stuff. So, when you choose meats and fats that are organic, free-range, and heart-healthy, they can be a fabulous addition to keep the body humming nicely and to keep the brain functioning at maxium capacity. Raw dairy, legumes, brown rice, and pseudo-grains (think quinoa, amaranth, etc) are also an excellent addition to a healthy diet for most people. It also teaches good habits by  ridding a diet of sugar, white flours, and trans fats. I would suggest taking Paleo concepts and using them to round out your diet.

Fad Diet #4: Raw Food Diet

The lowdown on raw? A raw foodist does not cook their food above an average temperature of 105 degrees to preserve the integrity of the nutrients and not destroy them in the heating process. There are various types of raw foodists—some who include raw dairy and raw meat into the diet with other raw foods staples. First and foremost, the Raw Food diet can be super healthy and create a nice balance of alkaline/acidic pH levels within the body. There are a few areas that do bring concern to me…

  1. The protein intake is low and to bring satiety, you need to increase the amount of fats. Now, I have no problem with a higher fat diet (I actually promote it), but it may be a little too much when you are not supplementing protein.
  2. Newbies to the raw food diet will most likely feel bloated and gassy and pretty uncomfortable. You would have to really ease into how much fiber you add in and how fast.
  3. It can be pretty challenging and time-consuming to prep meals that are creative and warm. Now, being a raw foodie is all about simplicity. Yes. But, then it gets boring and you want to jazz up the cold meals with a dehydrator or soak your legumes to have some delicious sprouts to add to your salads. When you live a busy lifestyle, keeping up with the prep work can prove exhausting.

The health benefits definitely outweigh the potential frustrations of the raw food diet! To make it adaptable to modern life and to not feel socially isolated at parties or other food functions, I would suggest a “high raw diet.” This can present differently to many people, but the basis is, eat raw as much as you can and supplement with healthy cooked foods and proteins.

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“A healthy diet should be about getting the junk out and plumping it up with the good stuff.”

~Tansy Rodgers

 

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Nurture the flower of health and weight loss. All of these diets are held close to my heart because I dabbled in each one of them. What I learned is that a fad diet will never leave lasting results, rather it is what you learn and take from each to create lifestyle changes that are perfect for you. Every body is different, but the concepts of what is healthy is universal (and ever fine-tuning as we consistently learn about the effects of food on the human body). It is how you take the concepts of fad diets and use them to your advantage. Healthy eating to you, my friend!

ACTION STEP:

Take action now! Have you tried any of these fad diets? What worked and what didn’t work for you? Even if you have not tried them, look at some of the other diets you have tried. Make a list of how your body responded positively and how you can pull those positives into your lifestyle to upgrade your health and kick start your weight loss.

Go to the comment section. Make a comment and let me know what you have struggled with, what you have tried, and what your action plan is. The best discussions start between like-minded friends! Share this with your friends and get more people in on the action.

Do you currently have a plan that you follow and that works beautifully for you?  If so, I want to hear all about it! Live your life with passion and purpose…

Did you like what you read? If so, then get yourself over to http://www.tansyrodgers.com and sign up for my FREE newsletter. That’s how you receive my newsletters to your inbox and get to hear first hand about deals, news, and exciting new events that I only share with my newsletter subscribers!

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2 thoughts on “Are Fad Diets Hype Or Healthy?

  1. Hi, Tansy-

    My current struggle is the aftermath of an eating disorder. I went from eating 1,000 calories a day or less to eating a clean diet of 1,600-1,800 calories a day. I gained weight, which was certainly needed, but now it seems that I gain weight much faster than before my ED took hold.

    It’s hard to watch the scale go up just because I’m eating again. I don’t want to go back to old patterns but don’t know what new patterns to adopt for long term success.

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    1. First and foremost, I want to applaud you and tell you how proud I am of you for accepting where you were at and make a firm, conscious effort of taking your health into your own hands. It was very courageous of you to face your ED head on and decide that it was no longer ok to continue like that. Big hug to you! Secondly, the mental struggles (and physical adaptations) following an ED are going to be inevitable and it is going to be quite a struggle until you mentally, emotionally, and physically adapt into what is actually healthy for your body. With EDs, it is typically a control issue and a feeling of insecurity and a lack of self-worth. Food intake is so easy to “control.” Our bodies are so easy to “control.” And when we can restrict our food (satisfying the need for control) and see the weight shed off us (increasing what we mentally perceive as being more worthy and acceptable AND passively aggressively punishing ourselves), we instantly fuel the mental fire and start a dangerous cycle that could lead to an ED. My suggestion to you would be to get your focus off the food itself and onto the root cause. Andrea, the weight gain (healthy or not) is NOT the problem. The root cause is the problem. So, what are your deep insecurities and fears? How do you value yourself? Where in your life do you feel out of control (outside of food)? When you start to soothe the other issues, your fixation on food will start to not be so damning. As for what you may physically see in the here and now, I would figure out what it a healthy weight and what makes you feel beautiful, energetic, healthy, alive..vibrant as hell! Where ever that is, take note and stick around that. Do you feel sexy in when you feel strong and muscular? Do you feel hot to trot in your favorite dress? Whatever it is, play it up. One incredibly freeing thing you can do that can change your entire body viewpoint? Dance naked…in front of a mirror…while telling yourself outloud what you LOVE about yourself and how you look (only positive statements allowed here!) If you dare..:)

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