What do Kate Middleton, Victoria Beckham and Kourtney Kardashian reportedly have in common? A nasty three-letter word. Can't figure it out? It's F-A-D. As in fad diet. I can't even stifle my frustration, it's a confusing and dangerous trend that dumbs down the science of nutrition and point fingers at unassuming foods, causing a tailspin to ensue. Sure, it makes perfect sense to inject female pregnancy hormones into your belly, or even better let's exist on 500 calories a day and walk around with jars of baby food. If the newest thing was the "Air Diet" people would jump on the bandwagon and start saying "Gosh, I feel great, all I've had today is this amazing AIR! One thing you'll never see me or any of my clients do is a fad diet. As a registered dietician, I believe in eating whole foods, as unprocessed as possible and not starving yourself. Where is that going to get you?
So what's the problem with a fad diet anyway? Fad diets typically eliminate a food group, possibly causing nutrient deficiencies in your daily intake. I know it's tempting to believe every diet claim that pops up on your morning show, but here are four questions you should ask yourself to determine if it's actually legit:
1.) Where did the information come from?
Legit health claims come from academic institutions and medical centers. Research done by a food company always raises eyebrows. For example, most studies touting breakfast as the most important meal of the day are funded by huge cereal and grain companies...
2.) Is the information applicable to you?
If research found that a small group of 25-year-olds in Alaska tended to have lower cholesterol when eating salmon, take a moment to think. Are you in that age category? Are you from that region? Does your genetic or ethnic background even closely resemble theirs? If not, you should probably wait until larger studies are done among the masses before heading to Costco to buy that family pack of salmon. Don't be a narcissist, not all nutrition research applies to you!
3.) Are the foods recommended appropriate for your diet?
Remember this: foods that are supposedly good for you are only going to help if they work into YOUR personal eating habits. Grapes are a convenient snack that travels well and tastes great. But, if you are prone to overeating pickable, poppable foods, they may not be the best thing for you. A hand fruit, such as an apple or orange, would probably be a better choice.
4.) Does it eliminate an entire food group?
Yes, my book may be called Bread is the Devil
, but let's clear things up. I'm not saying that all carbs are bad for you and that we shouldn't eat them. It's simply a commentary that refined carbs (like the ones we find in that piping hot bread basket) typically lead to eating more unhealthy foods like cookies, cakes and candy. I even encourage sandwiches! A turkey sandwich on whole wheat is a great lunch option. So don't trust anything that tells you to eliminate a certain color food, or an entire food group for that matter.
Leave the science of nutrition up to the researchers in the lab. Everyday nutrition is not rocket science. Most importantly, remember that food is meant to be enjoyed. Every meal does not have to turn into a mini-crisis. You wouldn't take on every single fashion trend that came your way (hello, neon leggings) so try not to do it with your diet.
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