OPINION: Diets: fact or fad?

Kelly Burgess

Kelly Burgess

COMMENTARY

Mention the word diet and everyone instinctively starts to cringe. What is it about the concept of “dieting” that brings waves of panic and dread into our minds? After all, everyone follows a “diet” whether he or she realizes it. A diet is simply what you eat on a daily basis. You may be totally unaware of your dietary patterns, or you may plan everything you will consume in a day, being sure to differentiate which foods are and aren’t “allowed.”

Not only can the topic of dieting cause a feeling of dismay, but it can also be quite divisive, even among the closest companions. Everyone has their own ideas about foods, when and how to eat them and where to go for sound “foodie” advice. In today’s culture, new diets created by “nutritionists” and endorsed by celebrities are available in overwhelming amounts. How do you really know which is reputable, safe and healthy for your body?

The time has come to crack the case of fad diets. One thing fad diets seem to have in common is, a few weeks later, they leave you right back where you started. While trying to spot that phony fad diet, make sure to look for:

Outrageous claims that seem too good to be true. Did anyone ever really successfully lose 10 pounds in a week and keep it off? I don’t think so.

Elimination of entire food groups. Very rarely is this a good idea unless you have a true allergy or intolerance of a certain food. Otherwise, remember that all food is nourishment for your body and depriving yourself of an entire category of food could lead to deficiencies.

Exclusive consumption. The exact opposite of elimination is the consumption of a narrow range of foods. Be wary of programs that require you to purchase and use only their brand of food products. I see a big, red “ulterior motives” flag flying.

The source, of course! Before embarking on a new diet plan created by . . . wait, who is this person? Do your research to determine the creator’s educational background and credentials. A registered dietitian, RD or RDN, knows best!

Now that you are expert fad-diet detectives, how will you know when you have found a friendly, not-phony diet? There are several tell-tale marks of reputable advice. Look for diets that are sustainable in your lifestyle. Ask yourself, “is this something that I can follow for an extended period of time?” Successful diet plans will be attainable and promote a healthy lifestyle long-term, not just smoothies and starvation for two weeks. Find diets that promote balance. Remember that all foods are nutritious and serve a purpose in your body to keep it healthy. Finally, don’t forget to be kind to yourself and allow room for error. You can always start fresh tomorrow if today didn’t go as planned. A successful diet will be one that allows a high quality life and leeway to savor good food while doing it.