There is a new diet out every other week that promises you everything you ever dreamed of. You’ll lose dozens of kilos in weeks, smash your cravings and become a millionaire overnight! Ok, maybe not always to that extent, but you know what I mean.
But if you’ve ever tried out one of these trendy diets, you’ve probably failed at them. You might even think that it’s your fault – you weren’t motivated enough, you were too lazy, or you just can’t be trusted around food.
It’s not you – it’s them!
Let’s explore why fad diets flop – and what you can do instead.
Why fad diets are an instant fail
Diet is my least favourite word. That might seem strange for a dietitian, but as I always say, the word diet has ‘die’ in it!
Fad diets have warped the word into something that means restriction and short-term results. In fact, most fad diets are designed so that you DO fail – otherwise, the dieting industry couldn’t keep making money off you! Let’s look at why these diets aren’t the answer.
Fad diets are low in nutrients
When you eliminate foods without care, you’re eliminating nutrients along with it. Many designers of fad diets don’t understand the nutrients that your body needs to thrive.
A common example is a ‘detox’ that eliminates most or all protein-rich foods. What this fails to recognise is that you need amino acids for true detoxification to take place in the liver! You can make all of the fruit and vegetable juices in the world, but it’s not going to support detoxification if you’re not consuming quality protein.
Everyone’s ideal intake of food is a little bit different. But we all need to consume plenty of nutrients including protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you eliminate or reduce any of these, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Fad diets don’t account for your personal nutrition needs
By definition, fad diets are a cookie-cutter approach (mmm, cookies!). They don’t take into account how you feel about food or how you react to food.
For example, I’m allergic to nuts. So if a food plan relies heavily on nuts as a source of nutrients and doesn’t offer alternatives, it’s not going to work for me.
You might have allergies, intolerances or even just a deep dislike of specific foods. If those foods are a key part of a fad diet, you’re going to give up pretty quickly!
Fad diets are not designed to last forever
The entire point of a ‘diet’ is that it’s not supposed to last forever. It works better for the people who sell the diet or diet products if you ‘fall off the wagon’. The goal is for you to see some results, give up, end up gaining back the weight plus some extra and keep going back.
Fad diets focus on what you can’t have
The biggest flaw in any fad diet? It’s all about what you CAN’T have. You CAN’T have dairy, gluten, chocolate, sugar, and more.
Why is this such as issue? When you focus on what you can’t have, you become more stressed. But the real issue is that your unconscious mind doesn’t process negatives. When you say ‘I can’t have X, Y, Z foods’, all it hears is that you’re thinking about those foods!
So you spend the entire time thinking about those very foods. Your unconscious mind is focused in on those foods. So at the first opportunity – a bad day at work, a late night or a bad sleep – it kicks in and tells you that the answer is food. You cave, eat the food, and then feel instantly guilty.
We don’t need to jump on and off diet bandwagons to be healthy. In fact, it’s one of the least healthy things you can do for your body AND your mind. The best way to approach your health, weight and overall wellbeing is to look to the long-term.