Fad Diets are Out; Eating Healthy is In

You know the saying, Heidi Klum made it famous on Project Runway – “One day you’re in, the next day you’re out.” Heidi was referring to the world of fashion, and here I am referring to the explosion of interest in food and cooking in America. Fad diets, you are out! Eating healthy and delicious foods, you are in!

There is also a lot of interest in losing weight at the start of a new year. Popular New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, eating healthy and getting fit. With that comes the dilemma of how to do it. Many people turn to fad diets since they make promises, seem easy and many do help to lose weight. So, you might ask, if fad diets are easy and you can lose weight, what’s the issue?

The issue is that fad diets are too easy. Many of us want to avoid doing the harder work of learning something new, paying attention to what we are doing and changing our habits. It seems as if we want to be on autopilot and have someone else do the work for us. I mean, isn’t that what we are paying for when we “go on” a fad diet? Remember too, that once you “go on” a diet, it is easy to “go off” that same diet. And then what happens? In my years in clinical dietetics practice, I noticed that clients who used fad diets were good at losing weight, good at gaining weight and really struggled with maintaining weight loss. The real issue with using fad diets is that we don’t really take the time to learn how to have a healthy, nutritious diet that can help to both lose weight and maintain weight loss over time. Here is how to decipher what a fad diet might look like versus what it looks like to have a healthy diet.

Here’s what a fad diet looks like:

  1. It has special products you “have to” buy.
  2. It’s pre-packaged.
  3. You don’t have to think.
  4. You have to pay for the diet.
  5. You must eat or not eat certain foods at certain times.
  6. You must eliminate a whole food group(s).

 Here’s what a healthy diet looks like:

  1. You enjoy nutritious foods and beverages in appropriate portions.
  2. You eat regular meals and snacks that work with your lifestyle (including breakfast).
  3. You take the time to prepare and cook meals and snacks.
  4. You go food shopping regularly and read food labels .
  5. You drink water every day.
  6. You enjoy eating in the company of others.
Glass of Water
Glass of Water / Greg Riegler / CC BY 2.0

One great resource you can use to shop for nutritious foods is the Guiding Stars Food Finder. Search for foods that have one, two or three stars for good, better or best nutritional value.