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Saying No to Fad Diets as a Family

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Learn why parents need to watch out for fad diets influence on families and kids!

If you’ve fallen for a diet fad, join the crowd – many Americans have. So how can you spot a diet fad? If it offers quick results when it comes to weight loss it’s most likely a fad diet. Although fad diets can result in weight loss, they are not sustainable long-term. They are designed to help people drop pounds quickly, but the weight is easily gained back and often is. Some long-term fad diets can be very harmful to your body, resulting in nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, and fatigue. When you stop doing them, fad diets often leave you right back where you started – or worse, with a higher ratio of fat to muscle. Be the best role models for good health for your children – avoid fad diets that teach kids and families to take short cuts based on diet propaganda.  Focus on making small changes – they can add up to a big difference in your health. Here’s how to spot a fad diet so you can avoid falling into the trap.

  • Any diet – even if it has its own books, websites, or food products – that promises weight loss of more than 1-2 pounds a week is not going to be sustainable.
  • Diets that require you to purchase supplements.  This generally means that you will be cutting out certain food groups in order to lose weight, which diminishes the idea of a healthy balance. The supplements can also be quite costly.
  • Any diet where you only consume a very limited list of foods, for example, the grapefruit diet.
  • A diet that eliminates foods research shows are great for you -for example, if it says beans are bad and to avoid them. Years of research shows beans are not only a good source of energy and protein but have been linked to longevity, lower body mass index, lower risk of heart disease and reduction of some cancer risks.
  • The diet promotes “miracle” foods or supplements.
  • It states it has the answer to your body’s biochemistry.
  • They either have no scientific explanation at all or they use snippets of scientific literature to make claims about how their diets work. Twisting the facts is a common practice used in diet books.
  • Diets that are rigid, or inflexible, requiring you to follow specific menus with specific combinations of foods.
  • Exercise isn’t mentioned at all.
  • Famous people are used to promote them, or medical doctors endorse them.
  • There are a lot of testimonials from people that lost weight on the diet, or other case studies or stories.
  • They make you feel like you are in on something like it’s a club where you know the secret.

Steer clear of any diet where you need to purchase something like a book, a specific food product, or a supplement. Fad diets reel people in with good marketing and they prey on the hope that many people have that they will lose weight fast. Fad diets may help you lose weight, but they are restrictive, unhealthy, and can cause you to regain any lost weight and perhaps even more. The best way to lose weight is by making lifestyle changes, exercising, and eating healthy.  It may not be as glamorous as a fad diet, but it does work in the long run.


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About the Author

Picture of Melissa Halas, MA, RD, CDE

Melissa Halas, MA, RD, CDE

Melissa is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with a master's in nutrition education. She is the founder of SuperKids Nutrition Inc. Read more about her Super Crew children’s books and her experience as a registered dietitian on the About Melissa and Shop page. Discover how nutrition can help you live your best health potential through her plant-based books and newsletter on Melissa’s Healthy Living.

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