Don't Be Had By Diet Fads

Quick-weight-loss or “fad” diets can seem appealing. We like the idea that we can be slim and trim with very little time or effort. Some weight-loss diets may work in the beginning. This is often because the fad diet helps you cut calories in one way or another. But many of these diets restrict certain food groups or promise unrealistic results. They’re hard — or unhealthy — to sustain over time. They don’t help you develop a healthy relationship with food. As soon as you go back to your usual eating habits, the weight may start piling back on. This often leads to “yo-yo” dieting: losing and regaining weight over and over.

There is no magic formula for losing weight other than taking in fewer calories than you burn. The key is to find a healthy daily eating pattern that keeps you at a healthy weight and provides the right balance of calories and nutrition with appropriate amounts of regular physical activity. This will almost always mean changing your behavior and making a lifestyle change.

You can recognize a fad diet if it:

  • Promises “miracle” foods that burn fat.
  • Requires you to eat unusual amounts of only one food or food type, or to eat specific foods in certain combinations.
  • Requires rigid menus of a limited number of foods to be eaten at a specific time of day.
  • Promises rapid weight loss of more than two pounds a week.
  • Doesn’t warn those with diabetes or high blood pressure to seek medical advice before starting the diet.
  • Doesn’t include energy balance and increased physical activity as part of the weight-loss plan.
  • Doesn’t help you make the transition from weight loss to weight maintenance.

Choose Nutritious Eating Instead

Instead of a fad diet, follow these simple guidelines to make good food choices for life.

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods.
  • Choose skinless poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils and nuts.
  • Select lean cuts of meat, but limit your intake.
  • Limit saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Select low-fat dairy products.
  • Limit beverages and foods high in calories and low in nutrition, such as sugar-sweetened soft drinks and processed foods with added sugars.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Look for lower sodium options for prepared and packaged foods.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation. Don’t have more than one drink a day on average if you’re a woman, or two if you’re a man.
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