Fad Diets and Red Flags

Read this article to learn about the red flags of diet trends

Weight loss is still a hot topic. Despite the growing body positivity movement, many still believe that thin is the goal we should all try to reach. Desperation and low self-esteem can lead people to try fad diets that promise a large amount of weight-loss but are ultimately unsafe. This article explores the red flags you should watch for when choosing a dieting plan.

What is a Fad Diet?

A fad diet is any weight-loss plan that promises quick results. Moreover, these quick results are promised without requiring any lifestyle change on your part.

You probably won’t need to start exercising.

Isn’t it wonderful?

Wrong! This is one of the many red flags of a fad diet.

8 Dieting Red Flags

Fad diets have many red flags that you should be cautious of.
Photo by Janilson Furtado

So what are the warning signs that a diet is only a fad and maybe even harmful?

Fad diet red flags include:

  1. Sounds too easy or too good. If your diet does not require any lifestyle changes to lose weight, then it is unlikely to work.
  2. A promise to lose weight quickly, such as losing more than 1-2 pounds a week. Not only is this unlikely, but rapid weight loss is unhealthy and unsustainable.
  3. A restrictive diet plan. If your diet is steering you away from one type of food, perhaps it is time to reconsider this red flag. The act of “vilifying” one type of food is a major red flag to watch out for.
  4. “Miracle” products! There are things you can use to increase weight loss. Often, these substances are unregulated and dangerous, if they even work. The “miracle” product could be a way to gouge you for money.
  5. Entirely based on people’s stories of success. If your diet plan has a page of random, and potentially made-up people endorsing the plan or product, you should consider this a potential red flag.
  6. Misrepresentation of a scientific study. Most people are not going to sit down and read a research study. In fact, reading one is like reading a new language! Unfortunately, “entrepreneurs” use this to misrepresent articles in favor of their own product or regimen.
  7. The diet product is framed as a “secret”. Alongside a misrepresentation of scientific research is the hostility towards science. They don’t want you to look for scientific evidence or studies on this topic.
  8. No exercise or behavior change is required. As we know, effective weight loss requires two parts: eating healthy and living healthy. Beginning to incorporate healthy activities into your lifestyle is important.

A Healthy Diet Looks Like…

I’ll be honest with you. I do not like the word “diet” very much at all. A lot of negativity, body-shame, and restriction are associated with that word. For many people, it is a serious trigger word.

However, this article would be incomplete if we did not explore what a healthy diet looks like!

So, what green flags should we look for when monitoring what we eat?

  1. Ultimately, portion control and moderation are the keys to a healthy and balanced diet. In North America, we are taught to eat massive portions without considering our health. While portion control constricts overall food intake, it does not require us to avoid a specific kind of food.
  2. Fruits and vegetables are queen! Any diet that avoids leafy greens is a straight-up lie. We need them for vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and much more.
  3. A healthy diet should look beyond diet and into the lifestyle of the person practicing it. While you can lose weight solely based on what you eat, this can lead to dangerous restrictions on calories. Moving your body (even if it is to clean your house or walk to the store) is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

Red Flags, Diets, and the Final Word

Clearly, dieting is a trend that is not going to disappear any time soon. However, we still need to use our critical thinking when choosing which diets to incorporate into our lifestyles.

Ultimately, I advocate for listening to your body. If you start a diet, and a week later, you are sluggish and fatigued, that diet is not meeting your body’s needs. Your body tells you when it is unhappy. When we listen to what our body is telling us, we can live healthier and more fulfilled lives!

Another important fact is that when we eat what we love, our body absorbs more nutrients from our food!

There’s nothing wrong with trying to live a healthier lifestyle. We should all aspire to eat healthy foods and incorporate exercise into our lives. But, there is no shortcut to weight loss.

It requires you to build habits, change your activity level, and eat healthy well-portioned foods.

But fad diets are NOT the way to go! They can be dangerous and harmful, and most do not work at all. Keep this in mind the next time you make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and keep it off.

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