A gimmicky diet promising amazing results might work in the short term, but it’s a bad idea both long term and health-wise. Here is how you can spot them — so you can avoid them and choose a better direction.
The new calendar year is often a time when people embark on health and weight loss journeys. The “New Year, New You” messaging and advertisements are abundant, and diet and weight loss program promotions are in full force.
We all know that a lot of these diets and weight loss programs are not helpful to our body, especially in the long term, but how can we tell which ones are safe and sound? The list below will help you to determine which diets and programs (or general strategies) may be harmful to your body (and your mind). This empowerment will save you money, frustration, disappointment, and potentially negative health consequences.
Here are the top red flags to look out for in order to avoid a diet or program that can be damaging to your health and unrealistic for long term weight loss maintenance.
- Eliminating a food group. Our bodies are complex and require a variety of food. The different food groups (such as grains, fruits, vegetables and protein) work together in order to provide the nutrition necessary to function at an optimal level. When a food group (or macronutrient – such as carbohydrates, protein, or fat) is eliminated, that often results in the body being deprived of nutrients that it needs.
- Having a restricted food list. All foods fit into a healthy lifestyle, even when there is a goal of weight loss. If a plan labels foods as “bad” or “forbidden,” and you are considered a “cheater” if you eat them, that is not only unrealistic for the long-term, but it also has a terrible effect on our mindset.
- Inadequate amounts promoted. Food is the fuel for our body. It is essential that we provide our body with adequate amounts of that fuel – hydration, vitamins, minerals, calories, and nutrients. We need to nourish our body with what it requires as opposed to depriving our body of what it needs in order to function optimally.
- Requirement of products. Under no circumstances should someone be convinced that they need to buy a product in order to be successful with weight loss or achieving a generally healthy lifestyle. Bars, shakes, and pre-packaged foods may sometimes be helpful, although they are definitely not a necessity.
- A rigid set of rules with little flexibility. Life is busy and unpredictable; we need to be flexible day-to-day in order to live a happy and healthy life. Inflexibility with our eating can interfere with our quality of life. Consistency and predictability are helpful but don’t always happen: traffic, extra homework, a simcha, a kid’s birthday party, a work event, or a fundraising dinner are a few examples of things that may cause a deviation in routine. You do not need to stress out about what will be served at a meal or event, but rather go with the flow in a flexible and well-rounded way.
Now that you have this list handy, feel free to make the educated and empowered choice… and don’t be afraid to speak up if you see others falling into the trap of a fad diet; they (and their wallets) will thank you one day.
Disclaimer: The information relayed is not meant to be used as Medical Nutrition Therapy or to contradict a medically prescribed diet. Please consult with your physician if you have specific questions regarding your specific health.