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Friday, January 11, 2013

6 Tips for Spotting a FAD Diet

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"Fad Diets are a Temporary Solution to a Lifestyle Problem" 
I am often asked about "The Latest and Greatest" health food, supplement, diet, or nutritional program. Most of the time, these kinds of discussions make me uncomfortable because (usually) the person asking is already convinced that this fad is the cure to all of their problems.
The truth is, I am (and always will be) very skeptical.

It's not my fault I'm a skeptic, don't blame me (insert smiley face). Or think that I am being difficult. Blame it on my college education. The art of questioning was ingrained in me throughout my schooling. This was part of my education, to question the questionable. In each and every one of my nutrition and health course, it was pounded in our brains to question, research, and make sure the information is proven, not based on opinion, testimonials, or promoted for profit.
I was taught nutrition as a science, and what I took from my education and experience was the ability to help others achieve health through this science. I won't be convinced of the latest health trend if it contradicts science. And sometimes it is hard to explain my skepticism without devoting a few hours, a textbook, and a power point presentation to explain the science.

The science and medical field have a trusted system in place to sift through nutrition and medical quackery. Otherwise, just about anyone could claim their beliefs as fact. All new health discoveries for medical treatment, disease prevention, and therapeutic nutrition must be researched, peer reviewed, and proven by the world's finest scientists, doctors, and nutritionists before it can be considered healthy, safe, and fact. Not just one doctor, one "expert," celebrity, or a even a few medical professionals can claim their knowledge and beliefs as fact. There is protection in place for falsehoods.

I'll give you an example where this system was utilized: The connection between gluten and Celiac Disease or therapeutic nutrition for Autism. Through this trusted quackery-detecting system, these nutritional connections are now considered valid, and are common practice.

The medical field is not hiding anything from us, it is not a conspiracy theory. When I hear people say this, it offends my education, along with the entire medical community. The American Medical Association and Dietetic Association want to help us, they want to cure and prevent illness and disease. The medical field IS progressive. Most of us do not realize that many of today's cures were once "progressive" ideas, even coming from holistic medicine. Scientists, doctors, and nutritionists are discovering new facts each and every day. It is exciting! But we must not get caught up in media or commercialized hype, nutritional quackery, claims, testimonials, or "so-called experts". All of the conflicting information can confuse even the most informed consumer. We must also be sure that the source of our information (doctors, books, online, etc) have been peer reviewed to the point where their views are now considered scientifically accurate and could even be published in a college textbook, or lectured at any accredited University.

Usually I can find something good about "The Latest and Greatest" health trend. But most of the time, I can also find something to question. Just remember, if "The Latest and Greatest" sound too good to be true, it probably is.

Steer clear of diet plans, pills, and products that make the following claims and follow these:


1) The diet claims a rapid weight loss.

Truth: Slow, gradual weight loss (1-2 pounds/week) increases long-term success. There are no foods or pills that will magically burn fat. If the diet severely restricts calories (under 1200), this is called starving.

2) The diet restricts or eliminates certain food groups or requires specific food combinations.

Truth:  Eliminating food groups may cause deficiencies of nutrients. Combining or sequencing certain foods does not enhance weight loss. Avoid any diet that eliminates or severely restricts entire food groups, such as carbohydrates and fat. There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating foods at specific times of day will help with weight loss. Eating the wrong combination of food doesn't cause your body to burn fat immediately or produce "toxins" in your intestines as some plans claim.
3) The diet promotes “miracle” foods or makes promises too good to be true.

Truth:  Food, pills, powders, and herbs do not "melt or burn fat away", exercising and reducing caloric intake does. No certain food can undo the long term effects of overeating and under exercising. No super food will alter your genetic code. Some ingredients and herbal products are dangerous. Just because they are on the market, doesn't mean they are regulated by the FDA.

4) The diet implies that weight can be lost and maintained without exercise.
Truth:  Exercise builds lean tissue that requires more calories, therefore increasing our metabolic rate. If you only diet, you are more likely to gain back the fat.

5) The diet relies on rigid menus, supplements, juices, powders, etc.
Truth:  Limiting food choices and adhering to strict eating schedules is unpleasant and will increase the likelihood that you’ll binge and give up. A diet plan should never tell you to skip a meal. Find a plan that you can follow for a lifetime and that allows for all food in moderation. Ask yourself, "Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?"

6) The diet contradicts nutritional science.
Truth:  Find a plan that emphasizes eating a variety of foods including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and dairy products that are low in saturated fat. Avoid processed foods, eat foods that come from nature. Eat foods that are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, protein, and complex carbohydrates. It's as simple as that!

Looking for a site that will give you all the valid "Latest and Greatest" in nutrition science?
Go to The American Dietetic Association's website

They are the "Gold Standard" for nutrition and will never lead you astray.
FADS don’t last- neither do fad health trends!

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