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The Truth about Fad Diets

What is a Fad Diet? Unfortunately, the phrase ''Fad Diet'' has become an absolute norm regarding diet, weight, health and wellbeing. A Fad Diet is a popular, short-term approach to weight loss. It will typically promise fast results quickly, an extremely tempting offer for anyone struggling to feel motivated, lose weight and reach their goals, particularly if they have an event or holiday looming soon.

However, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. What a fad diet really is, is a short-term ''fix'' enabling weight loss by drastically cutting calories by one way or another. There are many fad diets on the market, from only drinking juices to just eating eggs, drinking celery juice daily, or only eating soup. One of the most popular fad diets is to cut out food groups, normally carbohydrates, from your diet. This drastically reduces the number of calories but also excludes a significant food group from your diet. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for the body and contain important nutrients like fibre, which can help protect against some cancers, diabetes and potentially aid weight loss.

Herein lies the problem with fad diets. They come with a compromise. Yes, you may lose weight quickly by cutting out bread, pasta, rice and pizza, but you are also cutting out an important food group, which can upset the workings of the body and give false hope of long-term success.

You may be delighted with a short-term result of weight loss; however, a lot of the weight loss will be water weight loss, so after a couple of months, you may find that losing weight with this method becomes harder and harder to sustain.

The second problem with this diet is that while cutting out a whole food group like carbohydrates, you will most likely increase protein and fat intake. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but many popular low-carbohydrate diets can encourage far too great an intake of saturated fats that can negatively affect your overall health.

Thirdly, is this a sustainable diet for you? I know I don't want to go without bread, pizza or pasta again if I don't have to. To truly find a diet that works for you, you need to find a way of living healthily that you can continue for more than a month at a time.

If any of these Fad Diet books worked, there wouldn't be room in the market for the next one.

The best evidence of Fat Diets not working is the bookshelf in your local bookshop or online. The ''healthy living'' section is always packed with diet books, promising to do what the book before them couldn't. The problem is that if any of these Fad Diet books worked, there wouldn't be room in the market for the next one.

We all need to find a sustainable way of living a healthy life in the long term. It may sound boring, but moderation is the key to a healthy diet you can enjoy throughout life. Don't cut out food groups; enjoy your food, choose healthy options and moderate the not-so-healthy options. People are always amazed to watch me in a restaurant as I tuck into bread, French fries and ice cream. I eat most of the time healthily, so I am fine choosing unhealthier options sometimes. In the grand scheme of things, I enjoy some unhealthy foods, and I don't feel that it is a problem for my overall health as the unhealthy choices in my diet are in the minority, and the healthy choices are in the majority.

My advice for how to put this into practice is to try to eat balanced meals. Rather than trying to cut out any food groups or what you may perceive as a ''treat'', try to add healthy foods into each meal. A great start is to add more vegetables to each meal. This way, you will naturally include more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and portion-wise, you might find that your plate has a greater proportion of vegetables than it does the rest of the meal. Whereas before, you might have eaten a huge plate of chilli con carne with lots of rice and cheese, if you now start by loading your plate with lots of vegetables like courgettes and peppers, you might naturally put a smaller portion of chilli, rice and cheese on top, as your plate already looks full. This way, you still feel satisfied but have a better proportion of healthy foods in your meal.

There is no quick fix to weight loss, as there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet. You must find what works for you and something that doesn't feel like a punishment. Eat good, healthy foods that you enjoy the taste of, and keep your favourite treats in your diet as well. If you want to lose weight, keep these treats to a minimum. Don't choose every treat; choose a treat; there is a big difference. Focus on the positive by adding goodness into your diet; you will find it a much easier path to healthy eating.


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