Awareness Month Article-Nutrition

Cabbage Soup? All The Bacon You Can Stand?
Here’s the skinny on all those fad diets.

We all know people who have been so desperate to lose weight quickly that they try out just about every fad diet under the sun. Whether it’s the fast for two days and then drink a glass of orange juice, or cabbage soup for a month, or taking fat-burning or carbohydrate reducing supplements rather than eating real food, crazy diets abound in our overweight-and-want-a-quick-fix society. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states: “Any fad diet or extreme weight loss plan that requires cutting complete food groups out of your nutrition plan will not provide you with the proper nutrition you need. Despite the fact that they claim cutting carbohydrates and fats will lead to weight loss, your body needs these nutrients to stay healthy.1

Did you know your brain gets its energy from carbohydrates? When your diet doesn’t allow for carbs, your brain power is weakened. If you are eating fiber and nutrient-rich carbs like whole wheat and whole grain breads, sweet potatoes, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and whole fruits instead of pulverized juices, you are giving your brain a nutritional boost. It is when you eat breads or crackers made from white flour, or get most of your calories from cookies, pies and cakes that you are eating refined carbs and sugar that the brain (and the rest of you) is undernourished.

Many fad diets seek to “burn” or eliminate all fats from your diet. But fats are essential for normal growth and development, absorbing certain vitamins and providing your body with energy. There are some fats not to avoid, like canola and olive oils, the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish such as salmon, and nuts or nut butters. If your diet consists of butter, margarine or other animal or solid fats, it’s time to change your eating habits and adopt healthier choices.

Most of all, if your diet lacks sufficient fruits and vegetables, you are on the wrong track. The CDC says that consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risks for numerous chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.2  It might be tempting to some to down sugar-filled “weight loss bars” rather than a salad with colorful veggies, vinaigrette dressing or fruit, but in the end, you are opening the door to binge-eating.

Granted, it is hard to lose weight, especially when we age or become sedentary. The only true way to lose weight is by having your input of food be less than your output. Exercise is recommended because it makes your input burn more quickly than sitting and participating in a diet that starves you of essential calories, nutrients, water and fiber to be an efficient human.

So drop those expensive diet supplements, eat-nothing-but-chocolate diets and feed yourself well and wisely. There are no quick fixes for being overweight—only sensible nutrition and exercise will help you lose those pounds--and not have them come back--with consistent practice over time.