“Diet” is a strange word, used in modern terms to signify a calorie-reduced and temporarily adjusted way of eating. You can’t talk about your usual diet without someone asking if you are trying to lose weight; yet, “diet” also refers to the way you usually eat. Cats, humans, chickens, bears, and cockatoos are all expected to eat a particular sort of diet in order to stay healthy and that’s how one should regard food: as fuel to power an intricate system of nerves, veins, bones, and muscles effectively.
Unfortunately, most North Americans eat a menu full of sodium, sugar, refined flour, and bad fat. They don’t know how to balance meals properly, fail to understand the value of healthy fat, and think that synthetic replacements for sugar make them healthier. Portion sizes are out of control while most individuals perform far less physical work than their grandparents did although earlier generations ate much less. North Americans are overweight which makes them vulnerable to adverts for fad diets.
Decades go by and several new fad diets come out every year, each one claiming to be the best and last diet you will ever need. A “fad” is a trend; a way of talking, dressing, or eating which isn’t destined to last. Can you spot a fad diet from the start or does its popularity have to wane first? Any style of eating a person would have trouble sustaining in the long run is bound to be a short-term trend.
Examples include diets that don’t involve a lot of food. You eat one meal daily and replace the others with a shake. Most people get pretty frustrated after just a week or two. Even if they manage to lose weight and fit into special clothes, once an event is over and the special clothes aren’t needed anymore they drop a meal plan that is exhausting and counter-intuitive after weeks of constant hunger and fatigue.
One such fad is the lemonade diet favored by numerous celebrities. While successful for short term weight loss, one could never live like this and still be healthy. In fact, count the calories you are supposed to consume daily. When they dip below 1,400 you know it’s going to be really tough and you won’t have any energy for exercise. Few doctors would approve such extremes. Being skinny won’t provide lasting happiness. All these dieters do every day is think about food they can’t eat because they are so deprived, a fact reinforced by a constant message from their stomachs: “feed me something other than lemonade spiked with cayenne pepper.”
A low-carb diet is said to be highly successful, such as the South Beach or Atkins style of eating. Overall they are pretty sensible, but meal replacements and costs of membership (if you’re buying their foods) detract from the legitimacy of these approaches to healthy eating. Any program promoting meal replacements should always send up red flags. There’s nothing better than real, whole food for nutrition and satisfaction. Many so-called “health” shakes contain sugar or sugar substitutes, sodium, or colorants but little protein, fiber, or iron.
Learn to eat a healthy balance of lean proteins, real veggies and fruits for your carbs, and stay away from fad diets!