Diet Fads that Drive Nutritionists Mad

A Month of Nutrition Fools and Follies

Celebrate Food

This decade it’s all about getting in touch with our inner caveman – the Paleo. If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you. (Goodbye breads, pastas, grains and sugars!).  We’re just going gathering and hunting now. 

Last decade it was all about the South Beach diet. What will be next?

People love diets. They’re just too appealing of a quick-fix to ignore! Go to a bookstore or library and stand in front of the health and wellness section. Literally thousands of books line the shelves, hundreds published each year, all with the magic formula to help us lose weight, keep us trim, fit, and fabulous.

The LA Times published a  timeline of a brief history of diet fads that includes everything from the Atkins and South Beach to an Inuit (yes, Inuit – eat all the whale blubber and caribou you want) and a high-fiber Graham Cracker diet. And as silly as some of them seem, when we buy into a Keto diet or Paleo diet, we’re really just substituting one bit of insanity for another, latching onto an idea that one “diet” will be our panacea.

So why do we fall, time and again, for the “diet craze”? Why do they seem to work, at least in the beginning?

Fad diets and radical changes in our diets do seem to work. The pounds melt away. But this success can bounce back at us as well as fall into the familiar yo-yo dieting cycle. 

Love Your Body

It’s important to understand that anytime we restrict calories and/or begin a high-intensity exercise regime, our bodies will respond. And oftentimes that response is what we’re looking for: weight loss. But we’ve learned from studies published that followed The Biggest Loser contestants that our bodies are determined to not keep weight off. Once our metabolisms slow down, they don’t bounce back. Our bodies, in fact, work double-time to gain back that weight.

This, of course, is not a good sales pitch in a dieting book. But dieting goes way beyond weight loss. Americans, consistently, view food as the enemy (or prize), instead of something to bring family together, celebrate tradition, and enjoy. In a world of dieting books and fads, food has become our number one enemy.

Most importantly, 99.9% of health books out there don’t address something fundamental: people come in all shapes and sizes and colors and ethnicities and genders and dis/abilities and backgrounds and religions. Each and every one of us is beautiful – as the person we are. 

Where’s that diet book? (It exists, and I link to it here at the end of the post.) But the thing is, when we start dieting, we’re missing the forest for the trees, so to speak. Because, at the end of the day, there is no “ideal weight” or “size” for anybody. There’s no magic BMI number or number on a scale. 

Body Respect There’s just us. And once we get past society’s distorted expectations and our own body hate, we’re opening the door to celebrating health, food, and our beautiful bodies. So, let’s forego the whale blubber and cabbage soup. Make room on our plates for high quality foods that include Grandma’s baklava. That sounds like a diet fad we could all go for!

I invite you to read Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Lucy Aphramore’s work:

BODY RESPECT: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand About Weight