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Ditch those (Fad) Diets!

It sounds crazy, but you will not often find a dietitian recommending trendy, new diets. There are diets useful for certain medical conditions, such as the Mediterranean Diet for prevention of some chronic diseases, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, or the neutropenic diet for those with cancer or severely weakened immune systems. There is even new research out regarding a diet for brain health, called the MIND diet. These diets, or eating patterns, tend to emphasize benefits of certain foods as part of a healthy lifestyle. However, most people try fad diets to lose weight. Fad diets tend to be overly restrictive, not sustainable for long-term, and focus on extremely limiting macronutrients like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.n Monday, May 6 was International No-Diet Day and it’s time to break down why fad diets don’t work. Recent fad diets include juicing/detoxing, paleo, and keto, just to name a few.


  • These diets are extremely restrictive, eliminating certain textures, food groups, or sometimes severely limiting an essential nutrient like carbohydrates!

  • They are not sustainable or effective; new evidence shows that when we diet and severely restrict calories, our bodies go into “starvation mode”. Our metabolism slows to utilize the calories available, which can actually cause weight gain when we “eat normally” again. Thus contributing to the diet cycle.

  • They can be dangerous to those with certain medical conditions, including eating disorders, kidney/renal disease, liver disease, and diabetes.

  • Children are catching on to the adult diet mentality. The Eating Disorder Foundation has reported that children begin dieting around 8 years old. Adolescence is a time when children need calories (energy) and nutrients for growth and development. Fad dieting may deprive them of needed nutrients.


So, what is the answer?

What is the alternative to fad diets?


There are a couple of emerging topics among dietitians (aka nutrition experts). Intuitive eating is a way of developing a healthy relationship with food. See the article featuring RD Alison St. Germain posted on March 27 for more details! Health at Every Size (HAES) is an approach to providing healthcare free from weight bias, developed by Dr. Linda Bacon. The approach is adopted by the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) and rejects the use of weight, size, or BMI as indicators of overall health, and the myth that weight is something an individual can completely control.


If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating or HAES, check out the following resources:

1. Association for Size Diversity & Health.

https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=76

2. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

3. Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon.