Diet fads prey on people who are desperate to lose weight in a few weeks instead of making long-term changes to their eating habits. While they might seem harmless, fad diets can deprive people of essential nutrients. Knowing how to spot diet fads enables people to make healthy decisions.
Fad Diets Demand Drastic Changes
While healthy diets encourage people to get nutrients from most of the food groups, fad diets demand drastic changes that involve cutting out entire groups or nutrients. For example, the keto diet instructs people to eliminate carbs from their diet, including bread and pasta, in favor of protein-packed dishes like red meat and "fat bombs." Other diets tell individuals to eliminate fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains, organic food, and other essentials.
At first, dieters may experience initial weight loss. However, their bodies struggle to maintain weight loss in the long term. A healthy body needs every nutrient--even fat, sugars, and carbohydrates in small amounts. Without a balanced diet, the individual might suffer from lethargy, frequent illnesses, and frustration when their weight loss plateaus, making the diet useless.
Fad Diets Thrive on Rituals
Getting three meals a day is part of a healthy diet. However, fad diets demand strict rituals and claim that the slightest deviation will wipe out the dieter's progress. Some fad diets don't just eliminate food groups--they tell dieters to eat only specific foods, like particular types of meat, fruit, vegetables, or carbohydrates. According to the diet, anything else is poison to the individual's body.
Diet fads often instruct individuals to replace meals made from real food with shakes, protein bars, and other meal replacements. Typically, dieters have to buy expensive kits from the company's store. Some fads tell dieters to eliminate food altogether in favor of fasting and light meals, like a watery soup with few nutrients. This causes weight loss but compromises their health.