Fad Diet Red Flags | R.D. Miriam

How to know if a diet you’re considering is safe, healthy, or sustainable? R.D. Miriam is here to tell you!

Wanting the skinny on “fad diets”? Look no further than this update with Cat Kom and R.D. Miriam!

Fad diets seem to be the hot topic every year around resolution season, so much so that Miriam wrote an in-depth Focus on Food article about them. So if you want a deeper dive into that topic, check this out. For a quicker look at the fads, let’s hit you with the fundamentals (let’s call them “red flags”).

Red Flags of Fad Diets:

  1. Requires drastic change to your current diet. The program may require a huge shift in what you eat, when you eat, and/or how much.
  2. Promises big results, quickly. Trust your gut, friends. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Restricts one or more food groups. No carb? No fat? No starches? No fruit? No way. Your body needs the nutrition that comes from all the food groups.
    Alongside this one, we will also include the “all” of one thing diets. You can bet that eating only one food for a sustained amount of time is the opposite of healthy.
  4. Emphasizes the “morality of food.” If you learn only one thing from Miriam, let it be this: There are no “good” foods and no “bad” foods. When a diet labels foods as bad or makes them off-limits, you’ll probably crave them more. Human nature wants what it can’t have. All foods should fit your overall diet, allowing 5-10% of your favorite play foods to be incorporated.
  5. Uses buzzwords like “detox” and “cleanse.” Your body has beautiful features built right in to do these things naturally. You can help it along with fruits, veggies, and water, but no need to go extreme. If you’re not accomplishing this through natural digestion, you’re better off speaking to your doctor than purchasing a “cleanse.”
  6. Relies on miracle drugs, concoctions, pills, and powders. You can get all the health-foods you need by emphasizing whole foods, with beautiful, colorful fruits and veggies. Any supplements (such as vitamins) to your actual diet should be in consultation with your primary care physician and Registered Dietitian.
  7. Claims no exercise is needed (or even worse, no exercise allowed!). Our bodies are meant to move daily, and regular exercise is a critical component of that. If a diet program is restricting exercise, it’s likely at an ultra-low calorie rate, and the restriction is because you don’t actually have enough energy for an exercise program. (Remember: Trust your gut. This just sounds fishy, right?)
  8. Markets based on endorsements from non-experts like celebrities. When you’re validating a weight-loss program, look for reputable sources and evidence-based research, not paid celebrities. Remember that fad diet companies are for-profit, and marketers are biased toward making money much more than they are toward your actual wellness.

Remember to trust your internal alarm bells. Don’t get swayed by big, fancy claims where the “losing” you do will be money, time, and self-worth rather than sustained weight loss. When these fad diets inevitably fail, you won’t trust yourself, and let’s be real here – the mental component of weight loss and healthy eating is the biggest part of the battle. Let’s not self-sabotage from the get-go. Healthy, sustainable weight loss should be done over time with long-term goals. If you’re setting exercise goals to increase your workouts by 12 hours a month, you’re not going to try to knock it all out on the first day, right? Let’s look at our diet the same way.

Now, are there any “good” diets? Absolutely. In fact, “fad” is different from “diet.” The key is to look for a program that has been tried and true, around for a long time, AND is supported by evidence-based research. Two that Miriam mentions in her Focus on Food blog are DASH and the Mediterranean Diet. Neither are restriction-based, but rather focus on getting the best out of every food group. 

Ultimately, Miriam reminds us to look to the wisdom of our bodies. And after eating great foods from all food groups, you’ll have plenty of energy to try some body-sculpting, fat-torching workouts at Studio SWEAT and Studio SWEAT onDemand!