Every spring, another round of diets sprout up. Some are solid plans with sound diet advice, and others, not so much. Want to spot the ones you should skip? Here are nine tips to help you do so:
You're on the wrong diet if it...
1. Cuts out entire food groups. Each major food group provides an assortment of extremely important nutrients. Together, as part of a varied diet, these food groups work together to create an intricate balance of nutrients that your body needs to function at its peak performance. Cut out an entire group (e.g., no grains, no fruit, etc.) and you're likely cutting out vital nutrients. Of course, if you're lactose intolerant (you need to avoid dairy) or have celiac disease or gluten intolerance (you need to eliminate gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats), you'll need to make up for those nutrients in other places, such as plant sources of calcium or fortified dairy alternatives and gluten-free whole grains.
2. Makes you feel like you're not good enough unless you lose weight. Who you are as a person has nothing to do with a number on the scale. You are absolutely good enough as-is. That's the point. You deserve to feel your best. Self-love and feeling good, so you can enjoy life to the fullest, should be the motivations for making healthy changes presented by a diet.
3. Is stressing your social life too much: If you're continuously stressed out because of the rigidity of your diet, then it might be time to look elsewhere. For example, if you cancel dinner with your friends on more than one occasion because you're supposed to only drink a smoothie for dinner. While adopting a healthier lifestyle can mean some social discomfort at first, your diet shouldn't make you feel isolated or helpless. The most sustainable diet is the one that makes you feel empowered in any setting.
4. Doesn't offer flexibility for travel, dining out, etc. A meal plan can be a truly valuable tool in not only teaching you what to eat but also illustrating how much to eat. However, a plan without tools that teach you how to translate that same eating style into your order at a restaurant or options at an airport doesn't help much unless you're planning on staying home for the rest of your life (see number three).
5. Focuses on a temporary diet plan and not habit changes. Sure, you can do anything for a week! And jumpstart weeks where you follow a stricter diet can be motivating. But healthy eating needs to be a daily endeavor in order to have an ongoing positive impact. And in order to sustain healthy eating, those choices need to become habits. Expect it to take at least 30 days for a consistent choice to become a habit.
6. Expects you to buy pricey supplements. A healthy, balanced diet can provide all of the nutrients you need to support your body's many amazing functions each day. If you do consider taking a supplement, it should be a conversation you have with your healthcare team. The bottom line on weight loss supplements is that the research is iffy, at best, for many of them, the supplement industry is loosely regulated, and in many cases they are unnecessary, ineffective, and even harmful.
7. Claims that one food or beverage will create weight loss on its own. There is no single food or drink that will create weight loss. Losing weight is a matter of assessing your portion choices, eating foods that help you feel satisfied for fewer calories, healing your relationship with eating and your body, being active, and setting your life up to maintain these ongoing choices. No food burns calories in an amount significant enough to matter to your weight. No food cancels out the other foods you're eating. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
8. Doesn't give you energy to exercise... and you're moody. Any diet that is so meager with its food offerings that you feel lethargic is not healthful eating. Eating healthfully means eating in a way that supports daily activity. And getting the hangries (hungry + angry) usually means you've gone too long without eating (or aren't eating enough).
9. Promises you'll lose more than two pounds per week. If you're doing consistent weight training and eating healthfully, you can lose up to 2 pounds each week and ensure that the majority of that weight is fat. Losing more than two pounds each week typically indicates losing muscle and water weight that will quickly be gained back.
For more by Stephanie Clarke, MS, RD, click here.
For more by Willow Jarosh, MS, RD, click here.