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Why ‘DIET’ is a 4-Letter Word

Would you try a weight loss approach that has 95% odds of failing? If you’ve tried a fad diet, then the answer is yes. But don’t worry, you aren’t alone. The diet industry rakes in an average of $20 billion dollars per year and the industry is only growing.


A fad diet is defined by Segen’s Medical Dictionary as “Any of a number of weight-reduction diets that either eliminate one or more of the essential food groups, or recommend consumption of one type of food in excess at the expense of other foods. Fad diets rarely follow sound nutritional principles for weight loss, which focus on ingesting fewer calories and/or consuming more energy through exercise; fad diets are generally not endorsed by the medical profession.” 


Chronic yo-yo dieting is all too common and can create a level of diet trauma or diet fatigue that makes us want to throw up our hands and quit striving for better health altogether. We aren’t failing these diets – these diets are failing USHowever, despite this growing awareness that diets are false promises, we may still find ourselves gravitating toward a fad diet for one of these three reasons:


    1. We are seduced by the promise of rapid weight loss.
    2. If we feel a sense of urgency to lose weight yesterday, it’s easy for these desperate thoughts to lead to desperate measures, and then to be seduced by the promised quick fix that many diet ads use. However, research shows that fad diets are simply a dead end for sustainable weight loss, and can even exacerbate more of what we are trying to reverse, such as disordered eating and weight gain. 


    3. We are confused about how to eat healthy.
    4. As the hilarious video below, it can get confusing on what to eat based on the ever-evolving nutrition research, the false promises touted by many fad diets, and the rise of ‘nutritionism’;  a term coined by Australian sociologist of science and author of Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice, Gyorgy Scrinis. Scrinis states that nutritionism is more about ideology than science. In the book, he talks about how our relationship with food is impacted by calorie restriction, the morality of food (good vs. bad), and proposed superfoods or optimal diets. Remember in the early 90’s when fat was considered the ‘bad guy’ and we thought we were being healthy by eating Snack Wells? Now the fad diet craze demonizes carbs and we are avoiding them (even the ones we need) like the plague in the well-intentioned pursuit of health. Many of us are simply left feeling confused about how to eat healthy and the result can be nothing less than frustrating.

    5. We feel out of control around certain foods.

    Fad diets can provide an illusion of control over what may feel OUT of control, which could be our relationship with food. Diets are seductive and even provide a glimmer of hope that we can change eating patterns for the better by applying strict food rules. However, every restriction or feeling of deprivation is typically followed by a binge or overeating of the very food we are trying to avoid.  And if food is serving the role of companion, comfort, sole-source-of-pleasure, and/or stress reliever…? Going ‘cold-turkey’ will be even more difficult. Severe food restriction tends to only add fuel to that dependency fire instead of extinguishing it like we hoped.



    So, what is one to do then if diets are not the answer and we feel nutritionally confused, addicted to certain foods, and/or desperate to change our rooted eating patterns to achieve optimal health and weight?


    1. Stay away from fad diets.
    2. The second step is to get support.


    At H3 we can help you to realign with what feels nourishing and not depriving when it comes to food. We help our guests customize flexible eating plans that consider a person’s food preferences, health goals, home environment, and overall relationship with food. We help people to de-mystify health-supportive nutrition, so that nutrition confusion is replaced with nutrition knowledge that serves to empower one toward better health and well-being – in body and mind.