Every few years, we hear about the newest miracle diet: Atkins, South Beach, Keto, just to name a few. These diet-related trends tout great results, but they may not help you achieve lasting health. Here are some reasons why:
Diets are impractical.
Most diets require drastic dietary measures, such as completely changing food ingredients and portion sizes. Your eating habits and preferences are developed over years—they are not something you can break in a day. Yet most diet plans impose such sudden and extreme measures that incorporating these changes into a lifestyle is extremely difficult. Also, most diets are so limited that they provide little room for error. These chain of events can create an immense amount of pressure, anxiety, stress, and low morale.
Diets can limit intake of important nutrients.
Most diets are likely to eliminate some of the food groups in daily meals, such as carbohydrates and fats. Every nutrient has a purpose in nurturing and sustaining your body. By removing certain food sources for long periods of time, you also eliminate their nutrients. For example, by avoiding fats, you limit the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Extreme avoidance of fats in the diet can affect skin, bone, retina, and even hormonal secretion. Rather than completely removing these food groups from the diet, focus on healthier options from those same groups. For example, eat more whole grains rather than refined grains, and substitute lean proteins and beans in place of high-fat proteins and processed meat products.
Diets can create unnecessary cravings.
The drastic changes imposed by a diet causes your brain to become overly responsive to those specific foods. So, the more you refrain from consuming certain food items (as indicated by the diets), the more you crave those foods. Our brain is used to our eating and lifestyle habits. When you suddenly change your eating pattern, it is not ready to make instant adjustments. This in turn will increase your cravings for foods you ate before starting the diet.
What is a healthy “diet”?
A healthy diet:
- Includes whole grains, lean meat and plant proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oilseeds. It does not include many processed foods.
- Is personalized and allows you to slowly replace old habits with healthier eating behaviors.
- Helps you learn the right portion size, invest in tools to measure foods, and thoughtfully plan and implement gradual portion adjustments.
- Relies on expert advice, not unreliable web content, books, and advertisements.
- Emphasizes compassion on bad days.
The problem with diets is that they are one size fits all. Any new lifestyle change should be unique to you. Transitioning to a healthy diet should be a gradual and practical process that boosts your self-confidence in making healthy decisions, not lower your morale. Next time you hear about a new diet, take it with a grain of salt and truly scrutinize it. Your body needs your love and care, not the experimentation of fad diets.