February 07, 2018

People who want to improve their health are often convinced to adopt the latest diet craze, and it’s easy to see why. The promises made about fad diets can be too good to resist.

We’re told we can lose weight without exercising, eat as much of one food as we want as long as we don’t touch another, and achieve incredible results in weeks by adding one mysterious ingredient to our diet.

But are any of these claims realistic, and are the conditions that fad diets impose on us actually healthy? Or is the real answer to a happy, healthy lifestyle to make changes to our attitudes that we can stick to permanently?

What Are Fad Diets?

The range of diets to which miraculous results are attributed seems to grow by the day. Although consistency in the foods prescribed by fad diets is hard to identify, there are a number of recurrent ideas that mark them out.

Fad diets often categorize some foods as ‘good’ and others as ‘bad’. It’s often claimed that the diet makes it easy to achieve a solid goal – usually weight loss – in a specific amount of time.

And they sometimes ban certain foods completely and suggest boosting your intake of a particular ingredient.

What’s Wrong with Short-Term Dieting?

Even well-informed dieters can be convinced by the latest craze, especially when it’s recommended by a respected publication or celebrity. Unfortunately, fad diets often produce disappointing results and could even be detrimental to your health.

Nutritionists stress the importance of balance and sustainability for a healthy lifestyle, but fad diets are usually unsustainable, and lots of people either give up or fall back into bad habits when they have ‘completed’ their diet.

They often quickly regain any weight they have lost or end up less healthy than before they started. Opting for a fad diet could also mean missing out on important nutrients – especially if you choose one which bans certain foods.

Do Fad Diets Cause Mental Health Issues?

Well, it is difficult to answer if fad diets cause mental health problems, as mental health issues can be triggered by a wide range of circumstances and events that we are subject to in our daily lives.

Modern society demands our appearance to be a certain way; the perfect body is continually on show with media projections of perceived 'happy and successful' people.

It's the desire to have the perfect appearance that drives most of us to try the latest diet trend; sadly, most give up before seeing any gainful results, while others even after completing a diet and losing weight will slowly return to old eating habits and inevitably regain any lost weight. Of course, there are successes and amazing they are too; a positive change is welcome whichever way it comes.

Dieting can be a stressful roller coaster ride for the emotions, from the highs of making the conscious decision to start a diet and embark on positive change, the lows of realising it's not for you, and everything in between.

Start Small - Take An Interest

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." This quote by Lao Tzu from the Tao Te Ching has been used to a lot but is particularly apt for a meaningful lifestyle change.

A good way can be to focus on one meal at a time, one day a time; rather than focusing on getting to a certain weight goal before a certain date.

Become Inspired To Eat Healthily

Once a week try something new for breakfast, there are lots of delicious and nutritious alternatives to cornflakes, and many of them are quick or can be prepared the night before.

From a simple chia seed pudding to a more elaborate super food pancake and smoothie combination, the options for a healthy nutritious breakfast are endless, then try and be conscious of yourself throughout the day, notice the mood you're in, how's you're concentration, did the day go well?

Keeping a diary of your emotions, personal performance and of course the food you ate will help you identify trends, finding foods that help us feel good and perform well should naturally lead us away from the self-deprecating gorging that so many corporations want us to do.

Changing Your Attitude to Food

Opting for long-term improvements rather than the quick fix offered by fad diets can be daunting. Rather than thinking, ‘can I put up with this diet for a month’, you’re faced with the challenge of gradually altering your attitude and the way you eat and exercise.

But the rewards of making lasting changes can be much greater than what can be achieved with the latest craze. Finding new ways to enhance your wellbeing can be incredibly satisfying. Instead of thinking ‘I can’t eat this’, your focus is on what you can eat, which can have positive, long-term results.

Discovering new, healthy foods you haven’t tried before is an adventure, while reducing portions and introducing more physical activity into your daily routine is a realistic way of maintaining a healthy weight.

Unlike fad diets, it takes time and commitment to make these kinds of changes and stick to them. But living every day with a positive attitude rather than counting the days until your diet is over could be well worth the effort.


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