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The facts about fad diets

Rose White • Jan 21, 2017 at 11:00 AM

In the new year, people often make a choice to become healthier. But it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why fad diets are so popular, because they are easier to learn about and they typically promise quick results.

Some well-known fad diets include the South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Paleo Diet, Raw Food and Volumetrics Diet. Despite their notoriety, Kelli Meyer warns against them.

“People want the quick fix,” said Meyer, a registered dietician at North Ottawa Community Hospital who has been helping people lead healthier lifestyles for 17 years. “That’s why (fad diets) are so popular, because they promise that. People might be able to lose the weight, but will it stay off?”

Fad diets often focus on cutting out certain food groups, which can be difficult to follow.

“The long-term success rate is poor because most people can’t maintain that,” Meyer said.

According to Meyer, this style of dieting can be overwhelming for people, which can lead to binge eating or overeating.

“Sometimes weight regain can be worse,” she said. “Like with the Atkins diet, people lose a lot of weight, but then they gain it back and then some.”

For the most part, Meyer advises against these kinds of diets. However, she has found that plans like Weight Watchers can sometimes be beneficial.

“It’s an all-foods-fit approach,” she said. “It can help (people) to learn about food, which can make them successful.”

Instead of fad diets, Meyer encourages people to make small changes over time.

“Just make small goals, like ‘I’m going to drink more than 64 ounces of fluid today,’” she said. “Then go on to another challenge. Do things that you can stick to and be realistic.”

It can be easy to get overwhelmed when trying to become healthier, so don’t do anything that’s unmanageable for the long term.

“I’ve seen (people have) the most success when they cut their portions a little bit and start eating more fruits and vegetables,” Meyer said.

Meyer also advises people to eat a variety of foods, instead of cutting things out.

“Eat from all food groups and foods you love,” she said. “Learn to eat those foods in moderation. Listen to your body and your hunger cues.”

Sometimes people can feel hungrier when they are stressed, so Meyer tells her clients to know the times of day where they might be triggered to snack.

“Often at night in front of the TV, people sit down after a busy day, and they have all these cravings,” she said. “Plan ahead with a healthy snack and know that’s a challenge time.”

Meyer mainly believes in the all-foods-fit approach, which means nothing is off-limits, but people should focus on portion control.

Her biggest suggestions for leading a healthier life are:

— Eating a variety of foods

— Drinking plenty of fluids

— Decreasing overall stress

— Getting enough sleep

— Exercise or do any kind of movement, like walking

— Eat a healthy breakfast every day

— Eat often

— Don’t skip meals

It’s most important that people start making these changes in order to have an overall healthier lifestyle instead of just a quick fix.

“A more realistic approach is more manageable,” Meyer said.

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