Spring Forward Over Food Fads

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I’m Not Talking About Bell Bottoms
Fads don’t just apply to clothing and hairstyles anymore. Food and diet fads surround us and constantly vie for our attention! For example, most of us have a girlfriend who told us about the “miraculous” Cabbage Soup diet she adopted for a few weeks in order to fit into a dress for an upcoming wedding. Or we’ve heard the “personal testimony” on TV about the ultra low-carbohydrate dieter who achieved a brand new body just in time for swimsuit season. Even when shopping the aisles at the supermarket, our senses are bombarded by the latest trends in diet-friendly foods and supplements. Unfortunately, food and diet fads are everywhere, and it is up to each of us to filter out those gimmick-laden messages and stick to what works for the long term and what is safe for our total health.

Food Fads Impact Health, Not Just Weight

It’s true that many fad diets work when it comes to weight loss, but there is a big catch! Sure, you may lose some pounds quickly and without much effort, but long-term maintenance of that loss is unlikely, and many times the only thing you’ve lost is water and lean body mass (or muscle). Those fads of polyester bellbottoms and teased bangs were rather harmless – to our health at least! Food and diet fads, however, can be potentially harmful not only for our bodies, but for our minds and spirits as well. For example, so many Americans think of foods in terms of good or bad. This cultivates feelings of guilt when any bad food is eaten. Consequently, we label foods in our minds and half-heartedly vow to never eat the bad ones again. Deprivation diets rarely lead to true discipline.

There is a much healthier way to think about food.We would better serve our bodies (and our psyches) to consider foods in terms of their quality, unhealthy – better – best, and how often we should have them, rarely – sometime – often – always. This method eliminates the notion that certain foods must be cut out completely in order to be successful. Sweet and salty snacks, for example, can have a place in every healthy diet – just not a prominent one! Thinking of foods this way also teaches us to play a conscious role in our eating habits. God gives us a mind to discern, and we have more than enough knowledge about what is healthy and what is not; we just have to use it!

Skip the Fad-Diet Cycle
By adopting the key messages taught in the Live It plan and by developing personal eating habits for lifelong health, you get back to the basics. You finally finish fussing over food and diet fads that only lead to a cycle of curtailed joy and extended defeat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans define a healthy diet, one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, bean, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Why follow a fad when you already have the answers? Save yourself the roller-coaster and focus on getting enough quality foods in appropriate portions to make your diet nutritious, satisfying, and full of variety.

A Better Way
Choose foods sensibly by looking at the big picture. A single food or meal doesn’ make or break a healthy diet. When you consider your quantity or portion size and consume rarely or sometimes foods in moderation, all foods can fit! You’re not cheating when you eat a treat, you’re choosing. Practice mindfulness in your eating and accept your inherent ability to make much better decisions that those fad diet commercials insinuate.

Luke 1:37 reminds us that “anything is possible with God,” even when it comes to your eating habits! Of course, physical activity plays a big role as well. Find balance between food and physical activity both are essential for weight management, enhanced mood, and the prevention of chronic disease. Anything that tells you otherwise is a fad and a farce! Plus, you don’t have to be nearly as stingy with yourself over calories if you are exercising regularly and burning them off more efficiently!

Stand Firm
This spring, as the temptation for taking desperate measures grows stronger with every thought of shorts, tank tops and swimsuits, I urge you to stay on track and remember that success can be measured daily and not just by what the scale reads. Every mindful and healthy decision you make – to eat more fruits and vegetables, to cut down on the soda, to take the stairs, to exercise – is a step forward and steadily leaves the poor decisions you used to make behind!

To good health,

Erin Dubroc, RD, LD