What’s the fad about fad diets?

There are so many diets in the media at the moment. There is the paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, the zone diet, the lemon detox diet, the raw food diet, the macrobiotic diet - just to name a few.


There are TV commercials, newspapers articles and magazines all reporting on how this new diet can help you shed weight, have more energy or assist with symptoms of food allergies and intolerances.


It is hard to know which one is best and whether it will work for you.


Diabetes Queensland dietitian Kathryn says not all diets are as healthy as they might first appear.


'Some diets may provide short-term results, but these changes aren't sustained long- term as the diets are difficult to stick to. We often refer to these styles of eating as fad diets," Kathryn says. 


'Fad diets often eliminate entire food groups and therefore important nutrients. They are not designed to keep you healthy and often have unforseen side effects.


'Depending on your individual needs, some may even harm your health.


'Often they are not based on any scientific evidence, and they tend to ignore the research that we know works, which sets people back and further away from their nutritional goals.


'The Australian Dietary Guidelines, Eat for Health, are the only 'diet' I stick to myself, and the only 'diet' I recommend for others. It's more a guideline for healthy eating choices, rather than a 'diet'.


'These guidelines provide recommendations for healthy eating that are realistic, practical and based on the best available scientific evidence.


'There is no 'diet' as such, and you don't have to cut out any foods because you can eat everything - in moderation as long as you take into account how much and how often you are having different foods.'


Kathryn suggests that there are a few tips that you can use when trying to spot a fad diet:

• It excludes or severely restricts food groups or nutrients, such as carbohydrates
• It is based on drastic kilojoule reduction
• It requires you to skip meals or replace meals with special drinks, powders or herbs
• It requires you to only eat specific foods or food in certain combinations.


'I always ask people when they are considering a change to their diet or lifestyle "can you see yourself doing this (the change) every day for the rest of your life?" If they say no, then it isn't the right change to make as changes need to be healthy and sustainable.'


For more tips on healthy eating, head to: Eat for Health.