Why Diets Sucks

As a dietitian, I answer a lot of questions about weight loss. A LOT. Lately, the majority of questions are about short-cuts to weight loss in the form of body wraps, metabolism boosters, meal replacement shakes, low/no-carb diets, the Medical Weight Loss© program, eliminating food groups, etc. Here are my thoughts. (I originally wrote this over a year ago, and I haven’t changed my mind, so here it is again)…

Last week I got my hands on a diet that a local doctor has been handing out to her patients. It goes a little something like this…You can eat gobs of mayo, a quarter pound of cheese a day, unlimited amounts of sausage, bacon, hot dogs, and pork rinds, and wash it all down with as much diet soda as you want but you must completely avoid fruit, beans and whole grains. What the eff???  People look to their doctors for reliable health information, so to hand out a bullshit diet like this is irresponsible AT BEST.

Here are a couple of things to consider before going on any diet:

  1. Don’t. Diets suck. They’re restricting and unsustainable. If you go ‘on’ something, it would stand to reason that you eventually have to go ‘off’ it, right? What happens then? Usually, it’s back to square one (or worse).
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I don’t care where the info comes from; your physician, a fancy TV doctor, Facebook or your great-aunt Margaret. If someone touts a diet plan or magic pill, use common sense. Deep down you know that people who live to be 100 years old don’t get there because their diets are rich in hot dogs, fat blockers and artificial sweeteners.
  3. Carbs don’t make people unhealthy. Too many calories, too much processed food and too little exercise make people unhealthy.
  4. There is no miracle fad diet, body wrap, pill, injection, supplement, etc. to make you healthy. Like it or not, it comes down to eating clean and exercising. I wish there was a way around it because I would love nothing more than to gorge myself on pizza and chocolate at every meal, but there’s not.
  5. Just because something causes weight loss doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Sure, there may be some initial weight loss with miracle ‘cures’, but that usually comes at a price. Fat blocker pills can cause stomach cramps, constipation, or “intestinal gas with discharge”. In other words, bring a change of underwear with you when you leave the house. Low-carb diets are so restrictive (not to mention unhealthy), that they’re hard to stick to. Can you really go the rest of your life without eating an apple, a piece of bread or a bowl of ice cream?  Probably not.  If you can’t see yourself doing it forever, don’t do it at all.
  6. And finally…Can we PLEASE stop making this about weight? When we do that, we lose sight of what’s really important, and that’s good health. Eating clean and exercising make you FEEL good and give you energy to do the things you love. What good is losing weight if your insides are rotting, you have no energy or you’re so hangry no one wants to be around you?

I’ll end with this.  Eat fruits and vegetables, lots of them.  Eat whole grains, like quinoa and oats. Drink plenty of water.  Eat healthy fats, like avocados and nuts. Eat lean sources of protein, like beans, yogurt and/or unprocessed meats.  And please, for the sake of your sanity and those around you, eat a cookie once in a while.

Rant over.