Choosing Sustainability Over Current Trends
Nutrition and diet information overwhelm the news, social media, and day-to-day discussions. But how do you know what’s sound information and what is just a trend? We all want to stay up-to-date with the latest nutrition advice, which makes it easy for new trends to catch on and for individuals to profit off of those trends. When looking for sound, sustainable nutrition advice, trust an expert (registered dietitian), check their background for conflicts of interest (supplements that they sell), and interview them first to make sure they are a good fit for you.
What Makes a Fad Diet?
In many cases, fad diets will make claims to sell a product, are lacking in research, will promise quick weight loss, and will label foods as “bad” or “good.” If you’re doing home research, first look at Quackwatch.org to see if there are any major red flags in the information you’re reading. In general, you don’t need to follow a specific “diet” in order to meet your nutrition needs. The focus should be on fueling your body well and learning to enjoy favorite foods in moderation. If you find the plan you’re following to be difficult or extremely restrictive, what are the chances that it will be sustainable for you long term?
Athlete nutrition needs are specific based on sport, position, and individual performance needs. Certain fad diets can limit main nutrients for performance, impairing the athlete’s ability to move optimally. For example, athletes on low carbohydrate diets will likely experience fatigue and low stamina before, during, and after workouts. A low carbohydrate plan can limit glycogen storage and inhibit glucose utilization for high intensity and endurance activities. When the body does not have enough carbohydrates to fuel itself for exercise or daily functions, it uses any glycogen stores, fluid and electrolytes to accommodate the activity as much as possible.
Fad diets can also cause you to have poor weight control long term because they do not always teach healthy eating habits or sustainable eating habits. You can explore if your current nutrition plan is sustainable by asking yourself, “can I eat this way forever?”. If the answer is “no”, it’s likely not a long-term solution.
Maintaining a healthy weight is about mindful eating and exercise. Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes a day most days of the week will help promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight. It is absolutely appropriate to enjoy favorite foods from time to time. Being 100% restrictive from favorite foods can be detrimental to weight loss goals. Typically, over-restriction leads to over-indulgence which leads to guilt, shame, and disappointment. Making healthy choices is important, but these choices must be something that you think you can continue to make day-in and day-out. If your current choices don’t feel sustainable, it may be worthwhile to explore different options to improve your health and wellness.