How to Spot Bad Dietary Advice

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Happy New Year’s resolutions! It’s that time of year again when we all make promises to ourselves to improve some part of our lives. 2008 data found that 62.1 per cent of Canadian adults were overweight or obese so it is not surprising that weight loss is one of the most common resolutions each year. Well, here’s a big pat on the back to you for caring about yourself enough to get healthier. However, don’t be tempted by all the quick fix fad diets that are out there.

A fad diet is a very restrictive diet that relies on only a few foods or an unusual combination of foods for a short period of time. As fad diets are so restrictive, they often result in very quick short-term weight loss. They are not safe to follow long term and once you start eating the way you did before, you will regain the weight back and then some. What are some red flags for unsafe diet advice?

Stay away from diets that:

  • Promise fast weight loss (more than 1 kg or 2 lbs per week)

  • Promise a quick fix without having to change your lifestyle

  • Sell you products or supplements

  • Restrict or avoid whole food groups (eg. milk products, grain products)

  • Promote only one type of food (eg. grapefruit or cabbage soup)

  • Promote detoxing, eating foods in certain combinations, or eating for your body type or blood type

  • Promotes the latest newly discovered weight loss secret (eg. starch blockers, fat-burners, herbs, supplements, amino acids)

Be wary of unqualified people who offer unproven nutritional treatments or quick fixes.

In general, if it sounds too easy or too good to be true, it probably is. Fad diets can be tempting as they offer a quick fix. However, there is no wonder-diet, magic herbs, or supplement that will give you long term weight loss.

The only way to see a change is to make a change in your lifestyle choices. Eat a variety of healthy foods in appropriate portions and stay active.

Talk to a Registered Dietitian who can help you lose weight in a way that suits your lifestyle. Book an appointment with your Outpatient Dietitian or register for the weight management series at Alberta Healthy Living Program: Medicine Hat 403-529-8969, Brooks 403-793-6659, Toll free: 1-800-795-9709, Lethbridge area 403-388-6654 or 1-866-506-6654

 Pat MacIntosh is a Registered Dietitian with Alberta Health Services, Nutrition Services. She can be reached by e-mail, [email protected].

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