Column By Melissa Martin
It’s January. Beware of the barrage of fad diets. After a few weeks of holiday indulgence, many people make a vow for a New Year’s resolution of dieting. Weight loss schemes abound to bribe you into buying pills, patches, and products. “Walk into my parlor,” said a spider to a fly. The deception of dieting is found on television, social media, internet, magazines. Run away from the diet demons. Don’t get stuck in the weight loss trap.
Diet pills, diet foods, and diet books rake in mega monies—while scamming the weight-preoccupied and pondering public. Drug manufacturers try to mesmerize the masses with magic mixtures and mammoth lies.
The National Institutes of Health provided a summary of research on the safety and efficacy of the most commonly used ingredients in dietary supplements (capsules, tablets, liquids, powders, bars) on their website. The results found “the evidence supporting the use of dietary supplements to reduce body weight and stimulate weight loss is inconclusive and unconvincing, and the cost of these products can be considerable.” www.ods.od.nih.gov/.
“Losing a lot of weight quickly through a crash diet, for example, can lead to weakened immune systems, dehydration and cardiac stress,” according to an article on the PBS News Hour (WOSU Public Media). www.pbs.org/.
Decades of research show that diets can work in the short-term, but most gain back the weight. Food restriction does not work in the long-term.
Ten Things to Think About
1. Diets don’t work. Dieters lose weight and quickly regain it.
2. Dieting can be dangerous. Each year dieting is related to injuries and sudden deaths from electrolyte imbalance, malnutrition, and heart arrhythmias.
3. Dieting causes weight to cycle up and down. Weight cycling, or yo-yoing weight, is associated with higher death rates.
4. Dieting can make you feel tired and lightheaded. Your body may not be getting the energy it needs, or may lack certain nutrients.
5. Dieting disrupts normal eating. Dieting can lead to binge eating, overeating and chaotic eating patterns. Dieters override their internal signals, so often they don’t know when they are hungry or when they’re full.
6. Dieting can lead to disordered eating. Many experts believe the high rates of eating disorders in the U.S. are due in part to people dieting, losing weight, rebounding, and becoming chronic dieters.
7. Dieting can cause food preoccupation. People who diet and deprive themselves spend more time thinking about food and weight. This “drive to eat” is believed to be a survival trait.
8. Dieting diminishes women. Dieting reduces women to objects, with attention focused on their appearance, and keeps them playing the anticipation game. It erodes confidence and self-respect.
9. Dieting intensifies size prejudice. Dieters are more judgmental of themselves and others.
10. Diets put your life on hold. Live the life you want now. Accept and respect yourself as you are. Don’t wait for improvement.
(This information is adapted from “Top 10 reasons not to diet” in the book Women Afraid to Eat: Breaking Free in Today’s Weight-Obsessed World by Frances M. Berg.)
Read the “9 non-diet New Years resolutions for 2019” by registered dietician Alissa Rumsey. Join her Ditch the Diet Challenge. www.alissarumsey.com.
An article from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides some tips on how to identify and avoid fad diets, as well as some healthier tips to help you achieve your weight goals. www.eatright.org/.
The Bottom Line
If any diet drug, diet supplement, or fad food diet worked, whereas people both lost weight and kept weight off – the entire world would be buzzing. You can’t keep that kind of news a secret. Some individuals may lose weight in the short-term, but usually gain it back, and more, in the long-term. Fad diets are a recipe for failure.
Stop believing bogus advertisements with underweight models that are paid to pose with poise. Stop wasting your hard-earned dollars. Stop making scoundrels rich. Instead of burning calories and fat, weight loss supplements burn your money.
“Permanent weight loss is achievable only if realistic assessments every step of the way are provided and supported as part of the process,” according to a 2013 article in Psychology Today.
Weight loss and weight maintenance are complex and complicated problems.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.