Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a magic wand you could wave and all your excess weight would promptly drop off, leaving you with the figure you’ve always dreamed of? Sadly, despite the hype and celebrity backing, it’s unlikely that Protein World’s Slender Blend is going to transform you overnight into the next Khloe Kardashian or that alkaline water will lose you anything other than money. In fact, anything that promises fast results for very little effort is likely to be a fad and, at the end of the day, there’s just one golden rule to dieting...
The Golden Rule
Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable – this may come as a bit of a shock to the system. The Golden Rule to Dieting is Don’t Diet. Yes, you read it right! You see, when we commit to a “diet”, we tend to see as a temporary period of self-restraint during which we suffer as a result of the sacrifices we’re making. The problem with this attitude is that, as soon as we’ve achieved our target weight (or near enough), we tend to fall back into our old unhealthy habits and quickly pile the weight back on again.
No diet in the world can help you lose weight unless you permanently change your attitude to food, your eating habits and how your exercise. Many of us couldn’t take our eyes off the screen during a season of The Biggest Loser and were inspired by these brave people and their intensive efforts to transform themselves. Sadly, this kind of intensive exercise and diet regime can only last so long and many of the contestants and even some of the winners have piled on the pounds since you last saw them.
The more rapid the weight loss, the more likely it is that you’ll experience a similar rapidly weight gan soon afterward. Of course, if you need to lose weight quickly so you can model your new bikini during your trip to the Caribbean, then, by all means, go for something like the Cabbage Soup Diet, but if you want sustainable, long-term, healthy results, stay away from quick-fix solutions like these.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular diets of the moment, what they claim to achieve, what the scientists say and what a more long-term and healthier solution might be.
Desperate Diets and their Downfalls
1. Detox Teas
Jameela Jami of The Good Place fame recently made the headlines after lashing out at celebrities endorsing laxative detox teas, accusing stars like Cardi B and Iggy Azalea of having plastic surgery to improve their figures, while claiming the results are due to miracle diets.
The theory behind the detox tea diet is that the herbal ingredients will help your body rid itself of toxins, thereby improving “clearing the way for good nutrient absorption” while boosting your metabolic function and increasing your body’s ability to burn fat.
Most detox teas contain a combination of dandelion, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, ginger, and milk thistle. While all these herbs have useful properties, many relating to the liver function, there is little evidence to suggest they can help you lose weight. Some detox teas contain a natural laxative called senna, which can cause certain side effects, including cramps and diarrhea.
Dietitians and nutritionists don’t have much time for detox teas, saying the best you can expect from this approach to dieting is losing a lot of money. Those with senna in them could prove even more damaging, resulting in frequent visits to the bathroom and a certain amount of discomfort.
According to a dietitian from New York’s Brown & Medina Nutrition Center, Adean Neglia, the whole concept of detox is faintly ridiculous as your body already has a perfectly good system detox in place, in the form of your liver and kidneys.
Neglia says the detox tea diet is not only pointless, but also dangerous, saying “The majority of the weight you lose is body fluid so not only do you risk becoming dehydrated but, once you go back to eating normally, the weight you lost is quickly regained”.
The Golden Rule Alternative
By all means, incorporate a herbal tea into your diet – green tea, for example, is packed with antioxidants and is great for digestion so, if you are changing your eating habits quite drastically, it can help support your system through the adjustment.
A better way to embark on a healthier diet is to simply take away one unhealthy component, like soda, and substitute it for a more healthy option, like green tea, for example. This tiny step towards a better diet can, according to the Diabetes Council, help you lost as much as 20 pounds in six months. Given that sustainable weight loss is between one to two pounds a week, this is a great start.
You can take it to the next level by committing to a flexible weight-loss plan like the one Weight Watchers provide. With a convenient points system that helps you keep track of your daily calorie intake and a digital app that will track your progress on the go, Weight Watchers can be easily slotted into your life and pay dividends in terms of your health.
2. The Baby Food Diet
The diet itself is pretty self-explanatory – instead of eating normal adult meals, you silence your hunger pangs with 14 jars of baby food a day. It certainly takes a lot of the hassle of meal planning… and chewing, for that matter. Each jar contains lots of fruit and vegetables and arrives pre-portioned so it’s easy to control your calorie intake without having to do any counting whatsoever.
As baby food tends to be low in both fat and sugar, there is some truth behind the notion that this can help you lose weight. With each jar of baby food containing between 20 and 90 calories, to substitute two meals a day with baby food will see you consuming over 10 jars of goo a day.
Among those who have been rumored to try the baby food diet, Jennifer Aniston has been one of the most outspoken, telling a UK newspaper, “I wanted something where you can eliminate toxicity and break bad habits but still have your digestive system going. That is when the baby food cleanse was born”. Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga and Reese Witherspoon are all reported to have tried this pureed path to perfection.
Not only is baby food pretty unpalatable, especially for the more sophisticated adult palate, it also contains a lot less fat, fiber and protein than a healthy adult needs in a day. Not only that, it is nearly impossible to achieve the recommended nutritional intake required when eating pureed vegetables and fruits for most of the day.
There are several downsides to the baby food diet, including feeling weak or light-headed as a result of not getting enough nutrition; having a very unpleasant eating experience for the duration of the diet; returning to a normal diet that maintains your optimum weight may be very difficult.
Although the baby food diet isn’t altogether bad, it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. According to New York psychiatrist, Marianne Gillow, “The biggest problem with a lot of fad diets is that it doesn’t teach you how to make peace with food in the real world.”
The Golden Rule Alternative
If you want to try and increase your intake of fruit or vegetables, make a few conscious decisions about how to do this. For example, instead of grabbing a chocolate bar for a mid-morning snack, make sure you have fresh fruit, like apples or oranges, to hand to curb those hunger pangs with a healthy alternative.
Similarly, you can start introduces vegetables and vegetarian meals to your diet. If you’re not sure how to go about this, take a look at some of the recipes available on Diet.com. With a host of healthy recipes available and a search feature that allows you to select your preferred cuisine type and specified calorie content, Diet.com can inspire you to start cooking up some nourishing nosh.
Alternatively, you could opt for a meal delivery service, like The South Beach Diet, that will bring you healthy, pre-portioned meals and help you explore new eating habits without the stress of shopping and planning. Get nutritious, calorie-controlled meals delivered to your door.
3. The Macrobiotic Diet
Every Material Girl has heard of the macrobiotic diet made famous by Madonna, but not all of us are quite up to the challenge. Putting the emphasis on natural, whole-grain foods that are locally and organically produced, the macrobiotic is the most sensible of those we’ve discussed so far but possibly the hardest to stick to.
Combined with elements of Buddhist beliefs, the macrobiotic diet limits the intake of animal products and eliminates all processed foods, focusing on whole cereal grains, vegetables, and beans. Sounds pretty good so far, except that over half of your diet would have to be comprised of things like barley, buckwheat, oats, and rye, which doesn’t sound particularly appealing.
Apparently, Gwyneth Paltrow’s tried this one too, although the most famous proponent of the macrobiotic approach to weight loss is undoubtedly Madonna. She’s not the only one to have reportedly reaped the benefits of this diet, however, with John Travolta, Alicia Silverstone and Tom Cruise all rumored to have tried it.
While you’re more likely to lose weight on this diet than on the detox tea option, the limited foods available make it difficult to maintain and may even result in certain nutritional deficiencies. In fact, this might be the most dangerous diet we’ve discussed. One of the earliest versions of the macrobiotic diet consisted of just water and brown rice, which would result in multiple problems as a result of not provided essential minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.
For example, with animal products so severely limited in the macrobiotic diet, people committing to this weight-loss plan are getting very little vitamin D in their diets. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium which keeps our bones strong and is vital for the correct function of the neuromuscular and immune systems that keep our bodies functioning effectively.
The Golden Rule Alternative
If getting a body like Madonna’s is your aim, rather than exposing yourself to potential nutrient deficiency, why not try cutting down on the amount of red meat you eat and replace with another, healthier form of protein, like chicken or fish?
In addition to changing what you eat, you can also lose weight quickly and build muscle following one of Jillian Michaels’ plans. Not only will Jillian give you some excellent workout tips and fitness plans to follow, but she also has a range of menu plans available, from omnivore to vegan and everything in between. The Jillian Michaels’ app also gives you access to useful diet tools, like shopping lists and dining out tips.
For any diet to be a success, in the long run, it requires a fundamental shift in your relationship with food and making drastic changes, like adopting a macrobiotic diet, can set you up for failure. Making smaller adjustments to your lifestyle that are well-thought-out are much more likely to help you achieve your target weight than throwing yourself in at the deep end of dieting.
A 2016 study published in Obesity magazine revealed that people who changed their relationship with food through behavioral therapy lost were more likely to lose weight than those who adopted more conventional approaches.
Acceptance-based behavioral therapy focuses on each individual’s personal values and encourages people to adopt a healthier way of living for long-term goals, such as living long enough to see your grandchildren graduate from high school.
This new approach to weight loss is designed to help people recognize the difficulties inherent in losing weight while introducing mindfulness training to help you learn new habits that will help you lead a healthier lifestyle. The weight loss is incidental to a more holistic approach to health. The longer you practice your new habits, the more they will become routine, making it easy to say no to chocolate cake and opt for an apple instead.
The Golden Rule of Dieting is not to diet but to change how you think about food and gradually alter your lifestyle for a more holistically healthy approach. The best weight loss programs, like Weight Watchers and Jillian Michaels, are steady, realistic and maintainable. They’ll help you lose weight, look great, and feel good throughout the process.