Fad diets compromise health

The Atkins, Paleo and South Beach diets, to name a few, are diet fads that have run through our society at unfathomable speeds. They each have guidelines by which the dieter must abide, and to stray from the rules is to jump into the deep abyss of guilt and self-loathing.

These diets create a plan that is meant to serve as a temporary fix to a persistent problem. They lure in individuals with promises of quick results and solid weight loss backed by “groundbreaking” nutritional research. But in reality, these promises do not always deliver.

A short-term diet isn’t a long-term solution. Diets are restrictive and temporary. They are formulated only to last a specific set of days and achieve the goal of weight loss. But the price paid may not be worth the outcome.

Many of us have struggled with our weight or our self-image. Diets, in our definition, are restrictive regimens, for a period of time, to do something about this problem.

However, when individuals have to restrict food items that may be beneficial for them, such as fats (healthy fats are needed for survival because they construct the plasma membrane and the mitochondrial electron transport chain), their bodies respond by slowing metabolism as a means to fight the “starvation” and stress it is undertaking.

In some cases, the diet is so restrictive that the dieter begins to suffer from malnutrition and eating disorders. In addition, the pounds lost are mainly from lean muscle mass because of its calorie burning capabilities, and the body sees it as a detriment in time of need. Pounds are ready to pounce back on. When the diet ends, they add on more weight.

There is no reason individuals should suffer through diets that can harm their bodies. A diet should be a lifestyle plan. Nutrition is a gradual long-term commitment that removes processed carbs, trans fats and refined sugars, and replaces the empty calories with nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, lean meats, beans and other forms of protein, coupled with exercise, adequate sleep and sweets in scarcity.

It takes 21 days to break a habit and retrain taste buds. Eventually, your body will crave the nutrients it needs, and the once-silent health-conscious voice inside you will talk you into a lifetime approach to healthy, happy living.


Faizah Shareef is a freshman majoring in biochemistry and nutrition.