Why Exactly Fad Diets Are So Dangerous

No quick fix will ever replace a healthy lifestyle, and any diet that promises otherwise is a bad idea.
August 7, 2017
8 mins read

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Most of us have heard that catchy phrase our entire lives. The basis of it is correct: Eating a healthy diet with nutritious foods will significantly decrease anyone’s risk of sickness and health problems. In fact, keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle does way more than just control weight and keep you physically healthy; it also has mental benefits like improved mood and boosted energy. With all of these benefits, it seems like eating a healthy diet is the best way to feel 100 percent.

Unfortunately, many people are a little unclear about what healthy eating actually means. Most people know to stay away from overeating, fast food and other foods high in calories and fats. However, when finding a diet that works best for one’s body and lifestyle, many choose incorrectly. There are diet fads out there that promise extreme results fast. Getting to a healthy lifestyle can be a long process, so many people resort to these fads in hopes that they have found the quick fix, even if they seem ridiculous. Unfortunately, many of these diet fads lack the nutrition people need to keep their bodies healthy and functioning. In some cases, they do a lot more harm than good.

American society and culture in particular is very at risk to these misleading diet fads. Just as fast food and weight problems are a real issue, so are “quick” and unhealthy fixes for weight loss. America is one of the most overweight countries in the world. Unhealthy foods are more readily available and cheaper than the healthier alternatives, so when a diet promises fast and cheap results, many Americans jump at the chance. However, without proper research, you won’t know what you are putting into your body. Changing your diet and lifestyle to live a healthier life is an important chance for a better overall quality of life. However, this change is never easy, and any diet that promises so should be approached with a skeptical eye.

Another reason for the popularity of dangerous and misleading diet fads is who we see attempting them. Pressure in Hollywood to stay thin leads many celebrities to attempt some of these diets in the public eye. We see people that we look up to and admire trying these fads, and feel the need to try them out ourselves. However, we often only see the glamorous sides of both these celebrities and their trials with diet fads, and are left in the dark on the negative effects. Without a fair presentation of such diets, we feel they are a healthy and acceptable lifestyle choice, and experiment with them ourselves.

Social media also plays a huge role in the popularity of such fads. Sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter allow for an unfiltered display of information. Pretty much anything can be posted and seen, and there is no requirement for scientific facts to back up what is being advertised. Young people are the biggest users of social media, and also the most impressionable age group. These diets can be twice as dangerous to someone at an influential age, and if left unchanged, could lead to lifelong unhealthy habits and even eating disorders.

Image via Instagram

A type of diet that can be dangerous is one where the dieter only eats one type of food. To live a healthy life, your body needs a variety of foods and nutrients. A diet that only allows one type of food, neglects other important parts of a balanced diet. An example of this type of diet takes “an apple a day” to the extreme in the all-fruit diet. Fruit is very good for you, and many people enjoy it as nature’s treat.

However, while fruit has health benefits, it does not contain everything that your body needs to fully function. An all-fruit diet excludes important nutrients such as protein and fats. Also, while the sugar in fruit is natural, eating nothing but it can overload the pancreas, whose job it is to release the insulin that controls the sugar we put into our bodies. This diet moved to mainstream culture’s attention as various celebrities have experimented with it; Ashton Kutcher tried it, and put himself in the hospital. Instead of going for nothing but fruit, try for the recommended serving of one to two cups a day, and add some variety to your diet through other types of healthy foods.

Another type of diet that can be dangerous is a fast-result, limited intake type of plan. For people looking for a quick fix, these offer results in as little as twenty-four hours. However, to lose weight in that amount of time calls for extreme measures. Also, any weight lost that quickly is not likely to be kept off.

An example of such a diet is the Hollywood 24 Hour Miracle Diet, which promises a loss of up to five pounds in as little as twenty-four hours. However, this diet does not approach weight loss in a healthy or sustainable way. This diet consists of juice blends, that are less than one hundred calories per serving. The average plan has the dieter taking in around four hundred calories per day, not nearly enough to sustain a body or give it energy. Participants experience fatigue, headaches, dizziness and anxiety. Instead of such an extreme plan, people looking to lose weight should make a long term plan, and limit their calorie intake in a healthy way over an extended period of time.

Overeating and obesity may seem like the biggest health concern, but dangerous dieting and neglecting one’s needs can often be just as dangerous. It is important to find a middle ground, and pay attention to how you are feeling when trying to find a diet plan. Also, if you decide to take on a new diet, make sure you look up past experiences, and what the effects will be on your body. Healthy eating is very important, and 100 percent possible if you pick the right foods and the right plan so that your body can thrive versus simply get by.

Kelly Keglovits, UT Austin

Writer Profile

Kelly Keglovits

University of Texas
Plan II

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