Fad diets are popular because they are like shiny new toys, they seem to offer immediate sparkling results, with celebrity followers. So they must be great, right? Er, no, so let’s look at the downside you will not see in the magazines …
If you look at definitions of the word ‘fad’ you will see that it means a trend that does not last. It has a huge rise in popularity, and sales disproportionate to the length of time in the market, and then it will fade away pretty much as quickly as it arrived. Now, if you take that description, and then apply it to diets, you have to wonder why a diet would suddenly appear, be massively popular and then disappear, and the only reason is that it did not work!
Let me back this up with a few fad diets – the maple syrup diet was one, the cabbage soup another, and the grapefruit diet … all Hollywood type diets requiring you to eat special foods. All of these had celebrity endorsements with well known personalities claiming the diet had worked for them in all of the magazines. They also always promise quick results.
Starvation Diets – BAD
The reason they provide quick results is because most of them are starvation diets. The maple syrup model basically involves surviving on water with a couple of things added in. Cabbage soup in itself is healthy food, but it hardly has any calories. That will see the drop off for sure, but you cannot safely keep to it for long, and it’s not healthy. That is why fad diets do not hang around long in the glare of publicity.
So why are fad diets so attractive? Three reasons.
First, we all want to believe that there is a miracle food plan out there that will cause us to lose fast without any effort. The truth is that losing is never easy and most people find that the faster we lose, the faster we gain it back the moment we slip off the diet.
Second, when we have tried to lose before and failed, it is easy to think that the advice we were given was wrong, and what we need is some new or different advice. So we ignore everything we know about healthy eating, because that didn’t work for us before, and jump on the latest new trend instead.
Third, the celebrity culture is partly to blame for the fad diet. We love to read about celebrities, especially if they are doing something new or weird. Let’s face it, it will not make headline news if you or I follow our doctor’s healthy eating advice and lose 1 lb per week for the next 6 months. It will sell more magazines if a top movie star has found a great new diet that means she has to eat some bizarre combination of foods and has lost 10 lb in one week!
So in summary, most of these plans are not viable long term. If there is one that follows basic healthy eating requirements, it is really just a variation on an established diet. Look for those if you like, but avoid fad diets.