Six Tips for Spotting a Fad Diet
September 2006

“Six Tips for Spotting a Fad Diet,” Ensign, Sept. 2006, 72–73

Six Tips for Spotting a Fad Diet

Our Heavenly Father has given us the wonderful gift of a physical body, which is needed to progress and become like Him. With this gift we are given the responsibility to care for our bodies, and good nutrition is an important part of our responsibility.

As a registered dietitian, I am often asked my opinion of the latest diet. Some diets are based on solid nutrition and health principles, while others seem to defy basic biochemistry and promise quick, easy results.

Below are six tips to help you recognize a fad diet:

The diet claims a large or rapid weight loss. Sound nutrition plans aim for a weight loss of one to two pounds per week. Slow, gradual weight loss increases your success for keeping weight off in the long term.

The diet restricts or eliminates certain food groups or requires specific food combinations. Eliminating certain food groups may lead to deficiencies of some nutrients. Combining or sequencing certain foods does not enhance weight loss. Diets should raise concern if they emphasize certain foods, such as unlimited amounts of cabbage soup, grapefruit, or ice cream, or eliminate food groups, such as carbohydrate-rich foods.

The diet promotes “miracle” foods or makes promises that sound too good to be true. Foods don’t burn or melt fat away. No food can undo the long-term effects of overeating and underexercising. Testimonials, histories, and anecdotes that sound too good to be true probably are. Look for documented scientific research to support claims.

The diet implies that weight can be lost without exercise. An increase in any daily activity can help you burn more calories and lose weight. Activities such as walking or riding a bike are important in losing weight and maintaining weight loss.

The diet relies on rigid menus. Limiting food choices and adhering to strict eating schedules is unpleasant and unhealthy and may increase the likelihood that you will cheat, binge, or give up on the diet. You should be able to follow a diet plan for a lifetime.

The diet contradicts what most trusted health professionals and groups say. Look for a diet that emphasizes a variety of foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.

Before you begin following a diet, review the program for signs of a fad diet, study the opinions of trusted nutrition professionals, and compare the diet to the Word of Wisdom. We will be blessed as we follow the Lord’s counsel to care for our bodies.
Pauline Williams, Utah

Illustrations by Joe Flores