Fad diets are always trending

No matter how much we declare to love our bodies at all sizes and all shapes, there are times when we look in the mirror and can’t help but notice a bulge or two that wasn’t there before the holidays. Suddenly, we find ourselves skipping breakfast and joining the spring rush at the gym, in order to look better in the skimpier clothing spring and summer demands we wear.

What is complicated is differentiating between crash diets and genuine, sustainable lifestyle changes. Generally, when people decide they want to lose weight (whether or not to conform to society’s beauty expectations), they also want to be healthier. We simply tend to go about it the wrong way.

Sonali Sadeqee, health coach and yoga teacher, said that a tragic mistake most people make is altering their habits too quickly, leading to the “rebound” effect many of us are familiar with.

“The busy life dynamics are always a pretty big obstacle to transform, but that’s the process. My job is to support my clients to make gradual changes that actually upgrade their entire lifestyle,” Sadeqee said.

Indeed, yo-yo dieting can lead to adverse effects both psychologically and physiologically. It’s easy to fall into the habit of wanting to lose great amounts of weight every few months, becoming demoralized by the challenge of sudden and significant life changes and then gaining the weight back.

Jessica D. Todd, the coordinated program director of nutrition at Georgia State and a registered dietician, said people face massive misinformation from the media and their peers.

“Media is a powerful source. There’s things on Facebook, Instagram, [with] these really good-looking fitness models, and they’re putting out their exercise regimen [and] what they’re eating, [and] a lot of the time it’s very restrictive,” Todd said.

Todd explained that these types of diets foster a cycle of restrictive eating and poor body image. She cited research on the consequences of putting stress on your body with inconsistent eating, like damaging your gut microbiome, an essential component to optimal immunity from toxins and for cognitive function.

“Not understanding the science behind nutrition metabolism and just jumping on a diet bandwagon [is a big mistake],” Todd said.

Something Sadeqee and Todd emphasized is the importance of finding healthful habits that work for you. Going plant-based, for example, typically represents a healthy lifestyle, but it’s not always necessary to cut out meat and fish in order to lose weight and reduce disease.

In the future, when you’re scrolling through Facebook and see one of those colorful photos with phrases like, “SUMMER CHALLENGE: No junk food, no alcohol, no dairy, and no eggs for that #sexyslimfigure!” accompanied by a lean, blonde woman, consider: is cutting out everything I enjoy in life sustainable? More than that, even if I manage to get that #sexyslimfigure, will I truly be happy without my nightly glass of Pinot Noir?