The deal with dieting

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Annie George

Being healthy isn’t something that should be temporary. It’s a lifestyle, and requires consistency over time.

We’ve all heard it before: get enough sleep, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, eat healthy foods. For some of us, this is easy. But for most of us, including myself, healthy living is more of a want to be aesthetic than a reality. Though, within the past five years, researchers found a range of weight loss techniques all promising the same slim-quick, spring break ready results. It almost sounds too good to be true.

And trust me, it is.

According to Cleveland Clinic, fad diets are diets geared to help a person lose weight at a faster rate, often cutting out valuable food groups and nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates. These popular diets typically revolve around one food group that a person will consume during each meal. Sure, fad diets are appealing. They promise weight loss in a short amount of time and can show physical results for some. But again, they’re fads and are designed to be temporary.

Studies from the Weight Loss & Diet Control Market noted that weight loss is a $66 billion industry and one of the most advertised in the country. We are constantly surrounded by advertisements claiming “this one really works,” allowing ourselves to fall into their organic, kombucha-loving trap. Ads are grabbing the attention of people who don’t even need to go on a diet. Starting at 8-years-old, according to the American Council on Health and Science, children are beginning to restrict their food intake, and by 15-years-old, one in three has been on a diet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in healthy living. I love going on a hike on a nice sunny day and genuinely enjoy a salad. But if you were to ask 8-year-old me to choose between a juice cleanse or cookie, I would choose the cookie— not just because it’s the much more delicious option, but because my brain wasn’t worried about my food intake, unlike children growing up today. Childhood is all about running after the ice cream truck and looking forward to dessert, not about tracking the number on the scale. As once a second grader myself, I can attest that counting calories was the least of my 8-year-old concerns.

Regardless of age, there shouldn’t be a worry over what you eat. It’s all about balance. Research from the World Health Organization found that fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and foods from animals are all necessary for a healthy diet. Fad diets typically eliminate nutrients that your body requires to function properly. For example:

Juice cleanses: A juice cleanse is a type of diet consisting of only consuming juices from fruits and vegetables in order to “detoxify” your body, typically lasting for a few days to a week. In other words, it’s a way of liquifying your fruits and vegetables into a substance that’s supposed to be just as filling and nutritious as eating a regular meal. Beets and carrots to form a juice is barely food and is also not a substantial source of fuel. Studies done by Harvard Medical School showed that juice cleanses restrict the body from consuming essential macromolecules, possibly causing diarrhea, fatigue and irritability. They can also be financial burden, costing anywhere between $50-400. Plus, your body is already naturally equipped with its very own detoxifying machines: your kidneys and liver. These organs can filter the blood, expel toxins and cleanse the body continuously without requiring you to squeeze out a celery stick. Why force yourself to detox when your body does it on its own?

Paleo Diet: The goal of a paleo diet is supposed to simulate how our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era, dating back 2.5 million years ago. The diet restricts foods produced through agriculture, including dairy, grains and legumes. This limits your diet to only meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts. We all know that carbs can be the enemy when battling weight loss, but forgetting them all together can be detrimental to your health. Studies from Providence Health and Services showed that carbohydrates should make up 55-60% of a healthy diet. Research from Mayo Clinic also proved that depriving yourself from dairy can cause bone and muscle weakness due to the lack of calcium and proteins being consumed. Restricting yourself from beans and bread is one thing, but restricting yourself from pasta or ice cream is an unnecessary evil.

Vegan Diet: Going on a vegan diet can be for health, environmental or ethical reasons. It excludes any food item that comes from an animal, including, meat, dairy, eggs and fish. Switching to this diet for the sake of losing weight fast can deprive the body from critical minerals. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, depletion of nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and iron can affect bone strength and energy. So enjoy steaming your cabbage— I’m sure it’s lovely. In the mean time, pass the steak, please.

Being healthy isn’t something that should be temporary. It’s a lifestyle, and requires consistency over time. Participating in a fad diet is just another excuse for taking the easy way out and can lead to unhealthy eating habits. So go ahead and meal prep for “meatless Monday.” You’ll find me ordering take-out.