Sunday, 11 September 2011

Diet fads: Mind over platter.

The majority of us have at one point or another attempted some kind of diet, even if it lasted only a day or even a matter of hours. It would be very surprising to find somebody who has not at least considered a change in their diet for the purpose of weight loss alone.

For many of us it is a brief phase and eventually we return to our normal eating habits, yet for others it can spiral into a lifestyle of trying one new diet after the other. This cycle continues until the person finds a plan that works for the, but what if they never do?

Investigations into the matter are starting to show that these short-lived “fad diets” can have serious implications on our health. Recent research has shown that fad diets can lead to you having osteoporosis later on in life. One poll by Closer magazine has revealed that 30% of those questioned regularly avoided whole food groups such as dairy and carbohydrates.  Avoiding such foods is precisely what can lead to bone deficiencies like osteoporosis because the bones weaken due to lack of calcium. A spokesman for the National Osteoporosis Society says: ‘This latest research highlights the worrying implications that body image can have on bone health. Both calcium and fat play a role in building bone so fad diets that cut these out completely can be damaging.”

There are hundreds of different diets out there but the ones that have become popular in the last couple of years are, in particular, the baby food diet, the maple syrup diet and the Atkins diet. One source has followed both the baby food diet and maple syrup diet, as well as having tried less well known regimes such as only consuming foods with less than 250 calories but being able to eat and drink as much black coffee and pineapple as you want. This diet is said to make you lose half a stone in a week. The source tried the baby food diet after reading in a magazine that it was the new “Hollywood Craze”. “I thought it would help me lose a stone in two weeks.  I did lose 7Ibs but it left me with very little energy to go University and I almost fainted in work.  The weight loss certainly was not worth how ill it made me”.

Even though her fad dieting days are behind her she still says her relationship with food is unhealthy. “Even if I see something I really fancy for dinner in a shop I always check the calories no matter how much I want it. It’s a rare occasion when I but anything over 400 calories per serving”.

The female body survey commissioned by Grazia magazine (which questioned 5,000 women in over 200 cities across the United Kingdom) found that only 2% of women in the United Kingdom are happy with their bodies and seven out of ten think their life would be greatly improved if they had a better body. The research by Closer magazine, mentioned earlier, also revealed that almost a quarter of women only check the calorie content of food and ignore the other nutritional information. This would suggest that most women feel the calorie contentis the most important part of their food rather than the nutritional benefits which eating healthy food could have for them. This evidence suggests that a lot of us are putting calorie counting before our actual health. And even if we are eating healthy foods, are we eating them for the right reasons? And are the foods that we are eating even really healthy for us? It should not be assumed that something is nutritionally beneficial just because something is low in calories.

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