Fad Diets: What they are and how to avoid them in 2022!

This article was written by accredited dietician and nutritionist Millie Padula

Picture this, it’s the start of 2022 and you are in the midst of embarking into a new year where you aren’t holding onto any guilt from the festive season and have absolutely no desire to start a new diet “next Monday”. Wouldn’t that be freeing? News flash - this can be your reality. Being at a place in your life where you are able to acknowledge and appreciate the fact that eating the foods you love can be and should be a part of your lifestyle no matter what time of year is possible, and oh so-doable. Let me show you how!

We’ve all heard of ‘fad diets’; those pesky eating habits that encourage you to rid your diet (and life) of anything remotely enjoyable. Do beware, because ’tis the season for the marketing of fad diets as the media and food industry hustle to persuade you into believing that you ‘need’ to be a smaller, thinner version of yourself to be happy this year. Psssssst - you don’t! 

It’s exhausting, but it’s predictable; and I’m here to tell you that this new year, despite what the media says - you do not need to ‘cut’ anything from your diet, unless it is mouldy or you are allergic to it of course. 

Why? Because diet’s don’t work! 97% of them actually fail in the long-term because they are restrictive and unsustainable. Diets also damage our relationship with food and place us at risk of disordered eating. 

Not sure if it’s a diet in disguise? Here are some ‘red flags’ to look out for:

  • A food group is removed or restricted such as carbohydrates or fat. Common examples of this are the Keto diet, Atkins diet, Low Carb Diet and Low Fat Diet.
  • Results are promised that seem far too good to be true - e.g lose 10kg in 2 weeks.
  • Mention of calories are made. E.g 1200 calories or 1500 calories. Life is too short to count calories, count memories instead. 
  • Words such as detox, clean, banish, cleanse, fat-burner and cut are used.
  • Expensive supplements are recommended and promised to cause ‘miracle results’.
  • Lists are provided with foods to avoid. 

I know it can be tempting to jump on the latest dieting bandwagon, but do your body (and mind) a favour this year and ditch the diet. 

Here are my top tips on how to do so: 

  1. Limit your exposure to mainstream media and unfollow accounts on social media that encourage restrictive dietary patterns. 
  2. Familiarise yourself with the concepts of mindful and intuitive eating. Mindful eating in particular encourages you to listen to your body by tuning into your hunger and fullness signals and honouring your cravings accordingly. Working with a Dietitian can help you to master these practises. 
  3. Give yourself permission to enjoy all foods. When you allow yourself to eat the foods that you once considered ‘bad’, you will be surprised at just how quickly they lose their novelty and become just another food for you to include in your healthy balanced diet. 
  4. Stop worrying about what Sally down the road is eating. Sally is not you and you are not Sally (and I’m tipping Sally isn’t a qualified nutrition professional either). My point is - eat in a way that works for you!  
  5. A lower number on the scales does not equate to greater self worth. Stop basing your health and happiness on a number determined by gravity. Worry less about that and more about your energy levels, gut health, sleep quality, relationships, mental health and quality of life. That’s what is important!