How Fad Diets Hurt People’s Relationships With Food

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Fad diets make extraordinary promises to participants. They promise rapid weight loss through eating plans that are typically unbalanced and hard to follow. Fad diets ultimately create unsustainable eating patterns.

Over time, fad diets can also be damaging to people’s relationships with food. In other words, they don’t work well and can lead to more problems than they attempt to solve. Fad diets undermine the idea of a balanced eating plan and exercise routine and can harm a person’s overall health.

Fad Diets Encourage an Obsessive Focus on Food

Many fad diets lead people to focus obsessively on food. Extreme eating plans tend to require a dietary transformation. From the grapefruit diet to the cabbage soup plan, fad diets are largely inflexible, and participants have to take extraordinary measures to ensure they’re eating throughout the day according to the plan.

Additionally, when eating grapefruit for days on end, a person is likely to start longing for the foods they miss, and they might begin to think obsessively about their food cravings. If a person is focused on excluding foods, they might begin to develop an unbalanced perspective on food. This could lead to a negative relationship with food.

Fad Diets Create Stress

Fad diets are unsustainable, both physically and emotionally. Forcing yourself to adhere to strict dietary rules, like eating no solid foods for three days or working cabbage into every meal, can create unnecessary stress. When a person begins to stray from the plan, they might also experience guilt for replacing their ninth bowl of cabbage soup with a double cheeseburger.

When stress is involved with each meal and snack, it can lead to repeated negative eating experiences. Associating feelings like guilt and stress with food can negatively impact a person’s eating patterns.1 As these negative experiences pile up, a person’s relationship with food suffers.

Diets that create stress don’t have much hope of working in any case, so the stress and damage to a person’s relationship with food don’t even lead to positive results overall.

Fad Diets Can Damage Your Health

By eliminating entire categories of food or severely restricting how and when you eat, fad diets can cause or worsen many medical conditions. The health risks of fad diets include a higher likelihood of developing osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Some of the more severe fad diets can negatively impact your energy levels if you aren’t consuming enough calories to fuel your activities, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish no matter how much sleep you get.

Getting off the Fad Diet Roller Coaster

Avoiding fad diets will help to prevent you from compromising your well-being or creating an unsustainable eating pattern.2 Rather than excluding the majority of the wide variety of foods available, open yourself up to all the other options available to you. Allowing yourself to have options can lead to a positive relationship with food that isn’t hyper-focused on rules and restrictions.