FAD DIETS: WHAT IN THE HEALTH WERE YOU THINKING?

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Keto, Paleo, Atkins, 75 Hard, low-carb, no-carb, fat-free, carnivore diet, the South Beach diet, Nutrisystem: the list goes on and on and on. Unfortunately, these fads and many others have been around for a very long time. In fact, the first fad diet appeared in 1066 – William the Conqueror went on an all-liquid diet because he could no longer get on his horse due to how overweight he was, so he wanted to do something drastic to get back to his normal duties. Fun fact: after he died, the public learned the liquid was all alcohol. 

I hope you read that and thought to yourself, “You’ve got to be kidding me. How ridiculous. An all-liquid diet?” And yet here we are in 2023 still promoting “quick” “easy” “money-back guarantee” gimmicks. I must admit I have tried three of the diets and eating styles from the list I rattled off earlier, but I’ll divulge my experiences in later articles.

The purpose of this article is not to tell you to avoid a potentially dangerous fad; it is to educate you on the intricacies of human behavior and psychology in just a few hundred words. I do love a challenge.  

Adult humans were once children, and as children develop, they learn from their environment. If caretakers cook nutritious meals regularly, children learn what nutritious food tastes like and will likely grow up to cook similarly. The flip side of that is true as well. If a child is introduced to only sugary, high-fat fast foods or takeout, the child will grow up seeking out the same types of foods.  Okay, phew, human behavior covered in a nutshell.  

Now that we know what we see as children we are likely to repeat as adults, the same is true for what we hear. I’m going to set the scene for you and want you to figure out the outcome. 

Trudy is a 37-year-old mother of a 7-year-old daughter.  Trudy takes her daughter to go shopping and tries on a bunch of clothes while the daughter eagerly waits outside to see what her mother chose. Trudy rushes out of the dressing room in tears, saying over and over “I am so fat, I am so ugly, no one would ever want to see me in this, I am disgusting.” Year after year, the same shopping experience happens. How do you think the story ends? 

A. The daughter runs off with her mother, confused and sad, and later in life grows up with a similar self-image?

B. The daughter runs off with her mother, grows up and thinks negative self-talk is just “normal.”

C. Both A and B are correct.  

If you picked C, you are absolutely correct.  

So, now that you have had a crash course in child psychology and behavior, you can start to reflect on what you saw, heard and ate as a child and can now start drawing your own conclusions as to why you choose, think and say what you do today.  

If this is at all triggering, please reach out to a professional health care provider who can help you sort through your thoughts in a positive and healthy manner.  You can do hard things, but you don’t have to do them alone.  

Humans typically gravitate toward fad diets because somewhere along their path they didn’t learn how to eat balanced nutritious meals, or they don’t feel like they have the right tools to do so. The marketing for these fads is exceptionally good at preying on those who feel shame about the way they look and feel about themselves. So good, in fact, that in 2020 the health industry reached more than $70 billion in sales.  
The next time you feel like you want to lose weight, gain muscle, feel better, etc. instead of turning to a fad, turn inward, do your research and find someone to help you become your healthiest self without sacrificing it. You can reach me at [email protected]