Fad Diets – lifestyle choice or money spinner?

Fad Diets | Gather and Graze

There are a plethora of diet options out there when you start to look. Paleo, Macrobiotic, Zone and Raw… are just a handful of the current, trending diets that people seem to be signing up for these days.

They dictate what you can and can’t eat… depending on the whim of the mastermind behind the particular diet. It might be cutting out broad food groups like dairy and grains… or counting calories or grams… or perhaps even stipulating the percentages of carbs, protein and fat… or hey, why not refuse to cook above a certain temperature. Always something a little different to stand out from the rest.

Quite cleverly, they create a sense of belonging for their followers… with an ideology of sorts. To be purchased are books, DVD’s, seminars, subscriptions to multi-week/month plans, food delivered direct to your door…  not to mention the full-suite of social media avenues to follow them by. Of course there’s strength in numbers when a community has been formed. If lucky enough to have high-profile celebrity adherents, this will always add to the seduction and provide the public with confidence that this MUST be good for you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they’re ALL bad. In fact the saving grace for many of these fad diets is that a number of people are finally relinquishing much of the high-processed food on the supermarket shelves and buying fresh fruit, vegetables and quality meat. I’m sure many have lost weight in doing so and are feeling good about the way they feel and look. This is wonderful, but for the fact that they’re either shelving a number of food groups that provide nutrition in ways that other food groups can’t or that hey’ve turned the privilege and joy of eating into a numbers game, of rules and restrictions, that drains the very heart and soul out of what should be a delight for all five of our senses.

I recommend that you give thought to the long-term effects of what your body is being denied. There are potential repercussions from not getting enough of the right nutrients required for both immediate and long-term health. You may well be feeling energised and great right now, but how will your body be in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond? For example, for those who’ve totally removed dairy from their diets, are you getting enough calcium from other sources to give your bones and teeth the strength they’ll need later in life? Leafy greens contain calcium too, but be aware that the body doesn’t take up those nutrients as readily as it does from the likes of yoghurt or cheese.* Find here a list showing the Calcium Content of Foods to know whether you’re getting enough for your age group.

My concern with Fad Diets also extends to any children out there whose parents are subjecting them to these diets. They are being drawn into this due to YOUR choice, not their own.I really do hope that you’ve sat down and worked out what their bodies need, for the age that they’re at, as far as nutrition goes. I know it could be worse, you could be feeding them Fast Food and soft drink on a daily basis, but even so… this is someone else’s life that your impacting on… make sure that you know what you’re doing and that there won’t be repercussions for them later in life!

Everyone needs to make their own informed decisions, I just hope that you’re not being sucked in to the fad of the day! Your long-term health (and bank account) may ultimately pay for it.

Please note… I realise that this is a topic that some people will have strong opposing views on. Please respect my right to hold an opinion on this and I will respect yours. All I’m really asking is that people think long and hard before adapting and restricting their (and their children’s) diets in any significant way.

* Regarding Dairy… I certainly don’t believe that all dairy out there is healthy for you. Much of what we find on our supermarket shelves should be forcibly removed, due to the dubious nature of how it has been produced/processed and because of the high levels of sugar added.


20 thoughts on “Fad Diets – lifestyle choice or money spinner?

  1. Kitsch n flavours

    What really concerns me is the fact the food industry no longer have to list certain ingredients, as long as they’re derived from an organic source. For a lot of people, who might think they’re buying healthily, when they read that a product is made with all natural ingredients, how are they to know any different. I don’t, and I’ve been involved with studying catering, reading about nutrition, etc and developing recipes for most of my adult life. It doesn’t really surprise me that people grasp on to particular fads, especially when there seems to be benefits. If only they realised, that for a lot of people, all they need to do is drink more water (besides wolfing less processed food stuff). Hey, maybe I should start a new fad! Well said, btw. If only more bloggers were a tad more responsible…

    1. Margot @ Gather and Graze Post author

      The food industry certainly has a lot to answer for Johnny! They really are making it harder and harder for the consumer to determine what is good/bad. I try to buy as few items as possible from the supermarket that might require a list of ingredients to be printed on the back.
      You’re right, water needs to be promoted so much more than it is… I was astounded to read this fact page from the ‘Obesity Australia’ website about what drinks people should be having.
      So strangely and poorly written… “water is fine” – how about a bit of enthusiasm and encouragement about how healthy it is for our bodies to drink certain quantities of this each day. Then they go on to say that “fizzy drinks sweetened with aspartame are fine” – I almost fell off my chair reading this! Scary stuff!
      Thanks so much for your comment.

      1. Kitsch n flavours

        Yes, I read that link. Fine?! It’s absolutely essential. Particularly for those wishing to loose weight, as it helps to flush the body of toxins. And no mention that tea(excepting some fruit teas)/coffee/alcohol are diruetics. Nutritionists really do have a lot to answer for. If you think of all of the scare stories put out about red meat/butter and the like – all so bad for us. And people are stuffing their faces with salad bags washed in chlorine. Talking of which, apparently the tap water here (as in Kent) has a link to thyroid problems due to too much chlorine. Okay, I drink bottled. But I cook with tap water. Oh, and yeast extract! That should be avoided at all costs. Yet, practically everything savoury over her has it added. Including supposedly healthy vegetarian foods.

        1. Margot @ Gather and Graze Post author

          That’s interesting, I hadn’t realised that yeast extract had leeched into so much of the food on offer these days; and that it’s of such a dubious nature. I guess that means that Vegemite must be the king of all Yeast Extract Products… perhaps it should grace my pantry no more :o/

  2. Francesca

    Tough topic, Margot! I personally don’t believe in any of these diets. When I need to lose weight, I simply eat less and it has always worked fine for me. However, I’m not sure it would work for someone who needs to lose a lot of weight. Maybe a strict and detailed plan and the idea of belonging to a group can be really helpful for some people who have weight issues.
    As to the children, I think the key is healthy food! All kinds of food in small portions! Parents should not simply feed their children. They should teach them how and what to eat.

    1. Margot @ Gather and Graze Post author

      It is indeed a tough one Francesca! I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks now, wondering if I should publish it or not. I just have so many question marks hanging over these diets for various reasons and I’m intrigued to have a discussion and find out the opinions of others (even if they differ from my own). You speak very wisely about this topic – thank you so much for your input!

  3. danicelegon

    Hi Margot, I couldn’t agree with you more! I think much of the problem today is the way food is processed and the additives that are used. I believe, as you stated, that some of these diets work because people are suddenly eating “cleaner” food. But if people were to become avid label readers they could learn to make good choices without having to follow fads.

    I try to always buy foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Unfortunately, consumers are often at the mercy of large commercial chains, as are the farmers and growers.

    I guess we can only hope people open their eyes to the slow erosion of our food supplies and start demanding ‘pure’ over ‘convenience.’

    Regards, Dani

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Margot @ Gather and Graze Post author

      So lovely to see this comment from you today Dani. I hope you’re well!
      There really is so much good and amazing food out there, when you look in the right places… and learn how to cook from scratch with it.

  4. Darya

    Thank you for this post, Margot. I agree with you about everything, especially the part about children. Nothing beats common sense, knowing your body and what you feed it, and being attentive to the signals your body gives you when something is wrong (and know what to do in those cases). I understand people who make ethical food choices, like vegetarians or vegans, but I must admit I have more difficulty understanding these diets you mention, even if each has elements I agree with.

    1. Margot @ Gather and Graze Post author

      That’s so true Darya… there’s a lot to be said about being attuned to your own body and reacting when there are any signs that something is amiss. I also tend to compensate (almost without thinking) when I know I’ve been eating a few too many treats or food that is overly rich in various ways.
      I also agree that it’s hard to be completely at odds with some of these diets, when generally they are encouraging people to eat more unprocessed foods.
      Cheers, Margot

  5. apuginthekitchen

    Moderation is key, whole unprocessed foods (I still eat sugar) variety and balance are important. I actually followed South Beach sort of I didn’t get a book or pay for anything just researched the plan and came up with my own version. It really worked well and was well balanced. I think your post is thoughtful and speaks to the dangers of fad diets. Good work Margot.

    1. Margot @ Gather and Graze Post author

      A balanced diet, with moderation (erring on the side of restraint) makes a whole lot of sense to me Suzanne. I don’t believe it’s healthy to be so rigid in making rules of what we can and can’t eat… also fairly unsustainable in my opinion. Better to find ways of incorporating more unprocessed foods (like you mentioned) and cooking food from scratch… being aware of exactly what we’re consuming and knowing the quality of that food.
      Thanks so much for giving your thoughts on this subject.

  6. Aruna Panangipally

    What a sensible post and I am so with you on this one! And no one has quite studied the truly long term effect of many of these diets. Moderation, indeed, is the key. 🙂


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