Fad Diet Or A Healthy Approach To Food? Here’s How To Spot The Difference


Have you ever seen an ad for a diet program, and wondered if it might be beneficial? With so many different fad diets on the market, it’s not always easy to identify them. These questions can help you spot if it’s a balanced food program, or a fad diet in disguise.

Are you eliminating food groups without good reason?

Are you being told to cut out meat, gluten, dairy, ‘sugar’, fruit, nightshade vegetables, beans or even more? The first sign of a fad diet is the cutting of food groups with little to no reason. You might be told this is part of ‘detoxing’ or ‘cleansing’ your body.

A balanced approach might include a period of elimination, with the intent of identifying foods that are problematic. One example of this is a FODMAP plan for people with IBS symptoms. But there will always be a reintroduction of foods afterwards.

Are you counting calories, and aiming for a low daily intake?

Technically speaking, yes – f you consume fewer calories than you burn, you can lose weight. But it’s not as simple as calories in, calories out. Hormones, gut health, mindset, metabolism and more are variables that can affect this equation. So a fad diet that restricts you to 1500, 1200 or even 1000 calories is not going to help everyone lose weight.

A healthier approach is to find out where you sit naturally. How many calories can you eat in an average day and maintain your weight? Find that number, and aim for slightly lower.

I prefer to skip calorie-counting altogether, and rely on my body to let me know what I need in any one day. But this level of self-trust can take time to develop if you’ve been dieting for a while. So if you do want to count calories, remember: a greater deficit won’t always lead to greater weight loss in the long run.

Is the program short-term?

As I always say, diets die – they’re not meant to last forever, or even a decent length of time! You can have fads that go for 3-7 days, which are often ‘detoxes’ or ‘cleanses’. But you can also have programs that are several weeks long. If they don’t explain where to go once the program is over, that’s a red flag for a fad diet.

Sometimes a balanced food plan will start with an initial period where you focus on nutrient-dense wholefoods. But when that period ends, there is a re-introduction period where you learn how to incorporate what you’ve learned as a balanced lifestyle.

Is it run or designed by someone without nutrition qualifications?

I’m amazed at how many people are spruiking diets when they have no formal training in nutrition! You have chefs, health coaches and everyday mums that are telling you that their approach is the answer to everything.

Fad diet programs are often peppered with diet buzzwords like ‘cleanse’, ‘detox’, ‘superfoods’ and ‘toxins’. But the person who created it won’t be able to explain what these actually mean in scientific terms!

Do you want to know more? Book a free 15min chat with me here!

And remember: Health is not a size, it’s a feeling!

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