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Diet Myths

By: Annemarie Morrell, Winthrop University Nutrition Student


Diet culture has been around for many years. I'm sure all of us have seen many advertisements and products that sell you on the idea of having your dream body or having to put little effort into losing weight and being healthy. Diet culture is harmful because it's the belief that your appearance and your body shape is more important than your physical, psychological, and general well-being. It normalizes limiting and taking foods out of your diet that you enjoy. Today I wanted to go over some common diet myths and popular diet trends and look at the scientific evidence and statistics of why dieting doesn’t seem to work long term, and why it's important to look at changing your diet as a lifestyle change and not a quick fix.


Diet Myths

I'm sure many people have heard diet tips or tricks to losing weight fast. Some of these include

eating small meals that speed up your metabolism through the day, fasting for a day or two, claiming that carbs make you put on more weight, and slimming pills are safe for weight loss. Just to address some of these claims, carbs are needed for a balanced diet and they fuel your brain, second of all there is not enough scientific evidence on certain foods being able to speed up metabolism or that eating small amounts of food frequently through your day can boost it. There are also popular diets that claim fast weight loss such as the keto diet, intermittent fasting, vegan diet, etc. The keto diet is a diet that many people rave about, it might work for some people but the long term effects of the diet haven’t been fully looked into. There is little evidence to prove that the diet is effective or safe over a long period of time. It is a very restricted diet which also eliminates certain vitamins, minerals, and fibers that you usually would get from fresh fruits, legumes, and vegetables.


Research Behind Diet Culture

According to the CDC almost 50% of adults have tried to lose weight within the last 12 months. There's an estimated 45 million Americans who attempt to go on a diet each year and they can spend around 33 billion each year on weight loss targeted products. These weight loss targeted products can include weight loss supplements that can make elusive claims. It should be noted that dietary supplements do not require approval from the FDA. Also a lot of these supplement brands are not carrying out clinical trials and that's why there isn't a lot of scientific evidence to show that they're working. And the studies that have been done have limitations or not enough data supporting them to help in real world situations. Before looking into a weight loss supplement make sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian to see if there's a better option, and also check credible websites.


Bottom Line

For best weight loss results you want to make small healthy changes that eventually become lifestyle habits. It's easy to think about diets having short term fixes since a lot of them advertise themselves

that way, but creating a healthier diet of foods that you enjoy and like to cook with will help you stick with it long term. Also understanding that foods you enjoy are fine to eat in moderation and you can always add fruits and vegetables to meals to make them more filling and healthier. Remember it's not always about eating less it's also about increasing your exercise which can also help you mentally. Diet culture is still very prevalent in modern society and in media so it's good to keep an eye for triggering content and to know the science behind diet myths and the best way to go about losing weight if that's your goal. If you're still struggling with body image and unrealistic expectations you can always reach out to friends, family, or counseling for support.



References

Products - data briefs - number 313 - July 2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db313.htm. Published July 12, 2018. Accessed October 12, 2022.

Weight management. Boston Medical Center. https://www.bmc.org/nutrition-and-weight-management/weight-management. Accessed October 12, 2022.

What to know before you buy weight-loss supplements. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20046409. Published March 1, 2022. Accessed October 12, 2022.

The truth behind the most popular diet trends of the moment. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/the-truth-behind-the-most-popular-diet-trends-of-the-moment/art-20390062. Published March 3, 2021. Accessed October 13, 2022.



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