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The Werewolf diet, the Blood Type diet, the Five Bite diet, the HCG diet (this one’s a doozy), Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) diet (yeah, it has its own acronym), the Baby Food diet, Activated Charcoal drinks (we’re drinking charcoal now?). The list goes on…

Odds are, if you can eat it (or even if you can’t – a la charcoal), it’s been made into some sort of fad diet. And when I say “it’s been made” I mean someone was crazy enough to try it out, and then even stick to it, and they lost weight. 

No shit, Sherlock! Turns out chugging charcoal – the kind they make people drink when they overdose or are poisoned – is a sure way to lose your appetite, and everything in your stomach.

They Work(ish)

The first issue (of many) with fad diets that makes them so damn appealing – they’ve worked! Albeit, maybe just for one person, but that one person is now so fanatic about it they’re spreading the word faster than a neighborhood full of Bible salesmen.

Fad diets may even STILL work for the extremists who are dedicated enough to their fad results, but what kind of life does that mean living? Eating only five bites of two daily meals? Or having to know what phase the moon is in to determine what you should eat for dinner? Ain’t nobody got time for all that!!

Not to mention the amount of discipline it takes to only eat disgusting, blended up baby food when there’s a perfectly cooked medium steak with cheesecake for dessert staring you in the face. I know which one I’m choosing nine times out of ten… let’s be real, ten times out of ten.

So fad diets work(ish) until they don’t. Until you’re tired of ACV shots (gross!) or your willpower to restrict yourself to 500 calories per day gives out and you eat everything in site (even the tasteless baby food). And no one talks about fad diets as a lifelong thing – they’re fads because they come and go. There aren’t any studies on the health benefits of drinking charcoal for 45 years.. assuming charcoal keeps you alive that long.

At What Expense?

If it isn’t blatantly obvious to you yet, fad diets can have extreme and even detrimental health consequences. My quip above about charcoal keeping you alive that long is only half sarcasm. The extreme restriction of many fad diets can wreak havoc on your health in a few major ways. 

First, you aren’t getting all the nutrients you need. Thinking your body can thrive on 500 calories a day “because our ancestors did it” is terrible logic. Our ancestors food supply was inconsistent at best so they didn’t have a choice. Plus, cutting out entire food groups or types or, worse, restricting yourself to one group or type of food leaves your body malnourished. And when we’re malnourished, we crave the things our body needs – as if we don’t have enough cravings already.

Equally as important to what you’re doing to your body physically is what you’re doing to your psyche. The stress of sticking to a fad diet is WAAYYYY too much.. again, ain’t nobody got time for all that! Nobody’s “this tall” for the emotional roller coaster of a fad diet. When the only thing on your mind is food and why you can’t eat it, every other area of your life will suffer – relationships, finances, work, etc. When “our ancestors did it” they didn’t have all the other stuff of life we have to deal with, their entire existence was providing basic human needs. 

That Damn D-Word Again

The word diet keeps rearing its ugly head, and will continue to do so for as long as we are vain, aka for eternity. That’s another issue (again, of many) with fad diets – they don’t last. As the name implies, it will come and go, just like platform shoes and bell bottom jeans.

Depriving your body of anything for too long usually ends up backfiring anyway. When denying yourself something you continue to crave, you have a finite amount of willpower and when it runs out, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT let anything get in between you and the refrigerator. All those denials build up like a geyser and no dessert or carby indulgence is off limits for Old Faithful.

You might think you’re stronger than those cravings or you’ve got better discipline, and I bet you do. Until you don’t. It’s the case with me and with every other human. While willpower and discipline can be trained and built up like a muscle, it also fatigues like a muscle would and that’s when the geyser blows. It literally uses physical energy in the brain to resist a craving over and over. So when your energy gets low and you’re exhausted from the other 5,000 decisions that day, you say screw it. 

Lifestyle > Diet

To really create a lasting change in your health or appearance, it needs to changes in your lifestyle. No ‘diet’ will get you to your end goal and keep you there. We eat every day (if we’re lucky) so there isn’t an end to our goals. Sure, we may have a weight we’d like to maintain or a health marker to reach, but eating is an ongoing thing. It only stands to reason that the way you eat must also be an ongoing thing (lifestyle) as well.

If you wound up with a New Year’s Resolution that had the word ‘diet’ in it, there’s still time to change it. Luckily for us, resolutions aren’t set in stone and neither are we. We get to choose every day (again, if we’re lucky) how we want to eat and live. And if a healthier lifestyle is your ongoing goal, you’re in the right place!