I’ve been thinking about fad diets lately— from the ridiculous to the more ridiculous. Do they gain popularity because they work? Fat chance. (Pun intended!) Or do we know their names because the outlandish astounds us? I’d like to think it’s the latter, to preserve my faith in…well, common sense and reasonableness. Here’s my take…
It Isn’t Food
Just a few months ago we were reading about the “Feeding Tube Diet”— have you heard about this one? Well if you hadn’t, the name says it all. You’re all caught up. (It’s “technical” name is the K-E Diet, short for Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition.) To quote Time magazine, it is “the same kind of feeding tube that doctors use in the hospital to nourish psychiatric patients who refuse to eat or those with physical conditions that prevent them from eating normally” (like coma and stroke patients, for example). Tube feeding in these unfortunate situations is a medical necessity. But perfectly healthy people, up and about? I have to raise a skeptical eyebrow.
Let’s put aside the “ick” factor (imagine sitting on the bus next to a woman with a tube dripping “food solution” down her throat, with a bag of said solution in her purse. I’m sorry…but ick.), let’s pretend it’s not gross and just think about the abuse the body is going through. This form of nutrient intake doesn’t meet the extent of the body’s needs and therefore it goes into a state of ketosis— burning fat instead of carbs— otherwise known as the first stages of starvation. Not necessarily a bad thing short term, in fact our bodies often go into ketosis while we sleep at night. But it only lasts a few hours, then we wake up and eat breakfast. Ketosis 10 days at a time? That really puts stress on the liver and kidneys. Coming back from this state is a battle for your body and might even leave you horribly constipated from the lack of texture and fiber in your diet. (It is recommended that women get 25 grams of fiber daily, and men get 38 grams.) Other distress signals your body would send? Dizziness, dehydration, headache, and kidney stones.
Restrictions on the Restricted?
Something else kinda fishy to me about the whole thing? The “rules” state that it is very important to drink only water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. No juice. No milk. No lemon in your water. At least one of the three, coffee, is highly acidic and puts your liver through the ringer during digestion, on a normal day. Imagine the hazard when your liver is already under distress from lack of proper nutrition, then you increase the workload exponentially.
Sure, you’ll read that women have seen immediate results and fit into their wedding gowns just in the knick of time! But check back on these women a few weeks later and chances are, they’ve gained back every pound. This method of weight loss involves no behavior or lifestyle change, it’s simply a duct-tape solution. Like putting Fix-A-Flat in your tire…it’ll get you to the tire shop, but go much further and you’ll be right back where you started— stranded with a flat tire. Weight loss isn’t about depriving yourself— especially depriving yourself of REAL food! In fact, it’s kind of the exact opposite! It’s about learning how your body processes and metabolizes the foods you eat, and what makes the best fuel for your body. Eat up! …but eat the right foods. (ahem— fruits, veggies, lean proteins…you know the usual suspects)
In a day and age when ‘instant’ is the standard, things that aren’t instant are becoming ostracized ideas. Sometimes cultural impatience goes too far and, in my opinion, this is one of those instances. Our bodies are natural marvels—give it the right fuel and watch what it can do! Fight off foreign threats (germs and bacteria), sort, stack, and utilize nutrients as needed, even send warning signals when something is wrong before you even know anything is amiss! If you need to lose weight and are having trouble, there is probably an underlying reason. But trust me, starvation is not the way to solving that puzzle. It could even make things worse.