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Are you trying to lose weight? Are you following a food faddism or food theory? It is important to know the difference between the two - it will have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your diet, health and success trying to lose weight.

Food faddism is one of the most lucrative outcomes of our current worldwide obesity epidemic along with the increasing  consciousness by the public of the benefits of proper nutrition and diet, which thrived via the internet and other means of mass communication.  As I searched on Goggle the terms "weight loss plans" and "weight loss", I had approximately 119,000,000 and 391,000,000 yields respectively which gives us an idea of the amount of food fads, weight-loss control programs, diets and products being promoted via internet for the layperson seeking weight loss.  According to McBean (1), the increased receptiveness and consciousness of the public in regards to nutrition and health have provided an opportunity for food faddism to flourish.  Statements such as the curative power of foods, the hazard effects of certain foods that should be omitted from our diet, the therapeutic effectiveness of a diet with special combinations of ingredients and/or products are some of the claims we see associated with food fads.  Without strict regulations, food faddists can "work out of storefronts in the guise of weight loss centers" (5).  One of the considerations to be made is the danger of false promises of superior health which could include treatment of diseases that need medical attention, such as claims that certain foods or a combination of foods will help prevent or cure arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease (1).  Fad diets claim to achieve proper weight and body function through fat-restricted diets, carbohydrate-restricted diets, low-glycemic diets, and energy-restriction diets, among others (2) and these restrictions or addition of certain supplements should be evaluated professionally by a nutritionist and/or a health-care professional. Some of the statements on Becky's article we see daily as fad advertising, such as "eat whatever you want and still lose weight!" or "100% safe!"; however, they still attract laypeople and deceive the general population.

On the other hand, food theory aims on the physical and chemical aspects of foods. From a professional standpoint, a proper dietary approach for a healthy individual should be rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; restricted in animal fats and trans fats from processed foods; limited in refined starches and added sugar; providing protein principally from lean sources; and providing fat especially in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources (2), rather than restrictions or limitations of certain essential food groups and consequently a decrease in obtaining all necessary nutrients out of one's daily diet, as it is seen in most food faddism.  Whether a country is able to adapt to a special diet or a considered healthy diet, such as the US following the Mediterranean diet becomes a complex discussion which requires involvement of nutritionists, scientists, consumer organizations, public health and medical nutritionists, as well as private and governmental institutions.  It requires proper understanding of the biochemical and physiological aspects of human nutrition in both health and disease . Food theory will consider proper food preparation and practices needed in order to obtain for example proper vitamins and minerals out of the meals we prepare (3). These considerations are scientific based, rather than based on faddism.  Food theory has its roots on food-based dietary guidelines and is the tool of nutritionists and specialists working with you to achieve a dietary goal.

So you must think of your health first and the weight loss and other goals will come along for the ride. Be aware that there will be plenty of "experts" ready to sell you the "solution" for you to "easily" achieve your goal weight; however, the solution has been with you all along: a complete diet, free of processed foods might get you there for a lot cheaper and for good.  A healthy diet is a long term commitment while unsustainable food fad diet will cause you to bounce back and forth several times and never achieve your goal.

By Dr. Lidia Alzate, D.C.

References   (1) McBean, Lois D. et al. Food faddism: a challenge to nutritionists and dietitians. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 27: October 1974, pp. 1071-1078. Printed in USA. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/27/10/1071.full.pdf  (2) Katz, David L. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2nd Edition. (3) Ross, A. Catharine, Caballero, Benjamin, Cousins, Robert J., Tucker, Katherine, Ziegler, Thomas R. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th Edition. (4)Hand, Becky, Licensed & Registered Dietitian. 12 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet Identifying Weight Loss Scams. Sparkpeople   http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/articles_print.asp?id=395  (5) Neiman, Debra, RN, BSN. Food Faddism and Nutrition A Weight Control Dilemma. Prepared for Home Economics 2010. Louisiana State University. http://crystalblue.tripod.com/papers/foodfaddism-2.html


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