10 signs of a bad diet

A report from Harvard released last month claims that by 2030 — in 10 short years — half of US adults will be obese. I’d say they’re about 10 years behind. Just go outside and look at the people around you. Half of US adults already appear to be obese.

But hope springs eternal. It’s January diet season again. People may start the new year with good intentions, but If everyone had been following through on resolutions about weight loss we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic.

One problem with dieting: bad diet choices. US News releases a ranking of “best diets” every year, and again for 2020, the usual suspects top the list: Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, Flexitarian diet. All of which are basically the same plant-based/low sugar/whole foods diet. If only people would take that advice and permanently switch to one of these sensible, healthful diets. But no, what gets everyone’s attention are the fad diets, plans that promise miraculous results with no effort, while eating whatever you want. Right.

So with that in mind, I’ve got a list of the signs of a Bad Diet. The sort of diet that leads to failure and is a waste of your time.

10 Signs of a Bad Diet

  1. After 2 weeks (or 4 weeks if you’re a dedicated true believer), you don’t weigh any less than when you started. If weight loss was your goal, this isn’t working.
  2. You’re starving all the time, and you’re starting to get cranky and hangry. This diet isn’t going to last long, no matter how much weight you may have lost so far.
  3. The plan requires you to purchase special diet supplements or magical shakes or bars. This is only beneficial to the business selling you this stuff.
  4. The diet plan prohibits entire categories of food: dairy or gluten or white foods or fruit or carbs or fats. You might appreciate the artificial restriction of food choices, but you learn nothing about making food choices in the real world.
  5. It’s a “cleanse” or a shake. Somehow this concoction cleanses your body of fat.
  6. You don’t have to exercise. False. Completely false.
  7. Cuts all fat out of your diet. Low fat diets are impossible to stick to for more than a few days.
  8. Claims to “rev up” your metabolism. Foods do not do that.
  9. Extremely low calorie, like 800 or fewer per day. That isn’t going to last long and you’ll regain significant weight when you finally give up.
  10. Promises impossible results in a short period of time: “Lose 10 pounds in a week! Lose 50 pounds in the first month!”

To be clear, a good weight loss plan emphasizes balance, moderate portions, minimal empty calories, plenty of vegetables, adequate protein, healthy fats and exercise. Which pretty much sums up a Mediterranean style diet.

The most important point might be this: a successful diet is one you can follow for life, not just for a few weeks. No one is every cured of overweight. Managing your weight is a lifelong project. Happily it gets easier. Success leads to more success. If you feel better and are healthier, you’ll be more motivated to stick with it.

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