It’s January, which means everyone’s on a diet. Your friends and colleagues are doing everything from drinking glass after glass what looks like cement but they claim is blended avocado and blueberries with a sprinkle of turmeric (sounds…awful) to going vegan or cutting out fruit and veg that ‘has too much sugar’ in it.
Celebs and famous chefs are bringing out new healthy eating books and products left, right and centre, while Instagram is full of people telling us to ‘teatox’ (that’s drink a type of herbal tea that’s essentially a laxative… When did giving yourself diarrhoea become cool?), cut out carbs, gluten and dairy, eat nothing but plants and pretend that coconut is bacon. Too much, too much.
The most sensible advice if you want to lose weight and keep it off is always going to be to eat less and move more, but if you find yourself getting tempted by any of the latest fads, experts at the British Dietetic Association (BDA) have handily published a list of the top five to avoid.
First up on the BDA’s list of diets to avoid was the raw vegan diet. A lot of people are currently cutting out all animal products from their diets for the Veganuary challenge, which is great, but raw vegan takes things to a slightly more extreme level.
This diet – that Gwyneth Paltrow apparently swears by – doesn’t let you eat anything cooked above 48 degrees, because its followers believe heating food too much removes its goodness (not true). Of course, not every food suitable for vegans can be eaten raw – like meat replacements and potatoes, for example – so this really limits what you can have.
We like our food cooked, and we can say now that lukewarm vegetable soup will not cut it. You’ll also need to take extra supplements if you follow this plan – or you could just not bother and eat nice hot food.
The alkaline diet is massively controversial and is all about balancing the body’s pH levels – something people have managed for centuries without any extra help.
Your body is not a clump of soil or a urine sample – you deserve better treatment than this and shouldn’t be cutting out whole food groups unless your doctor has advised you to.
Meal replacement shakes
There are all kinds of meal replacement shakes available, but the ones focused on by the BDA were from Katie Price’s Nutrition range. She has three kinds of shakes available: for hydration (what’s wrong with water all of a sudden), breakfast, and other meals, with flavours including chocolate, vanilla and raspberry.
Now, the only meal replacement we’re ever going to be on board with is Willy Wonka’s meal replacement gum, that tasted like tomato soup, roast beef and blueberry pie.
Of course, it all went a little wrong and poor Violet Beauregarde ended up becoming a giant blueberry, but with Katie Price’s meal replacements you could end up missing out on essential nutrients, and as soon as you go back to eating proper meals again, you’ll put any weight you’ve lost back on.
This diet is largely based on Mediterranean principles, which are known to be good for us. But a typical Mediterranean diet allows pasta and rice, while the Pioppi diet encourages cutting out all carbs and red meats, meaning your body will end up missing out on important food groups.
We have to agree with the BDA on this one when it said that substituting carbs like dough pizza bases with cauliflower was “ridiculous”. In our book, cauliflower is for accompanying a meal or covering in cheese sauce, not topping with pepperoni.
The ketogenic diet has apparently been followed by Kim Kardashian, but she’s also been known to endorse those ‘detox teas’ and meal replacement shakes, so we think that proves this one is definitely a fad.
Again, it involves cutting out pretty much all carbs – guys, your bodies need carbs! – relying on protein and high-fat foods like avocado instead. This might be ok for a short-term weight loss fix, but your body (and sanity) will soon be missing potatoes and pasta.
So, what is okay?
Sian Porter, a consultant dietician and BDA spokesperson, advised: “Make small changes you will be able to sustain forever and aim for an eating pattern for life – which should be the one you can stick to in the long term, not just a quick fix you will inevitably give up on.
“Enjoy a rich variety of foods in appropriate portion sizes – moderation and keeping physically active are key.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves – no, really, we couldn’t. We’re not dieticians, we’re just trying to spread some common sense.