Did that detox diet just detoxify you? What trendy diets CAN do for you

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What is the craziest diet you have ever done? When I was in high school, I remember being on the cookie diet where you ate medicinal cookies for breakfast, lunch and snack and then had supper on your own. It wasn’t pleasant and I don’t remember it working at the time either! Fast forward several years in the future, new fads and trendy diets continue to come and go.

Why do we get sucked into following trendy diets?

Because we have had some sort of lifestyle beacon – that things in our bodies are not the way we want them to be….Maybe we saw a picture of ourselves and felt surprised. Maybe we tried to put on our favourite pair of jeans. Maybe we could not keep up with our family on a recent outing.  We realize that the carefree lifestyle of our 20s and 30s has caught up with us. Now in our 40s and beyond, we realize that something needs to change.

Whatever it is, we have that moment that we want things to be different – and we want them to be different NOW! We are drawn to the allure of the diet’s claims about how great we are going to feel and how awesome we are going to look.

When people make a significant change to their diet, they often report feeling better….they feel more clear in their head, their skin glows, they feel less bloated, they feel like they have stepped off a roller coaster of uncontrollable eating.  What is it that makes you feel better?

Is there something magical about your detox diet?

Are the diet’s claims actually true? Or it is that you just hit rock bottom with your eating pattern and had nowhere else to go but up? When people make a hard break of poor diet and lifestyle habits by switching to a prescriptive diet, they have often done an initial hard break of habits that weren’t serving them well in the first place.

Suddenly people go from having limited awareness and thought of what they were eating, to paying attention to exactly what they are eating.

They start thinking ahead about what they are going to eat for their meals, they start grocery shopping with their new way of eating in mind.

They start preparing their foods and cutting out some of their other habits – alcohol, mid-afternoon snacking on highly processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, late-night mindless snacking. They make this wild pendulum swing from their previous lifestyle to this new way of living.

Did your detox diet actually detoxify you? Or, did you just start eating better quality, more healthful foods, less highly processed foods, and drinking more fluids? The detox sounds sexier, more magical and possibly describes how you feel inside, even though your liver and kidneys work each day to detoxify your body!

I am not a fan of trendy diets. They can set the follower up for yo-yoing back to their previous lifestyle habits, not to mention a poor relationship with food, and can result in a very unhealthful pattern of disordered eating.

You’ve likely heard many reasons why following trendy diets aren’t the best for your health. However, in taking a strength-based approach and starting where my clients are at, here is what I think trendy diets can do for people.


What trendy diets can do for people

  1. They help shed light on our automatic, unconscious ways of living, highlighting to people that how they currently eat and live isn’t moving them toward their goals.
  2. While they are overly simplistic and prescriptive, they can help make an initial hard break of some habits that are not serving them well.
  3. They can help people become interested in the food-body connection. Fad diets can help people make the connection that what and how they eat does impact how they feel.
  4. They can help people see how much better they can feel when they pay attention to what and how they eat.
  5. They may help people begin to learn about what foods and nutrients are missing in their diet. Vegetables? Fish? Water? Protein? Healthy fats? Fiber? Fruits?
  6. They can help people focus on choosing good quality foods (has any one diet said “eat more processed junk”?)
  7. They encourage pre-thinking about the foods available at home and in their environment, and setting people up for success.
  8. They help the follower start preparing their foods and cutting out some of their poor habits.
  9. They may encourage the follower to start carrying around premade snacks so they have the foods they need that align with their diet of choice.

What is the problem with trendy diets?

Trendy diets are like a house of cards. It doesn’t take much of a disruption in your life to see the cards fall and automatic behaviours take over, getting you back to that frustrating, familiar place called square one.

This kind of frustration is at the heart of Nutrition Month 2017!  Lead out by Dietitians of Canada, this year’s theme is “Take the Fight out of Food”. The campaign guides people through a three-step approach to improve their relationship with food, no matter what the struggle. I, along with dietitians across the country, will empower Canadians to:

  1. Spot the problem. Identify or define the specific nutrition problem that needs to be solved, since it’s causing a fight with food.
  2. Get the facts. Decide what needs to be done to solve the problem, using reliable and credible sources.
  1. Seek support. Put the plan into action with support from family, friends, a dietitian and other members of the health care team.

Over the next month, I will post examples of these “food fights” and walk you through how to get the facts and seek support. You can take action right now by committing to Take the Fight out of Food at www.nutritionmonth2017.ca.

Happy Nutrition Month 2017!


Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Calgary, AB.

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