Ask anyone what they consider healthy eating and you will almost always hear the word “diet” in their answer. But what is a diet really?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a diet is “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight.” Being healthy is not just about losing weight, so why do we constantly associate healthy eating with dieting?  

Today’s society has created the norm of being on a constant cycle of what has become known as “fad diets.” We already know what a diet is, and a fad diet is simply one which is currently popular. 

Some of the most popular examples include the South Beach diet, the ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet and the paleo diet. Generally, these diets require intense portion control and cutting out major food groups like carbs or dairy. They always promise excessively speedy weight loss. Some even go as far as to require taking pills and supplements to quicken the weight loss process.  

Fad diets are all different, but one thing they all have in common is their temporary nature. You start the diet, commit for about one to two weeks, lose about 10 pounds and then here and there you cheat on your diet. Next thing you know, you have gained back the weight and more because you were setting unattainable expectations for your body.

The danger in fad dieting comes from the unrealistic standards many of these diets require you to meet. Many diets pick three or four “super foods” for you to rotate through, causing you to miss a lot of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs every day, which can then induce a lack of focus and energy needed for day-to-day activities. 

An example of one of these zero-carb meal plans is the keto diet, which most people believe does not fall into the “fad” category. However, it can pose major health threats to those who partake in it. According to Angria Bharadwaj of The Daily Telegraph, keto diets encourage a high intake of fatty foods and allow for almost no carbs. This increased fat intake can cause build-up of plaque in arteries, which can lead to major complications in heart health.  

Additionally, most of these fad diets are marketed as a way to lose weight without any exercise. Healthy weight loss, and just healthy living in general, should involve 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, says Taylor Wolfram of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We have all been told exercising a little bit every day is fundamental to good health since elementary school's physical education classes, and this still holds true no matter your age. 

If you are trying to lose weight or trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, do not turn to the latest eating trend in hopes of a permanent solution. The best thing to do is to find an eating and exercise regimen which fits your current way of living, and ease your way into long term good health.

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