Before you decide to diet read this!
By Jaimi Jansen
Our knowledge of nutrition and recommended dietary changes is always changing and evolving. What we believed to be safe and healthy weight-loss options in the 1990’s, we now know are not the best ways to see long-lasting results. We now better understand the complexity of human metabolism, and recognize that there is still much to learn about it. So before you jump on board with the latest ‘fad’ diet be sure to look between the lines. Reflecting on the faddish diets of the 90’s will help your recognize the fads of today. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is! Below are a few diet foods and trends from the 1990’s that we would definitely not recommend today. Instead of dieting try the alternative of making healthy lifestyle choices that support a healthy body.
Unsuccessful Diet #1 — Snackwell’s Fat Free Cookies:
One of the most popular diet trends of the 90’s was low-fat and nonfat foods, especially as dessert items. The goal was to provide consumers with a “healthy” alternative to sweets while still helping them achieve their weight loss goals. However, most companies just replaced the fat in their products with extra sugar, which can actually lead to weight gain and other health issues.
If you are craving a low fat dessert option, try apples drizzled with chocolate and almond butter or a gluten free cookie with oats and dark chocolate. This will not only replace harmful “low-fat” dessert options, but it will also provide you with a handful of other nutrients that will reinforce your dietary needs in a positive way. Apples are packed with vitamin C, filling fiber, natural sugars, and antioxidants. These components of apples have been found important for proper immune function, and for lowering the risk of serious health conditions like heart disease and cancer.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Unsuccessful Diet #2 — Wow Chips:
This short lived brand of potato chips was part of the zero fat, zero calories and zero grams of cholesterol trend that was a dream come true for 90’s dieters. They achieved this feat through using the food additive olestra as a fat substitute. However, we now know that olestra not only removed unwanted fat from food, but also disrupted the body’s ability to absorb key nutrients. This deprived 90’s dieters from other keys components on top of fat, which still pays a major role in body functions. In addition, use of olestra causes unpleasant side-effects, such as stomach cramps, gas and loose stools.
Instead try an oven baked chip, which limits the need for oil because they crisp the potatoes in the oven. Baking instead of frying other foods also limits our fat-intake, as there is little to no need for oils and some fats are drained from the food during the baking process.
Unsuccessful Diet #3 — The Atkins Diet:
this diet touted that weight would melt off, sometimes in a matter of days, merely by swapping out carbs for a high-protein diet. The Atkins Diet completely eliminates all carbs, even nutrient rich fruits, and encourages the consumption of high protein and high fat foods. While a high-protein, low-carb diet can help for short term weight loss, it does not show to have lasting results due to it’s highly restrictive nature. Modern science has informed that all four macromolecules (Fats,Proteins, Carbs and Nucleic Acids) are necessary for the proper body function. Depriving your body of certain nutrients can set it in a “survival mode” in which the body doesn’t know when it will receive that nutrient again, so it is likely to store whatever is available and triggers a craving for it. Once the diet is broken and the dieter goes back their usual eating routine, the body remains in “survival mode” and continues to store higher levels than necessary. Leading to an unavoidable “re-bounce” in weight that will be more difficult to manage. In order to achieve healthy long-term results, it is important to eat a well rounded diet – and yes, that includes healthy carbs.
When dieting it is important to recognize the science behind nutrition and healthy weight loss, as well as the uniqueness of your body’s metabolism. There are many factors that affect weight gain. Your metabolism may be slower or faster than others, and it might respond differently to a diet that worked for a friend. Nutrition is both broad and highly individualistic. We each have specific nutritional needs to be met that can differ from those of others and can react differently to foods. Native Americans, for example, have been found to store more fat from their diets, as their ancestor’s diet consistent mainly of plants, grains, and very lean meat. Their metabolisms are more likely to store fat compared to that of Americans from different ancestries. Fat being the richest source of energy amongst macromolecules (9 kcal/g, compared to 4 kcal/g as provided by carbs and proteins) is evolutionarily favorable, making the body more likely to store it. Start with a well balanced diet containing all four macromolecules, then begin to customize it by choosing foods that are: local and in season as these will be the freshest and most nutrient dense foods, favorable to your unique ancestry as these foods will complement your unique genetic makeup, and foods that by trial and error have been the most beneficial.
Diets of the 90’s are not the only diets that we can have a good laugh over with how ridiculous they may sound. The goal is to make healthy lifestyle choices to promote feeling better rather than a temporary solution to a potential lifelong problem.
When deciding it is time to shed a few pounds it is always best to consult an expert nutritionist like those at Santa Cruz Core. No one body is alike and therefore no one diet is going to work for everyone. This is the secret, the trick to weight loss, that something different is going to work for each individual.
Whether you have 5 pounds to lose or 50 remember that it is a process, that you are perfect just as you are, and the goal is to get to a more optimal weight for the body you live in. It isn’t about looking like someone else but looking and feeling like the best you, you can be!