The Truth Behind Fad Diets and Eating Disorders

Category: Blog

You may know a friend that follows an extreme diet to lose weight. Often, it may be difficult to tell whether a friend’s peculiar eating habits follow a fad diet or if he or she actually has an eating disorder. This National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, take the time to understand the difference between a fad diet and an eating disorder.

What is a fad diet?

A fad diet is a weight-loss plan that promises quick, easy and dramatic results. Fad diets strip weight from water and lean muscle, not from body fat. In fact, these types of diets are unhealthy since they purge crucial nutrients needed to function properly. Any weight lost is usually gained back after completion of the fad diet.

Examples of fad diets include “SlimFast,” “Fit for Life” and “Protein Power,” among many others.

Confusion between fad diets and eating disorders arises when fad diets demand strict food plans, meal skipping and unrealistic body image goals. A truly healthy diet includes tips like filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, eating whole fruits and drinking water instead of sugar-filled drinks.

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a condition that involves extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors toward weight and food. It is a physical and mental problem that affects both males and females, and can have life-threatening consequences. It can affect a person of any age, weight or racial background.

Examples of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.

Eating disorders are mental health problems that can’t be overlooked and must receive immediate medical attention. Advise your friend to take the “Online Eating Disorder Screening” on the National Eating Disorders Association website, to gauge whether he or she requires medical attention for his or her eating habits.

How can my friend get help with healthy weight loss?

Instead of falling for fad diets, motivate your friend to talk to his or her doctor about a safe and healthy plan to lose weight. Encourage your friend to keep his or her doctor involved with any progress to better achieve a lasting weight-loss solution.

Your friend can use online resources as well. Several websites, such as the National Eating Disorders Association, offer toll-free calling, online chat and texting services for body image questions or problems.

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