Ketogenic, paleo, Atkins, raw food, flexitarian, DASH, military, zone, south beach, gluten-free, volumetric…The list seems to be endless when it comes to fad diets! Every year there is a different diet plan vying for the title of ‘most popular.’ If the diet gets the celebrity seal of approval, its demand surges even more!
It’s not difficult to see why these diets become popular – obesity is on the rise in New Zealand. In a 2016/17 Ministry of Health Survey, 32 percent of New Zealand adults were found to be obese, an increase of 29 percent since 2011/121.
New Zealand has the third highest rate of adult obesity per capita in the world2.
Fad diets usually promote rapid weight loss, claiming all you need to do is eat (or not eat) a particular kind of food. Is there really a place for these kinds of diets? In some cases, there are: a gluten-free diet is necessary for those with Coeliac disease, while the ketogenic diet was first developed for the treatment of epilepsy in children3.
When it comes to weight loss, these types of diets are usually only successful in the short term. Fad diets may result in initial weight loss, but their strict regimes and limited food choices often mean that they are not sustainable and may even lead to nutritional deficiencies. Rebound weight gain usually occurs when normal eating habits resume.
Understanding and implementing permanent lifestyle changes is the answer to achieving a healthy weight, improved energy and increased vitality. Creating sustainable strategies for better food choices, exercise and healthier behaviours is key to achieving your weight goals.
This is not new information but may be easier said than done. It is not simple to identify and change food habits or to increase physical activity, let alone change unhealthy behaviours such as smoking. However, a focus on behaviour and how it drives the choices you make in relation to food, exercise and lifestyle is fundamental to achieving control of your weight.
So, what are the food and lifestyle behaviours that can support healthy weight, vitality and wellness?
Have internal motivators:
Reasons like better health, increased energy, self-esteem and personal control increase the chances of lifelong weight management.
Control your home and work environment:
Keep unhealthy foods out of your home and workplace.
Manage your meals:
- Select a variety of foods in sensible portions
- Consider no foods to be magical or forbidden
- Choose whole foods over processed foods to boost your nutrient and fibre intake
- Embrace vegetables
- Include low-fat dairy options
- Use small amounts of healthy fats – olive oil, nut and seed butters, coconut oil.
Make exercise a priority and a planned activity in your day, and be sure to drink plenty of water.
Food is for life and healthy eating need not be a chore. Think long term – you are developing new, healthy behaviours to last you a lifetime.
1. Annual Update of Key Results 2016/17: New Zealand Health Survey. Ministry of Health. 14 December 2017. 2. Obesity
Update 2017. OECD. 2017. 3. History of the Ketogenic Diet. Mandal, Dr A. News Medical Life Sciences. 12 January 2015.