Fact or Fiction: Dieting Mindfully

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Cara MacDonald

We’ve all made the New Year’s resolution to eat better over the course of a year. With a more health-conscious society, choosing a diet seems to be getting easier. However, people frequently question which diets actually work and which are just passing fads.

The Fads: 

The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: This fad diet says drinking one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in eight ounces of water before every meal will lead to amazing weight loss results. However, the diet itself won’t contribute to weight loss because there aren’t any health benefits to drinking vinegar. In fact, drinking vinegar may do more harm than good.

“Although occasional use of apple cider vinegar is safe for most people, it won’t likely lead to weight loss — and it may pose problems of its own,” said Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic. “For example: Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic. It may irritate your throat if you drink it often or in large amounts. [It] may interact with certain supplements or drugs, including diuretics and insulin. This may contribute to low potassium levels.”

Weight Loss / Diet Pills: There are a wide variety of dietary supplements that say taking them will help a person lose weight by just taking the pill or supplement — Zija XM3 is the most recent. Though these pills may help weight loss when paired with exercise and healthy eating habits, there hasn’t been enough research to determine that weight loss pills are the cause of actual weight loss. Each company has to follow different regulations depending on if they’re marketing their product as a nonprescription drug or as a dietary supplement. Those who choose non-prescription drugs only have to prove that the drug doesn’t hurt people in the prescribed dose. Supplements have to prove the same, as well as include claims about the possible benefits, but they never have to prove the truth of those claims.

“When a dietary supplement is marketed as ‘clinically proven’ to cause weight loss, there should be some type of clinical evidence to support it,” the Mayo Clinic website stated. “Such a claim, however, provides no details about the clinical research.”

The Fab:

DASH Diet: DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension. This diet works because it encourages healthy eating habits. Taking part in the DASH diet calls for reducing the amount of salt eaten, eating more fruits and veggies, switching to whole grains and low-fat dairy and cutting out red meat. DASH itself isn’t a revolutionary idea because it follows what everyone hears growing up, but the diet has been voted the number one diet by U.S. News and World Report. It also isn’t very hard to follow because it isn’t restrictive. Instead of cutting out all the foods everyone loves to eat, the diet says eat less of them and replace them with whole wheat options — which means the pasta and bread are still on the menu.

Mediterranean Diet: The Mediterranean diet calls for reducing the amount of red meat, sugar and saturated fats eaten. While this diet will help weight loss, it has also been proven to reduce chances of getting cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Like the DASH diet, it isn’t too restrictive, which makes it easy to follow.

Breaking it down, the best diet for any person takes into account their medical conditions, their activity level and portion sizes. Fab diets are those that encourage healthy eating and exercise, and fad diets are those that encourage drinking or taking something without changing bad food habits. If you decide to diet, take a closer look at what scientific support your diet has and how restrictive it is. All diets are best accomplished with exercise.

j.eggleston@dailyutahchronicle.com

Jaycen Eggleston
Jaycen Eggleston is an English major who makes a mean macchiato and is interning at the Arts Desk.

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