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Crash Course in Fad Dieting

by Jess Willard

Military Diet Mayhem

A topic recently trending on Facebook was the military diet. It advertised the idea that people could lose up to 10 pounds per week. According to the diet plan’s website, participants must adhere to a strict low-calorie diet for three days. Meals were limiting; for example, one meal consisted of a hard-boiled egg, a cup of cottage cheese and five saltine crackers. For the next four days, participants were advised to consume 1500 calories or less per day. The site emphasized that water, caffeine-free herbal tea and black coffee were the only acceptable beverages for the plan. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) states that if a diet promises quick weight loss and lacks valid scientific research to support its claims, then it’s a fad diet. The UPMC also said diets like these can be harmful to your health by causing increased risk of chronic disease and kidney stones.

Freshman studio arts major Veronica Lee found the diet after a friend shared it. After her brother lectured her about its dangers, she decided not to use it. She decided to speak with a doctor and started a no carb, high fat diet. “I am not really satisfied with my weight as of now. I…lost weight when I first came to school, but…I feel like if I develop healthier eating habits, I will be more happy with myself even if I don’t lose too much weight,” she said. Lee also mentioned the difficulties of obtaining all of the food required by the military diet on a college student’s budget.

Transfer admissions counselor Brian Herrmann also came across the diet on Facebook. His immediate thought was that if a diet promises seemingly outrageous results, then it will probably not be effective. His suggestion for those trying to switch their eating habits was to stop referring to it as a “diet” because it makes the consumption changes finite. Herrmann said considering it as a long-term change will help people stay true to what they want to accomplish. “I guess you first have to identify your goals, whether it’s improving your overall fitness or just getting your diet in order. And then, honestly the best place to start for someone who is starting from…scratch essentially, the best thing to do would probably be to talk to a doctor or a dietitian or a nutritionist about diet,” he added.

Athletic trainer Malia Murphy is most familiar with diets involving calorie and carb restrictions. She feels like limitations make it difficult for people to stick to a diet because it causes them to get discouraged easier. According to her, a point system like Weight Watchers may be more beneficial. Those who wish to change their dieting habits would still be able eat their favorite foods, while monitoring what they eat. “Everybody is motivated by different things. I know a lot of people switch over to being a vegetarian and they feel a lot better,” Murphy added. “Just your overall health changes and not being so fatigued all the time–seeing the physiological benefits helps.”

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