Dishing the Dirt on Diets


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Even though food of this nature is often considered unhealthy, it provides several important nutrients.

Take a minute; look at the newspapers lining the checkout lines, watch a few minutes of television, surf the internet. There are obvious common denominators in each of those actions. Diets. They are constantly being advertised and pushed through every facet of media. This could be the drive behind people of younger and younger ages participating in dieting as a means to drop weight fast. Spring break is coming up, walking around Lambert High School, teenagers are constantly boasting about their new and improved plans to achieve that beach body.

There is one key issue with the concept of dieting. A majority of diets are unhealthy and cause more harm than good. There are four main diets that are currently trending, although they don’t improve the dieter’s health. These diets include a non carb diet, a paleo diet, the clean eating trend, and detox or juice cleanse.

The non-carb diet is by far the most popular diet. This diet promotes eating in a way in which you don’t consume any carbohydrates. Neva Cochran, a nutrition communications consultant, stated “I don’t recommend any diet or fad that eliminates an entire food group or groups”. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the non-carb diet does. She proceeded in saying, “Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. Eating a no-carb or low-carb diet is not healthy”. This opinion was further supported by another nutritionist, Julie Orr. Orr stated, “When you eliminate an entire food group you are eliminating essential nutrients that your body requires for life”. The loss of nutrients isn’t the only issue with this diet. It affects other aspects of your life too. Many people who stick to a low- carbohydrate diet quit any form of exercise. This is due to the lack of energy that a no carb diet supplies the body. Yet another issue, is the type of food that replaces your carb intake. The calories that are supposed to be gained from carbohydrates are often gained through protein. However, eating a high protein diet can increase your chance of heart disease. As well as, it can lead to kidney stones. Janelle Sykes, the manager of Pantry Take Over, added her thoughts on the matter. Sykes encouraged, “Balance is key!” and a balanced diet includes every food group. Eliminating carbohydrates from your diet goes against the recommendations of most nutritionists and it causes more issues than the dieter started with.

The most widely discouraged diet is the Paleo Diet. The Paleo diet encourages eating patterns that exclude dairy, grain, and processed foods. This diet contains a large amount of protein, vegetables, and fruit. The Paleo diet is often modeled by the eating pattern of those living during the Paleo era. Cochran was strongly against this diet, saying “To assume there was one certain way of eating and that it was superior to food available now is not accurate”. Regarding the paleo era, the food they once ate doesn’t even exist anymore. All of the meat products were different, even the fruit was different. As well as, their health conditions were much worse than those of the modern world. They were often infected with deadly diseases and parasites. If somebody is enforcing the paleo diet, they are eating the same way their sick paleo ancestors did. The issues with this diet just keep coming. It’s a diet that’s extremely high in saturated fat. It is hard to sustain. Our digestives systems have evolved past this way of eating. Orr brought up the issue with eliminating dairy while attempting the Paleo diet. She stated, “When you eliminate diary you put yourself at risk for bone disease, including osteoporosis and osteopenia”. The risk of bone disease is just another reason why the Paleo Diet needs to be avoided. The U.S. News and World Report did their annual Best Diets Ranking, and the Paleo diet was placed dead last. That fact alone should say something.

One of the most intense diets is the detox diet, also known as the juice cleanse. A cleanse is a diet that involves purely liquids. Occasionally, cleanses will have snacks to accompany them, but those snacks replace any kind of substantial meal. A cleanse can last from a of couple days to a full month. A common example of this kind of diet is the Master Cleanse. The Master Cleanse consists of 6 to 12 glasses of juice and a laxative tea every day, for ten days. This particular cleanse, as well as many others, will often send a body into starvation mode. Starvation mode slows down the body’s metabolism in order to conserve calories, which can drastically harm the dieter’s health. On top of starvation mode, the dieter will often feel the effects of headaches, fatigue, difficulty thinking, stomach pain, and hunger pangs. These are not the side effects of a healthy eating habits. Some of these issues are due to the extremely low intake of protein. The immune system requires protein in order to properly function. Orr commented on the detox diet as well, “It is not necessary. We have a liver and kidneys whose sole function as an organ is to detoxify our bodies”.Cochran added to Orr’s statement by stating, “Our bodies are not loaded with toxins that need to be eliminated in any way other than our body’s natural systems”.

Clean Eating is currently all the rage on social media. Clean Eating consists of avoiding any processed and refined foods. The goal of clean eating is often to remove toxins, lose weight, and get proper nutrition. There is one huge issue with the clean eating diet. It puts a type of moral code on food, labeling some food as naughty, and other food as healthy. However, there is no moral code regarding food. Food should not ever get a negative label. The issue with food is the amount in which you eat, whether it be too less or too little. As well as, by enforcing a diet as strict as clean eating, the dieter can be affected socially, mentally, and physically. Including, eating foods that have not been cleaned can cause severe health issues, such as picking tomatoes directly out of the garden. Yet another issue is the definition of “clean” eating. In the 70’s and 80’s a food was considered to be clean if it was low in MSG. In the 90’s a food was considered clean if it was low in fat and cholesterol. As of now, a “clean” food is often considered to be low in sugar and carbohydrates.If particular foods are labeled “clean” then other foods are labeled “dirty”. A food is considered dirty if it is lacking or devoid of nutrients. Although, every single food contains healthy nutrients. Doughnuts are often considered unhealthy, but they provide fat, sugar, and carbohydrates for your body. Processed foods are often considered dirty as well, although our bodies can handle processed food, it is okay to eat them. “In fact, processing helps make foods more plantable, safe, easy to prepare, and more nutritious” said Cochran.Orr was much fonder of this diet than the others, but still advised against it. She added, “One of the most common clean eating trends is Whole30 which eliminates dairy and grains, which I obviously don’t agree with. I also think that clean eating should not entirely eliminate enjoyable foods”.

However, many individuals need to find substantial ways in which to lose weight, for various medical reasons. This means that these individuals need to find ways to eat healthier. Nutritionist, Julie Orr, is firmly against the majority of diets. She announced, “I truly stand by a non-diet approach that allows individuals to focus on their body and what their body needs”. However, she recognized that some people are in dire need of losing weight. Orr said, “Weight Watchers is a good means of regulating your intake and providing education for individuals who do not have a good understanding of their intake without the stress of counting calories or the negative health effects of eliminating entire food groups”. Julie Orr made it very clear that there are much better ways to stay healthy, rather than participating in excessive dieting.

Overall, it is extremely vital that people treat their bodies with the upmost respect and care. What you eat effects both your physical and mental state. Dieting is a prime example of how people treat their bodies unhealthily. People are constantly trying new diets because they are looking for an easy solution to a complicated problem. Julie Orr stated, “Most people do not want to do the work to lose weight in a healthy way because it takes months to years. We have become a culture that wants everything fast. But healthy weight loss and developing healthy eating patterns is a slow process. Doing it results in long term success”.