It’s the beginning of a new year and that means that our media is inundated with diet and weight loss recommendations, tips, and success stories all meant to help you create the “new, thinner, happier, and all-around better version of you.” What the media doesn’t tell you is that diets don’t work in the long-term; in fact, they can lead to weight gain and disordered eating.
Green Mountain at Fox Run, sponsor of Healthy Weight Week 2014, has recently announced the “Slim Chance Awards,” a selection of the worst diet schemes of 2013. These awards started 25 years ago as a way to call out the most outrageous and overrated weight loss products, plans, and gimmicks of the year, and ultimately to increase awareness that dieting usually results in poorer health and weight gain over time.
2013 Slim Chance Award Winners
Worst Weight Loss Plan: The Special K Challenge
Kelloggs’ Special K Challenge claims that by replacing two meals a day with Special K products, including cereals, protein shakes and protein meal bars, a weight loss of up to 6 pounds in 14 days will occur.
“First, a weight loss of 6 pounds in two weeks just sets people up for the yo-yo diet cycle of losing and regaining that makes people fatter, not thinner.” says Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD, president and co-owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run. “It also fosters chronic inflammation, which leads to all sorts of health problems, including weight gain for many. To top it off, a diet that’s primarily processed grain products can even contribute to chronic inflammation. It’s likely that many people following this challenge are already struggling with chronic inflammation, so this approach just delivers a double whammy."
Most Overrated: Non-Invasive Body Contouring Procedures
The latest technologies, from ultrasound to freezing fat, are marketed to treat “problem areas.” Also known as liposuction lasers, non-surgical fat reduction, or non-invasive fat removal, treatments can cost thousands of dollars per area, are recommended only for people who are at a “normal weight,” and produce incredibly varied results.
“These kind of ‘miracle’ procedures feed body dissatisfaction and encourage unhealthy behaviors,” said Ashley Solomon, PsyD. “When people are only focused on reducing fat, losing inches or weighing less, they set themselves up for disappointment and self-flagellation when it doesn’t work as well as they’d hoped or if they experience weight-regain. Disordered eating can result.”
Most Outrageous: Cotton Ball Diet
The Cotton Ball diet started popping up on YouTube earlier in 2013, unveiling a disturbing fad diet most popular among young women. It works by dipping cotton balls in juice and ingesting them. The objective is to feel full without actually consuming real food. Risks include a blockage in the digestive system, which could result in surgery.
Worst Gimmick: The Tongue Patch Diet
In this reversible procedure a plastic mesh patch is fitted to the patient’s tongue. The purpose is to make chewing extremely painful, thus limiting the dieter to only liquid. Users have reported up to 20 lbs. of weight loss in a month.
“Anything that prevents you from eating will result in weight loss,” says Hudnall. “The question is, what is the ultimate aim – being thin or being healthy? Products like these just keep people focused on the wrong thing. If we want to be happy in our bodies, we need to support them. That means, among other things, feeding them well, not starving them."
Moving Away from Weight Loss
While four weight loss schemes stood out as the worst of 2013, Hudnall emphasizes that, in general, the pursuit of weight loss doesn’t take people where they want to go.
“The pursuit of weight loss has become an obsession in this country. And that’s independent of whether a person could be considered fat. For example, studies repeatedly show young children and teens are afraid of becoming fat, and engage in restricted eating and other practices to prevent it. Unfortunately, these practices end up causing weight gain, eating disorders, and poor health. The solution is to change the focus from weight to health, and support people in living healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.”
Hudnall offers the following tips for finding your healthy weight:
- Focus on feeling good, not how much you weigh.
- Choose foods that make you feel well, and eat them in a way that makes you feel well.
- Listen to and trust your body’s cues – it can tell you when you are hungry and when you’ve had enough to eat.
- Find movement that is pleasurable to you.
- Forget about burning calories – that focus makes exercise a punishment, not a pleasure.
- Find ways to fulfill your social, emotional and spiritual needs.
About Healthy Weight Week
Healthy Weight Week is January 19-25, 2014. In addition to the Slim Chance Awards, the week features:
- The Healthy Body Image Award, given to one winner who has made strides in helping people accept their bodies and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- The Healthy Weight Blogger Awards, given to bloggers who support people finding their healthy weights and giving up dieting.
All information about Healthy Weight Week can be found at www.fitwoman.com/healthy-weight-week.
Here's to a happy and healthy New Year!
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