Warnings about fad diets don’t seem to be getting through to young Australians, with new research showing they are more likely to fall for dubious diets than older Australians.
A survey of 1,033 Australians, commissioned by the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), found that 18-to-34-year-olds are more likely than other age groups to have experimented with fad diets, with six in 10 (58 per cent) having tried a questionable ‘diet’ in the last 12 months.
That number drops to 38 per cent for 35-to-49-year-olds, and 44 per cent for 50-to-64-year-olds.
Popular fad diets among young people include the sugar-free diet, meal replacement shakes, a low carb/high fat diet, a detox diet or program, the raw food diet and the Dukan diet.
“Fad diets seem to offer an easy solution, packaged in a warm and fuzzy way, often with the backing of celebrities,” DAA spokesperson and Accredited Practising Dietitian Professor Clare Collins explains.
Professor Collins says the best approach for those looking to lose weight is to make permanent and sustainable changes to their lifestyle, rather than falling for a quick fix. But she did see a silver lining in the survey results.
“The good news from our survey is that, despite being seduced by fad diets, younger Australians have the right intentions — they’re the most likely to want to adopt healthier eating habits, eat more vegetables and cook at home more often,” Professor Collins says.
According to the DAA, the best way to forgo fad diets is to succeed in becoming healthier the old-fashioned way. They suggest these tried-and-true resolutions for 2017.
- Skip the fads: Fad diets might bring quick weight loss results, but they don’t work in the long term. So ditch the fads and focus on sustainable changes to make a real difference to your health and wellbeing.
- Focus on eating regularly: Be prepared with healthy snacks like nuts, cheese and crackers, fruit and yoghurt, to avoid crashing and burning or overeating at the next meal.
- Watch out for portion distortion: When eating out, opt for an entree-sized meal rather than a main, and never be afraid to leave food on your plate if you’re already satisfied.
- Start with the right fuel: Breakfast eaters are slimmer than those who skip a morning meal, and tend to make healthier choices throughout the day.
- Everything in moderation: There’s no need to deprive yourself of the foods you love. Enjoy a wide variety of foods, including ‘treat’ foods — everything in moderation!
- Clear fluids for a clear mind: Go easy on the alcohol, and cut out empty kilojoules in soft drinks — sticking to tap or sparkling water will save you around 700kJ.
- Get moving: Get your heart rate up for 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Take the stairs instead of the lift, or park a little further away from the shops. It all counts!
- Start a food diary: Writing down everything you eat and drink helps to highlight areas you can improve.
- Fill up on fibre: Fibre-rich foods like fruit and veggies, legumes and wholegrain bread help to keep us feeling fuller for longer.
- Up your veggies: Less than one in 10 Australians eat enough vegetables, and adding in a few extra serves is a simple step toward healthier eating. Start by bulking up pasta sauces and mince-based meals with grated vegetables like carrot and zucchini, or make a big pot of vegetable soup and portion out for weekday lunches.
- Seek support: An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) is your diet coach, and can provide you with tailored advice and support to help you achieve your goals.
Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, run by the Dietitians Association of Australia from 13-19 February, is the perfect time to kick-start healthy eating habits. For more info and to find an APD in your area, visit healthyweightweek.com.au.