Unhealthy Diets

Looking to change up your eating habits?

With obesity on the rise, it comes as no surprise that lots of people are opting for drastic measures when it comes to weight loss. Many are turning to miraculous-sounding diets that promise to melt off the pounds with minimal effort, or the promise of completely transforming your health.

The reality is that many people are wasting their time and money following unsound diets.

Worst Diet Ever

Let us summarise quickly what the worst possible diet may look like, in order for us to know what to avoid.

A bad diet would typically:

    • Be limited to food that is either not easily available, not easily prepared, or not tasteful or the diet could be quite costly.
      • Some people may think that it has to hurt to work, but in the case of a good diet this is just the opposite. A good diet stays with you as a lifestyle - you don't want inconvenience and expenses to stay with you.
    • Be a one-off exercise - you 'carry out' a diet for a few weeks or months just as you would do with medical treatment. Then once you have lost the desired weight, you go back to eating the same way as before.
      • The problem here lies in the fact that you are not trying to cure a disease. You are trying to eat healthier foods that you will need to eat everyday for the rest of your life. A healthy diet is a lifestyle change, not a three week weightloss program.
    • Be disconnected from your lifestyle, including your exercise habits.
      • As per the previous points above, a good diet is one that you can easily apply to your life because it is enjoyable, affordable and healthy. It needs to become a part of your life and in this way it will also connect you to suitable, regular exercise. 

      At the end of the day, an unhealthy 'diet' can often be practiced as just another act of consumerism: try something quick, throw it away, try another one - i.e. the birth of fads.

      The right diet for you is simply a part of your healthy lifestyle. You don't even think of it a diet, it is just the way you are and eat. 

      healthy eating

      Let us now have a look at some example of diets that don't measure up to a lifestyle diet as per the points above.

      The hCG Diet

      HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy and as a prescription medication it is used to mainly treat fertility issues. Advocates of the hormone say that it plays a key role in weight management in that is has been shown to increase the metabolism of stored fat. According to the Mayo Clinic, HCG has not been proven to work for weight loss.

      The hCG diet is a very low-calorie plan (500-800 calories per day) which is supplemented with injections of the hormone. People who follow such a very low calorie diet are likely to lose weight, at least in the short term.

      HCG diet supplements

      Verdict:

      Seriously, can you imagine something more remote from enjoying your food everyday and having a normal life? Is that something you want to do for the rest of your life? In actual fact, it's not something you can sustain in the long term and your weightloss will return as quickly as you lose it.

      Cabbage Soup Diet

      This diet is a crash diet and probably won’t help you in the long run. It also does not give your body the nutrients that it needs to stay healthy.

      The bulk of the diet is a fat-free cabbage soup eaten about three times a day with other allowed foods assigned each day. For example:

      • Day 1: Fruit, except bananas
      • Day 2: Vegetables like leafy greens (not starchy), no fruit
      • Day 3: Fruits and vegetables
      Your menu options are severely limited on this diet and it quickly gets very boring. It is also recommended not to work out at high levels due to it being such a low-calorie diet and your body won’t have enough fuel to go the distance.

        In terms of the diet actually working, you will lose weight but only in the short term. Mostly what you lose will be water weight and chances are you will regain this as soon as you return to eating a normal diet again.

        cabbage soup diet

        Verdict:

        Same as the verdict for the hCG diet: Is this diet something that you feel like doing everyday for the rest of your life? Not everybody lives on a 1950s soviet kolkose, which is when this diet was last a necessary way of life.

        Hallelujah Diet

        Pastor George M. Malkmus developed the Hellelujah diet based on what he believes is the ideal diet that God intended for us to eat in the Garden of Eden.

        The diet is fundamentally a vegan, raw food diet. The basic guidelines of the diet are simple: consume 85% raw foods and 15% cooked foods. The cooked portion is usually consumed at the end of the evening meal.

        On the Hallelujah diet it is recommended to skip breakfast and instead have only barley grass drinks and fresh vegetable juices. Options for breakfast are given for those transitioning from a standard diet and include such foods as fresh fruit salad, whole grain raw granola, almond milk and sprouted grain toast with almond butter. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol are strictly prohibited.

        The Hallelujah Diet also involves the use of a number of supplements which are sold on the Hallelujah Diet website.

        hallelujah diet

        While it may be beneficial for a short term cleansing diet, the Hallelujah diet is far too low in protein and other essential nutrients to be viable as a health promoting diet over the longer term. Those who are physically active as well as people with digestive disorders or chronic illnesses will especially fall far short of their daily protein needs.

        Verdict:

        While it is not altogether bad, the cranky religious/commercial bend of the Hallelujah diet does not compile to a healthy lifestyle.

        Breatharian Diet

        Apparently to complete this diet, you align yourself to the universe and you won’t need water or food.

        The Breatharian Diet is based on the Inedia principle which claims that food and water are not necessary to sustain life and that the human body can very well subsist on air, sunlight and life force alone.

        The Breatharian Institute of America has been promoting the concept of the Breatharian Diet for the past few years.

        Wiley Brooks is the founder of the Institute and claims to subsist on air and sunlight most of the time, but that he breaks this fast once in a while by eating a McDonald’s burger and a Diet coke. He explains the choice by saying that junk food provides a specific energetic balance needed to contrast the clean state that the apparently maintains the rest of the time.

        Following a fast for a day or two can be a good way to de-stress or get in touch with your inner self and help clean your body of toxins. But there is no medical evidence to support the idea that anybody can live more than a few days without food or water.

        Breatharian diet

        Verdict:

        May work well with plants, especially of the aerophyte type. Please do not attempt this diet if your are a human. 

        To summarise:

        A bad diet is an act of consumerism and quite often value-displaying, focusing for a few weeks or months on foods that are limiting, not satisfying and not connected to your lifestyle, your circumstances (such as your blood group and allergies) and your exercising habits.