We all know someone on a crazy fad diet, that is if we aren’t doing it ourselves.
Crazy fad diets or crash diets almost always involve severely restricting the number of calories (energy). They can also include following unnatural ways of eating. I’ve even seen plenty of crazy diets that include eating weird ingredients (things I wouldn’t even call foods, per se) or focusing on a magical “superfood.”
In these crazy fad diets, it’s the man-made food rules – not God’s designed system of hunger and satiety – that call all the shots. Although with any calorie restriction, weight is lost in the beginning. Yet, most people (up to 95%) simply cannot maintain the weight loss achieved through crash or fad diets.
The problem lies in the long-term consequences. Crazy fad diets can lead to many negative side effects, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And these can get worse with each new diet…I know this story well from my own life.
If someone you love is caught up in the false promises of a crazy new fad diet and you are concerned, you may be able to help. In general, I have found you need to tread lightly. Someone who has committed to such an extreme eating plan has usually been convinced (or has convinced themselves) that these diet rules are necessary.
Trust me when I say…this mindset is not easy to change. However, you may find times and occasions when you can drop seeds of truth into your conversations.
Today I will share some possible talking points and encouragements for you to share wisely with your loved one. I will cover two today and the remaining three in the next post.
Encourage realistic goals over fad diets
It would be helpful to remind your loved one that weight that is quickly lost does not usually stay lost.
If you know this person has a history of dieting and weight regain (like most of us), try this exercise with her. Have her recall the effort she has put into those past diets and how long the results lasted. It can be quite helpful for the person to conclude for herself that no fad diet has ever delivered what it promised in the long run.
Next, encourage achievable goals and reasonable methods for more sustainable results (in most cases, the desired result is weight loss). Work together to set new goals that are realistic and achievable for her.
For example, if weight loss is the goal, encourage her to adopt a slow-and-steady mindset. Although the following Proverb refers to money, the principle seems to apply to most endeavors, including weight loss:
“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it” (Proverbs 13:11).
Just like banking on a “get rich quick” scheme, striving to lose more than 1-2 pounds a week is not sustainable, healthy, or character-building. One pound per week is best – and a very different target than fad diets aim for.
Encourage variety over fad diets
On top of helping your loved one have a slow-and-steady mindset, help her also think in terms of variety. Eating a wide variety of foods throughout the day and week has many benefits. Here are my top 3:
- From a nutrition perspective, more variety can mean more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- From a food-relationship perspective, eating a variety of foods helps fight the “good vs. bad” food lie, and diminishes fear of different foods. Experiencing how all foods fit her health (and even weight) goals, your loved one can have more peace and enjoyment of food, as God designed. Encourage her to get this free ebook which can help her learn to eat this way.
- From a long-term perspective, variety is necessary for any healthy eating plan to be sustainable. Most people can’t live on a narrow range of foods for long. Variety brings greater satisfaction with eating, and satisfaction ensures that her healthy eating behaviors can continue for a lifetime.
If you are worried that your loved one has crossed into disordered eating behaviors that concern you, you’ll need to be more direct in your conversations with her. Try to suggest professional help and direct her to some faithful resources. If I can be of service, I would be very happy to chat with your loved one to determine her best course of action and what support she needs.
You and your sister in the Lord are welcome to join our free Facebook group where we can interact and support others who have these same experiences.
Next week, part 2 of this article will continue with the next three ideas for someone you know who is on a crazy fad diet. Be sure to check that out!