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Diet Plans: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Diet Plans: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Some days it feels like everywhere you turn there are new superfoods or diet plans popping up. A lot of these are based on sound scientific evidence, but in many cases, the evidence has been used inappropriately.

No one can argue against the benefits of eating well and staying healthy. Unfortunately, some people try to take advantage of the general global trend toward healthier eating by coming up with ways to exploit those looking to change their culinary habits.

Here are some signs that a diet plan might be a scam:

  • Flimsy science: If the plan mentions something like "antioxidants" or "superfoods," you should be aware that the makers of the plan might not really know what they're talking about. Buzzwords are all the rage in marketing, which means they might be more interested in putting big bucks on their own table rather than healthy food on yours.
  • High costs: Sometimes you will be required to make a purchase (or several) in order to follow a specific diet plan. Any supplements, including protein shakes or other supposedly beneficial items, should be regularly available outside of the website or company that you are looking at. Real healthy eating can be accomplished with normal foods. In fact, many doctors and scientists agree that less processed foods are better, which means that packages of pills or powders are probably not the best option for you--especially if the price is high.
  • Weight-loss teas: Herbal teas will not help you lose weight. The only way that tea can help with a diet plan is by giving you an artificial sensation of being full. But this result comes from any liquid that temporarily fills your stomach, including water. Again, having to pay a lot of money for special teas may be a sign that the plan is more of a scam than something that will give you actual results.
  • Speed: Losing weight in a matter of days or weeks is both unhealthy and dangerous. It is also nearly impossible. Diet plans that suggest you can do so are either misguided or intentionally damaging. Either way, you want to avoid this type of weight loss. Shedding one or two pounds a week is a much better approach.

Diet plans have more to do with health than weight and United Way tries to help educate people on the importance of various foods and other products. When in doubt about any lifestyle change, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor.