Sometimes, it seems like fad diets show up constantly. Trending diets become all the rage one day and start to lose popularity a short time later. The same thing can even happen with natural ingredients, such as apple cider vinegar. Should you swear off “superfoods” completely?
What Are the Differences Between Fad Diets and Healthy Eating?
Many “miracle” foods and diets don’t do what they promise. That doesn’t mean you should ignore new scientific discoveries, however. There are at least three differences between healthy foods that have genuine benefits and empty hype surrounding trendy diets.
1. Fads Exaggerate the Benefits
Exaggerated health claims are one red flag that should make you hesitate when it comes to food trends. When you see a YouTube or TikTok video claiming that one “miracle” food can improve every aspect of your health in huge ways, those claims are usually a lie. Fruits, veggies, herbs, spices and other plants aren’t going to cure chronic diseases or make pain disappear, no matter what the videos say.
Natural foods with real benefits often provide more modest effects that work well for long-term results. For example, taking a probiotic supplement can support your digestive system and immune system, but the key word here is support. The goal is to help your body’s own digestive system work as smoothly as possible. Probiotics add to the number of healthy bacteria in your gut.
2. Extreme Diets Can Hurt You
Foods that are genuinely healthy mainly give your body the nutrients it needs. They help you avoid running out of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. As long as you enjoy these foods in moderation, they rarely have any negative side effects. Of course, if your doctor tells you to avoid certain foods because of health issues, you should listen.
Fad diet trends are different. They often tell you to cut out important groups of foods from your life completely. Some may tell you to avoid all carbohydrates or to drink excessive amounts of liquids only.
It’s not just that these methods of eating don’t do what they say. Extreme practices can also have real dangers for your health. They may trigger serious nutrient deficiencies, including low calcium levels and missing nutrients for heart health. There can even be short-term effects on mood and mental health.
3. Unhealthy Trends Feel Like Punishment
Another reason that the hype around new food trends often dies out quickly is that they’re not sustainable. Protein shakes and smoothies can provide benefits, such as helping you stay full in the morning instead of craving junk food. If you’re trying to replace entire meals with smoothies, though, you’re not going to be able to keep it up forever.
On the other hand, a balanced diet with a variety of nutritious ingredients can be enjoyable. Even if you limit your salt and sugar intake, fresh foods still taste delicious. There are many ways to limit unhealthy fats and still make flavorful foods you love, including family favorites such as spaghetti and tacos. Sure, you may not eat as much ice cream as in the past, but fresh fruit can taste amazing as a snack, too.
What Type of Food Trends Work?
When you see news reports about food trends, do your homework. Honest articles should point out the pros and cons in clear terms. Also, good habits generally receive support from well-known health organizations and respected online sources as well.
For example, the Mediterranean diet has been “trending” for decades, but it really delivers benefits for heart health. Professionals such as the Harvard School of Public Health and Mayo Clinic back up the science behind good foods such as extra-virgin olive oil, omega-3s and other Mediterranean mainstays.
Use trending foods to spice up your weekly diet. Feel free to cook more often with ginger, garlic and turmeric. Enjoy healthy foods for what they are: tasty sources of important nutrition, not an effortless shortcut to good health.