It’s that time of year again! People are seeking motivation (or a quick-fix, trendy juice cleanse) to get back on track and slim down before swimsuit season. With the influx of fad diets promoted across magazines, TV and social media, helping distinguish fact from fad can be a daunting task nutrition professionals face this time of year.
Although often overlooked, this stretch of time presents an opportunity for educational intervention. Nutrition professionals have the unique ability to communicate using evidence-based information and this opportunity to encourage healthy eating habits should not be wasted. Here are some tips for promoting sound nutrition in a diet-crazed society:
- Take time to listen. A person’s reasoning behind beginning a specific diet can reveal a lot. More often than not, you will be able to unveil a person’s true motivations for exploring a diet change just by listening.
- Research popular fad diets. (Yes, you read that right!) It is important to understand what these diets entail so that you can formulate an educated response when asked about them.
- Explain the pros and cons of fad diets. We may not be fond of diets that eliminate full food groups, but we can put emphasis on the good qualities of the diet (such as improved fruit and vegetable intake) and explain the not-so-good qualities of a fad diet, along with the risks.
We have the skills to explain the many factors that make up balanced nutrition and can motivate people to make informed decisions by arming them with evidence-based nutrition knowledge. Encouraging a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein foods and healthy fats is a good place to start. The next time someone approaches you about a fad diet, remember: A motivated person will likely be receptive to any knowledge you are willing to share!