The Dangerous Impact Your Fad Dieting is Having on Your Teen
Fad diets, those that promise a quick fix and rapid weight loss, usually sound too good to be true—because they are. At best, fad diets are a temporary solution. They promise instant gratification without the ability to deliver long-term success. At their worst, fad diets contribute to serious emotional and physical health issues, especially in children and teens. Parents who are constant fad dieters need to be aware of the potentially dangerous effects that these practices are having on their children. When weight loss is involved, being safe and healthy should always be the primary consideration, and effective weight loss programs for teens may be a better option which can produce more long term results and lead to a healthier lifestyle.
What is a fad diet?
Fad diets are those diets that become quickly popular with the promise of speedy weight loss and require very little work. While a handful may provide short-term results, most fail to provide nutritional value and do not fulfill caloric intake needs. They may require or restrict particular foods, and they may involve taking additional pills or supplements. Most importantly, they are not sustainable and they do not deliver long-term success.
How to spot a fad diet.
Fad diets typically:
- Label particular foods as “good” and “bad”
- Make dramatic statements that are rejected by reputable scientific groups
- Have endorsements that are based on a single study or testimony
- Oversimplify complex research
- Refer to studies that have not been reviewed by independent experts
- Eliminate one or more food group
- Try to sell a product
Fad dieting can have a dangerous impact on a child or teen’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
Fad dieting has the potential to impact the parent-child relationship and the family dynamic negatively, first, because the food choices that a parent makes for himself or herself usually are made for the child as well, and second, because children model the behavior of their parents.
Dieting in general teaches children and teens to feel shame about eating certain foods—leading to a poor self-image and unhealthy eating habits (such as binging), or an eating disorder (like bulimia or anorexia). Classifying certain foods as “good” or “bad” may help to endorse unhealthy thoughts such as, “this cupcake is bad, so I am bad if I eat it.” When a fad diet promises to deliver and then doesn’t work, the person can feel like a failure, further contributing to body image issues.
Switching to a healthy lifestyle has greater long-term physical and emotional benefits.
A meal plan that satisfies nutritional and caloric requirements is a better way to achieve long-term results. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that a healthy approach to a well balanced diet should focus on moderation, portion size, and physical activity, and should be tailored to the family’s schedule and lifestyle. A small amount of energy spent planning meals and snacks for the week can eliminate the need to resort to fast, unhealthy choices.
Shedding pounds should not be the main focus. It is most important to concentrate on the overall pattern of the family diet and the foods that are eaten. Moderation and a choice of healthy options is key, especially for children and teens.
The focus should be on feeling good and maintaining overall good health, not about losing weight. A healthy lifestyle that incorporates a holistic diet will produce lasting physical results, as well as an improved emotional state.
For this reason, weight loss programs for teens, such as the many programs offered by Rites of Passage, should be considered prior to attempting any fad dieting. Call us today at (800)794-0980 to learn more.