According to a recent NPD Group survey, the number of Americans dieting has dropped by eleven percentage points since 1991 (from 31% to 20%). Harry Balzer, the Vice President of the NPD Group, was quoted as saying, “Our data suggests that dieters are giving up on diets more quickly than in the past.” It wouldn’t be too far of a leap to say that the proliferation of fad diets over the past couple of decades has something to do with that, and one fitness expert has told me that a line should be drawn.
Alan Aragon is a health, fitness and nutrition expert with over twenty years experience in the field. Amongst other things, he maintains a private practice designing programs for recreational, Olympic, and professional athletes and is the nutrition advisor for Men’s Health Magazine.
I asked Alan what he thought the single biggest change the average person can make to positively affect their health and fitness was, and his response was frank:
If I could name just one change, it would be to completely ignore fad diets. All of them falsely scapegoat a single nutrient or food group. This is missing the forest for the trees. For example, a popular fad diet war-cry is that grain consumption is a sin. Folks who promote this garbage really need to go outside, get some fresh air, and pull their heads out of their butts.
Alan clearly has a firm grasp on the practicalities of dieting for the likes of you and I. In a recent interview published on his blog, he even went as far as to say that eating donuts can be “neutral (and even beneficial in a psychological sense) as long as they only comprise a minority of the diet.” To know that guys such as Alan are looking at health and fitness from a holistic and realistic point of view is encouraging.
The takeaway here should be obvious: there should be no place in your life for fad diets. Dieting should not be about restriction and abstention from the foods that you love the most – it should be about making informed choices, exercising moderation and enacting gradual positive changes.