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Cheat-Sheet: 5 Ways to Spot a Restrictive Fad Diet

Diet culture is starting to get called out for shaming bodies and promoting disordered eating. It is a movement that we have long needed and it has been incredible to see so many prominent voices take the lead in the revolt. Unfortunately, however, the diet industry is not backing down.

In response to the backlash, they have gotten very clever with avoiding certain trigger words (like 'diet') and instead tapping into our insecurities through other sneaky means. 'Wellness' is a common fallback term used to trick us into thinking that whatever they’re selling is conducive to our health. With diets and weight-loss gimmicks masquerading around as tools to achieve health, it can be difficult to spot what’s truly nourishing and sustainable from what’s just another restrictive fad diet.

Please note: If you have a pre-existing health condition and your licensed medical/health professional is recommending or prescribing certain restrictions, foods, medications, or supplements, the below checklist is not for you! Please consult with your licensed healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet.

Here is a quick cheat-sheet to help you spot a restrictive fad diet:

1. Is calorie or food restriction a part of it?

Is it asking you to cut out certain food groups, ingredients, meals, or snacks, or asking you to eat a certain number of calories (which is likely low)?

2. Does it require a lot of sacrifice?

For example, are family gatherings and social events going to be impossible to navigate with the new plan?

3. Is it actually sustainable?

Or is it so restrictive, uncomfortable, and incompatible with your lifestyle that there is no way you’ll be able to keep it going for longer than a few weeks?

4. Is a timeline a part of it?

In other words, is it promising some sort of quick-fix or quickie weight loss?

5. Do you have to buy a special food or supplement?

Does it require you to spend money on something very specific in order for you to “succeed” in that plan?

If the answer to one or more of the above questions is yes, then chances are that it’s a restrictive fad diet. Does that mean all dietary changes are inherently bad or restrictive? Heck no! You can absolutely make changes that promote health.

How can you do that?

1. Make small changes that fit into your routine
2. Choose nourishing foods that align with your taste preferences, culture, budget, and lifestyle

At the end of the day, all bodies and minds are different and the goal should be to find out what works best for YOU.

Stay nourished my friends,


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