In this internet-driven, get-rich-quick world we live in, it can be tempting to fall for a fad diet that promises HUGE WEIGHT LOSS with NO EXERCISE NECESSARY! And though these fad diets are quite often ineffective (and potentially dangerous), many take the bait.
But pregnancy is definitely not a time to be dieting, and quick weight loss is a big no-no at this time too. Still, as bad as they can be for your health, even the worst fad diets have a small silver lining of wisdom in them. Here are five of the most popular fad diets in the US in the past year, and a positive lesson you can take away from them.
The Five-Bite Diet
- The rules: With this diet, you skip breakfast completely. For lunch and dinner, you can eat whatever you want, but you can only have five bites of it. You’re allowed to drink whatever you want, provided it doesn’t have calories. You’re supposed to also get protein in your five bites, and take a multivitamin.
- What’s bad: First off, everyone should eat breakfast. And in one day on this diet, you’ll only get anywhere from 800-1000 calories a day, which depending on your BMI is about 1,000 calories short, even if you aren’t pregnant. This leads to dramatic weight loss and then extreme hunger. Five bites of any food isn’t a good way to get the nutrients that you need, and neither is a multivitamin on its own.
- What’s better: Eat balanced meals throughout the day, and whenever you feel a pregnancy craving coming on, try eating only 5 bites of that.
The Blood Type Diet
- The rules: This diet claims that your blood type determines how your body reacts to food, fights disease, and reacts to stress. There are a variety of blood types, and no universal healthy diet that everyone should adopt – instead you should choose meals based on your blood type. Type A’s should eat vegetarian diets, Type B’s should avoid wheat, Type AB should avoid corn and legumes, and Type O should get a lot of protein but only a little wheat.
- What’s bad: While your blood type can indicate things like your risk of diabetes, there’s no evidence whatsoever to show that it influences your weight and how you react to a specific food.
- What’s better: It’s true that not one diet is good for everyone. But people probably lost weight on the blood type diet simply because the guides were healthy. It’s not a bad idea to lower your consumption of meat, corn, wheat, and even legumes if you find them inflammatory, and eating less of these foods could lead to more vegetable consumption. This goes for everyone, regardless of blood type!
The Raw Food Diet
- The rules: Proponents of this diet believe valuable enzymes are lost in the cooking process, so it’s best to consume only unprocessed, whole, plant-based foods each day. About ¾ of your food should be uncooked food – for some people, this includes meat and animal products.
- What’s bad: Eating uncooked milk, meat, eggs, and even some plants is never a really good idea. You’re taking a risk of exposing your body to microorganisms that, depending on the process, may now be in the food.
- What’s better: Instead of cutting out huge groups of food, try to eat fresher, simpler meals – this helps reduce your intake of preservatives and extra additives, sauces, glazes, or syrups. Prepared foods are also not allowed in this diet, and avoiding prepared foods can help keep your sodium low. And if cooking vegetables is what makes them tasty to you, go ahead and cook them.
The Alkaline Diet
- The rules: According to this diet, the standard American diet contains too many acidic products. Fruits and vegetables contain alkaline, which reduces the acid load in your body once you eat acidic food. This diet emphasizes foods that are high in alkaline, like almonds, tofu, chestnuts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, apples, lettuce, bananas, oranges, ginger, and sea salt, among others.
- What’s bad: The diet is extremely restrictive, and even if you only eat the foods above, your body will still have the final say in its pH balance.
- What’s better: Don’t focus so much on ‘acidic foods’ as you do on avoiding sugar, caffeine, and processed foods – food groups that the alkaline diet doesn’t allow, and definitely things that you’ll want to keep an eye on during pregnancy.
The Cookie Diet
- The rules: People on this diet snack throughout the day on low-calorie, ‘secret formula’ cookies that they order in the mail. Dieters end the day with a small, homemade dinner.
- What’s bad: Despite what you might think, snacking on cookies for a week straight gets really boring. And even though the cookies have some fortification in them, they’re not a reliable source of vitamins and minerals. Eating a single food for the entire day isn’t nutritious either.
- What’s better: If you’re craving a cookie, eat a cookie. Otherwise, try to eat a balanced diet and get nutrients from a diverse range of foods that you enjoy.
As you can see, fad diets function in extremes, but real life isn’t so black and white. During pregnancy, you’ll surely experience cravings while trying to stay healthy. Instead of trying to follow a rigid agenda of what you can and can’t eat, figure out what works for you and focus on getting your nutrition in ways that you enjoy.
- “Ch. 17: Nutrition During Pregnancy.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Apr 2015. Web.
- Heli J Roy. “Fad Diets Explained.” PBRC. Pub No 89 from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Oct 2011. Web.
- K Aleisha Fetters. “Dubious diets.” Health. Health Media Ventures Inc., 2017. Web.
- “14 Keys to a Healthy Diet.” BerkeleyWellness. UCB School of Public Health, Remedy Health Media, LLC., 2017. Web.