Fad diets and the decline of the American diet
Most Americans simply want to lose weight, but some aspire to be healthier as well. For either goal or both goals, many Americans have lost confidence in government guidelines and have begun to look for other diets to follow. In the absence of sound advice from the government, many have turned elsewhere for ways to lose weight or to improve their health.
This has led to waves of diet fads, diets that rise and fall in popularity. These are some of the more popular diets:
- The Pritikin diet
- The Atkins diet
- The Gluten Free diet
- The South Beach diet
- The Mediterranean diet
- Weight Watchers
- The Zone Diet
- Raw Food Diet
- Macrobiotic Diet
- The Paleo Diet
Many of the diets have been designed and championed by doctors.
The Pritikin diet basically echoes government recommendations, with less meat. The South Beach diet is very similar, with fewer carbs and more lean meats like fish and poultry. The Atkins diet is a protein-based weight loss plan that is low in nutrition and very unhealthy. It has been called a nutritionist’s nightmare. The gluten free diet works best if there is a reason for one to avoid gluten. Otherwise, unless one cuts back on carbs, it is unlikely to be beneficial to anyone trying to lose weight. Weight Watchers stresses eat what you want but in moderation and constantly count calories.
The Mediterranean diet is a seafood, wine, veggie, and whole grain weight loss plan similar to South Beach. The Zone diet suggests a rigid focus on macronutrients in regards to protein, carbs, and fat. Nutrisystem is the ultimate have someone else do it for you plan with all meals pre made and pre measured. Volumetrics promotes a focus on fruits and vegetables. Because of their fiber content, they make you feel more full. The raw food diet allows for unlimited raw vegan food.
These were among the most popular diets. Many diet fads were highly restrictive, absurd, dangerous, and downright scary like the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, the vinegar diet, and the liquid diet. Other approaches included the T.V. frozen dinner diet and even a Twinkie diet. The most dangerous and harmful diets were the diets that weren’t even based on food like the cigarette diet (whenever you’re hungry, just smoke), the eat sweets before a meal diet, or, even more crazy, the tapeworm diet, the baby food diet (substitute some of your meals with baby food), and worst of all the cotton ball diet, which recommended that you actually eat cotton balls dipped in juice. This is a choking hazard and can cause intestinal blockages, both of which can kill you. It was crazy, but these were all diets were practiced by some Americans.
Despite the variety of diets, popular and obscure, safe and dangerous, on average, Americans are fatter than ever before. Most Americans eat slightly less red meat and eat more lean meat, but they eat more sugar and more highly processed and refined foods. The CDC predicts that by 2030 up to 42% of the U.S. population will be obese, and 11% will be severely obese.
Experts do not agree on the health effect of grains and sweets. In Georgia, the only cereals WIC will pay for are cereals that contain some kind of sugar – corn sugar, sugar cane, or sugar from beets. Fruit juice sweetened and unsweetened cereals are considered health food and are not eligible for purchase under the program.
Over time, some foods have gone up in demand, while others have fallen in popularity. Sugar consumption from sugar cane has dropped 35% while corn based sweeteners (mostly high fructose corn syrup) consumption has risen by 8,853%. It’s not that Americans choose to eat corn syrup, they choose to eat processed foods, and high fructose corn syrup is added to nearly every processed food.
The current government guidelines are only a little different than the original food pyramid. The current recommendations are still high in grains, but the recommendation for fruits and vegetables is higher.
A full 80% of your diet should consist of raw, fresh, organic produce – more vegetables than fruits. Meats should be organic. Nuts and seeds should be soaked or sprouted. Grains should be limited and gluten should be avoided if any illness is present. Dairy should be organic and raw or limited. Omega 3 fatty acids from flax seed oil, fish oil, or a blended oil and oily fish should be added to your diet. Clean water is also essential.
You should avoid all artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives; MSG; high fructose corn syrup; trans fats; and GMOs. Seriously limit or eliminate all processed sugar.
For more information about a truly healthy diet, read the 80% Raw Food Diet. To boost your nutrition with increased vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, learn how to make your own Total Nutrition Powder.
About the author:
Joel learned long ago that pharmaceuticals were not the answer to health and vitality. He gave up on pharmaceuticals many years ago, and he also gave up wheat and refined sugars. His hobbies include gluten free baking, gardening, and fitness. Joel is passionate about agriculture and environmental issues. Joel believes that progressive, cutting-edge, organic agriculture can feed the world.