When fad diets fail, make them better

Lyndsie Yamrus, Assistant Opinion Editor

I’ve always thought that fad diets were ridiculous, and that people who went on diets were cheating. “Exercise and eating right” are what health experts and nutritionists have been chanting since the beginning of time, and I’ve always agreed. We all know that the science of losing weight is essentially to burn more calories than you take in, and these two golden weight-loss terms are what make the pounds drop.
That means an increase in fruits and vegetables, and the more the better. It’s also all about the whole grains now. Anything refined is out of the question, like white rice and white bread. Healthy proteins like fish, beans, poultry and nuts should be consumed most of the time, rather than red meat, cold cuts or processed meats. You should also say goodbye to butter, bacon and mayo, among many other things that taste good.
As for exercise, the Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Aerobic activities (AKA cardio) such as the treadmill, elliptical or Stairmaster are essential. Don’t forget to kick up the incline and/or resistance.
I can see why most individuals have a very hard time even getting motivated to start losing weight, let alone beginning the process. The problem is that most individuals want to see results quickly, and since the traditional method takes a good amount of time, people turn to fad diets.
Studies show that fad diets fail between 95 and 99 percent of the time, but I couldn’t understand why, so I browsed all of the known diets. Some of them are crazy. Eating cookies to lose weight? Ice cream? Zero-calorie diets? They all sound way too good to be true.
First, I found the Special K Challenge. To me, it actually looks fun. The idea is that if you replace two out of three of your normal meals with Special K cereal, protein shakes or protein meal bars, and you replace all other snacks with Special K snacks (i.e. fruit crisps, cracker chips), you will drop a jean size in two weeks. The third “sensible” meal is chosen by the dieter and can be eaten at any time. You can also eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want and drink as you normally do.
Special K offers a variety of delicious-looking flavors for all of their products, which can be easily found at your nearby grocery store.  The Special K also website is user friendly and helps you stay organized so that you can reach your goal.
Then I found the Grapefruit diet, which sounds pretty ridiculous. Besides eating half of a grapefruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the rules include mandatorily eating bacon for breakfast, slopping butter on your veggies and eating until you are “stuffed” because “the more food you eat, the more weight you will lose.”
Okay, so clearly “The Rules” are why the diet is so controversial. But whoever came up with the Grapefruit Diet was on the right track. We all could use more fruit in our diets, and while grapefruits are highly nutritious (low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium; good source of fiber and vitamins A and C), any fruit would work. So maybe if we modify The Grapefruit Diet a little bit, perhaps ditching the bacon, limiting the butter and generally cutting-back, plus eating a different fruit each day, losing weight would be easier.
The problem is that fad diets are set up all wrong. You shouldn’t have to binge on one food or food group and completely leave out another. You shouldn’t have to order your food from some warehouse somewhere, like you do on the Nutrisystem diet. You shouldn’t have to starve yourself either. Diets fail because they do not realistically fit into everyone’s lifestyles. They are not “one size fits all”, either. So maybe if you alter an existing diet or come up with a fun way to tackle it, you might get somewhere. Just stick with it once you start, do your best, and have a good attitude.