Fad Diets? Forget it! Lifelong Portion Control
by Healthy Homestead Team
2 months ago
What are fad diets? They are an eating plan that becomes popular quickly, as fad diets promise dramatic and unrealistic weight loss results. Fad diets are designed to take advantage of your willingness to try anything to lose weight. And when you have an important event coming soon, like, a wedding, you are willing to shed 10 pounds in a week, without thinking about the health ramifications. Now, every once in a while, fad diets might be acceptable for such big events. But in the long run, fad diets are too dangerous to even sniff at them.
Why are fad diets becoming popular and how to recognize them?
The main reason fad diets are popular is because they produce short-term weight loss results in a quick manner. Who wouldn’t love to shed 10 pounds of his belly in just one week? Right?
However, what they do lack is a long-term success. It is only understandable that you would love to get quick results. It is hard and challenging to go through a long and vigorous regime of diet and exercise to shed those extra pounds. But in general, it is best to avoid weight loss programs like fad diets that promise quick results. Here are some tips on how to recognize them and avoid them:
- Promise to help you lose more than 2 pounds per week
- Sounds too good to be true, as they make unrealistic promises. For example, lose weight without giving up high-carb and high-calorie foods. Or lose weight without breaking a sweat
- There are often “before and after photos” that support the claim. You will also see a lot of testimonials from clients and experts who are paid to endorse the plan
- Limits your food choices and discourages balanced nutrition
- In some cases, you are asked to purchase meal plans, packaged meals, or supplements
In the past several years, we’ve seen a lot of fad diets gaining popularity overnight. Some of them can have adverse health effects and can be dangerous to your health. Some examples include the 3-day diet, 5 bite diet, 17-day diet, air diet, apple cider vinegar diet, cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, the Dukan diet, lemon detox diet, Atkins diet, ketogenic diet, the zone diet, and the list goes on.
Why should fad diets be approached with caution?
Fad diets essentially help you lose weight fast, but that weight will quickly come back as soon as you are back to your old eating habits. That is the biggest disadvantage of fad diets, as you are not getting long-term results and you are not supporting healthy lifestyles. With that in mind, here are some quick thoughts on why fad diets are bad.
- They do not teach you good and sustainable eating habits that last a lifetime
- You regain as much as one-third of the weight you lost within one year, and most of it within three years
- They can be nutritionally lacking, as they cut out entire food groups
- Due to the nutritional deficiencies, you might experience health issues like hair and muscle loss
- Your natural metabolism gets disrupted in a bad way
- Last, but not least, you are knowingly depriving your body of minerals and vitamins, and that will essentially come to haunt you
How Portion Control can help you lose weight
Your stomach is not large physically. An unstretched human stomach can hold about 2 cups of food. But since your stomach can and will stretch, it can hold more food than you need at a given meal.
Portion control helps you eat just the right amount of food you need, nothing more, and nothing less. The hard part is learning what a portion size actually is. Eating that amount is the tricky part. We are notoriously bad at estimating what a good portion is. For example, a cup of breakfast cereal is not the same amount for different people.
In the past several years, food servings have grown larger and larger. In fast-food restaurants, it is normal to find supersized meals. But the problem is, we start doing that at home. According to multiple studies, in the past 40 years, portion sizes of hamburgers, French fries, ice cream, cookies, burritos, tacos, and salty snacks have increased.
How does a healthy serving look like? Let’s give you some basic ideas:
- An ounce of meat is about the same as the size of your thumb
- A cup of fruit is no larger than your fist
- A cup of vegetables is also the size of your fist
- An ounce of cheese is the same as the size of your thumb
- 3 ounces of meat, poultry or fish is the normal serving. It should be about the size of your palm
- 1 ounce of nuts equals your cupped hand
Learning the correct serving size is the first step in the portion control diet. Simply put, portion control is limiting what you eat, but in terms of size and amount.
Strategies for portion control
As we said previously, the tricky and challenging part is finding out the portion size. Once you have that settled, it is all about implementing and following strategies that will help you succeed in your goal of portion controlling your meals. Here are a couple of strategies that work.
Variety is key
You need to eat a variety of food. Make sure that your diet includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, but also good fats like omega-3 fats. Unlike a fad diet, portion control does not support excluding necessary nutrients. And in order to satisfy your hunger, you need a balanced dish and variety in your meals.
Fruits and vegetables
Speaking of fruits and vegetables, one benefit of portion control is that it puts a huge emphasis on healthy eating. That means a lot of fruits and vegetables. How many fruits and vegetables you consume on a daily basis depends on age, sex, and activity level. A good rule of thumb is 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day, and 2 servings of fruits per day. That is for healthy and active adults.
Another easy way to get your fruit and vegetables, while also helping to lower your calorie intake is to replace a meal with a vegetable juice. If you don't have time to juice, flash frozen organic juices shipped directly to your door is a good idea.
Smaller, but more frequent meals
You do not want to overeat, but you also do not want to be hungry. One of the main principles of portion control is to eat smaller meals more frequently. You should aim for five to six smaller meals per day. Space them between 3 to 4 hours, and you will be sure you will never be hungry. If you work in an office, or you go to school, you can consume some whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese as a snack, or a tablespoon of peanut butter with a slice of whole-grain bread. These strategies will help you satisfy your satiety during the entire day. No longer craving unhealthy snacks during the workday.
Change your dish-ware
Because you want to eat smaller portions, you want smaller dishware as well. No point in putting large plates on the table that will look empty. Instead, pick out smaller plates, cups, and bowls. Measure what they hold, and find some that are suitable for your portion control meals and dishes.
What about when going out?
When you are eating out, you still want to control portions. For example, eat half or share the meal with a friend. When you order a salad, ask for dressing on the side. First, dip the fork into the dressing, and then into the salad.
Picking the right foods
While portion control reduces the size of your meal, the strategy also helps you clean out bad foods and empty calories of your kitchen, and introduce the good stuff. Bad fats include saturated fats and trans fats, usually found in fast-food and junk food. What you want to do is fill up on the good stuff, like green beans, broccoli, kale, and similar low-calorie vegetables.
Listen to your hunger cues
If you are still hungry after a meal, get some veggies, not desserts. Yes, you should eat when you are hungry, but also stop when you are satisfied or comfortably full. Nutrition experts recommend stopping when you are 80% full. Remember, there is always more food at the next meal or snack.
Remember, “Rome was not built in a day”. When you want to transform your unhealthy diet, there is no overnight or quick solution. That is why you want to think twice about fad diets. You are not alone as many people find it difficult to implement change. Commit to 21 days and then it will be habit!
What you should/can do is start implementing some of the ideas and strategies for portion control we mentioned. You can even start with just one at a time. Every change you make is a big step in the right direction!