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A Guide To... Fad Diets

Laura Scott can spot a fad diet a mile off. She can also spot a cake...

Written by . Published on September 29th 2011.

A Guide To... Fad Diets

HANDS up if you’ve ever been on/are on a diet.

No need to be shy, one in three women are on a diet at any point in a year, closely followed by one in five men, so unless you’re reading this being ultra careful that your wrists don’t snap as you scroll down the screen, you’ll be part of that statistic.

Size clearly does matter, but when did we all get so vain?

If you cheat, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s okay to have a day off. Even more so when its 2 for 1 at Pizza Express.

Prise your fingers away from glossy magazines featuring the latest soapstar who’s gained three pounds (yawn) and take a look around you.

We’re in a national crisis in terms of the rise in obesity levels, and yet there’s umpteen franchises of McDonald’s lurking on every corner and fruit and veg costs the earth (no pun intended).

The chocolate dietThe chocolate diet

When was the last time you went to the gym you pay £40 a month for? Direct debits are out of sight, out of mind and so is the gym.

Diets are no good either. I’m happy to splurge on some on-trend loafers but I refuse to shell out on a diet that comes with three digit price tag where the chances of you sticking to it are about as likely as you paying the money back. And all this because Kelly-from-work’s-second-cousin tried it and lost half a stone in a week.
The thing with diets is this: we’re lured in through crafty marketing and colourful packaging with Sue’s success story on the back and jump straight on the bandwagon with no second thought.

A week later you’re creeping out of bed at 2am to snack on a titbit of cheese and ham which “doesn’t class as cheating because there are no carbs in”. Before you ask, the cheese doesn’t count as it weighed less than 10g.

Number one, if you’re eating rather than sleeping at that time, you should know it’s not quite working. Number two, if you’ve got the time to be weighing out your cheese at that time, you really need to get out more.

That said, one of the diet myths I found was that the whole “you must eat before 7pm to let your food digest” malarkey is utter bobbins; as long as what you’re eating - regardless of the hour – is low in calories, you’re good to go. That’s not to say that eating a kebab after a night out is an exception. It isn’t.

The 'spell words with your food' dietThe 'spell words with your food' diet
There’s a gazillion diets out there. One that caught my eye (as I’m sure it will yours) is the All You Can Eat diet, which has you envisaging row upon row of Chinese food I’m sure.

Quite the opposite in fact. It’s all the fruit you can eat (excluding bananas, as clearly they are so unhealthy). Bit gutted? Thought so - I was too. On the plus side you can eat all the veg you want. So it’s back to your place for the party.

There’s Celebrity Slim, the meal replacement diet - though what really is celebrity about having to lug around an unsightly shaking device? The price on the other hand, is very much celebrity: £35 per week for ten ‘meal replacement’ shakes. And then add an all the extra ‘snacks’ that’d potentially buy you the majority of Greggs.

Of course, there’s always the Chocolate Diet, however don’t be fooled, like the All You Can Eat. You need to read the small print, and in this case, you can have chocolate, providing it’s a teeny 1oz. So unless Cadbury’s greatly reduce the sizing of their Fruit & Nut bars, there’s a (slight) chance I’ll still end up eating the whole thing.

There's a gazillion diets out thereThere's a gazillion diets out there
The common denominator in all these fad diets is you can eat a bit of everything, but in moderation. So here’s how to get you through it:

- Start telling yourself that you’re dieting and you’re already on the road to caving in to the first Nando’s you pass. Temptation is all psychological - think of it as a lifestyle change rather than a (groan) diet where bananas are actually allowed (should a cake be the alternative.)

- Keep track of calories, fat percentages, sugar, salt etc in what you’re eating. It’s there for a reason and just because a cereal bar seems the healthier choice, often it’s not. A moment on the lips and all that.

- Hydration is key; it fills you up, keeps the hunger rumbles at bay and won’t bring back the remnants of your teenage spots like a can of fizz will. Drink water.

- If you cheat, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s okay to have a day off. Even more so when its 2 for 1 at Pizza Express.

- Factor in some exercise and Bob’s your uncle, even if it is just dusting off the Wii Fit. It still counts.

Now forget all the celebrity nonsense - its okay to only bring out your cooking scales when you’re baking (low calorie) buns. A simple smile and nod is suffice when being told the latest diet ‘success’ story. Just don’t be running off and jumping on that bandwagon.

And remember, there’s more to life than being skinny and skint or loaded and lardy. Find that happy medium so you can have your cake and eat it too.

Follow Laura on Twitter @laursco

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AnonymousOctober 3rd 2011.

Loving how the email newsletter linking to this article has a big advertising banner for a "lose a stone in 2 weeks" diet!!

Grayshott SpaNovember 8th 2011.

Love this post. Fad diets never seem to work and I think the old advice your granny would have given you is best. Our nutritionist gives more tips here: www.grayshottspalife.com/…/…

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