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Month for 'fad-free' eating

Health advice column

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POSTED: April 5, 2007 5:15 a.m.
During National Nutrition Month, consumers are encouraged to go 100 percent fad-free and achieve lifelong success through proven, science-based approaches to healthy eating.
The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed choices and developing sound eating and exercise habits.
Fad diets have been around for hundreds of years with the earliest known made popular by Lord Byron in 1820. His vinegar and water diet was used extensively by many English men and women. It’s amazing what people will do to look better, as evident by the 1910 Inuit meat and fat diet which recommended daily intake of only caribou, raw fish and whale blubber.
Few diets have had the same following as the cabbage soup diet. Originally created in 1950, it has resurfaced several times and been extremely popular even though flatulence is a frequent side effect. This diet, like many others, can’t really cause the body to burn fat. No foods can do that although some foods with caffeine may speed up your metabolism (the way your body uses energy or calories) for a short time, but they do not cause weight loss.
Some diets, such as the 1961 Calories Don’t Count Diet, have even resulted in the FDA filing charges regarding claims. And then there was the Caveman Diet in 1985 that required only foods from the Paleolithic Era. Wouldn’t that be good eating?
Many people get confused with all the fad diets, diet drinks, energy bars and convenience foods being advertised as “the answer” for busy, nutriment deficient or overweight people.
Exaggerated claims that eating or eliminating specific foods, supplements or combinations of foods may cure disease, offer quick weight loss or produce a fantastic physique should help you recognize a fad. If it sounds too good to be true, it is!  Unfortunately, misinformation on food and nutrition can have harmful effects on your health as well as on your pocket book. The key principles of good nutrition remain:
• Eat regular meals and snacks,
• Include at least five servings of fruit or vegetables per day,
• Include two servings of milk per day,
• Eat high fiber foods,
• Limit fats and sweets
• Drink alcohol only in moderation, and
• Eliminate all tobacco products
Next time you fix your plate, or that of a family member, use this general rule of thumb: Plant foods should cover two-thirds (or more) of the plate. Fish, poultry, meat or low fat dairy products should cover one-third (or less). Plant foods should include one or more vegetables or fruits in addition to whole grain products like brown rice, kasha, whole wheat bread or pasta.
It is also important to create a plan that balances nutritional intake with regular activity. This is important for your overall health and fitness plus it helps control body weight and promotes wellbeing.
 

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