Let's go with : Extremely wary of
Not all formal diets are bad. It would be wrong of me to lump them all together since they're so different. One thing that I'm a little suspicious of is that most "diets" have some kind of cost attached.
Beware! Many are really pricey and promise huge results really quickly. Why wouldn't I be suspicious?! Deep down, we all know that the only way to really achieve success is to control the food we're putting in. If they're claiming that you don't need to change the way you eat or your activity level... that should be a huge red flag.
I get that there are pills out there that are (a) prescribed by doctors as a weight loss aide, (b) pills over the counter that supposedly help boost metabolism, and (c) over the counter appetite suppressants. Those are maybe justifiable if you're really overweight and using them to kick start the loss AND pairing them with healthy diet and exercise changes. Maybe.
Weigh Loss Shakes:
Ew. I've tried them on a few occasions and they're yucky. I have a vague memory of trying them in high school, not that I was big or anything.... so I'm not sure why I did it. One thing about them is that they definitely leave something to be desired- and I, personally, wound up snacking hardcore. They taste like chalk. It's so much more delicious to throw some fruit/veggies/yogurt into a blender and make it at home. The combo of protein powder, yogurt, and strawberries (+ whatever else you want in there) is really filling. Make that and never look back.
Meh... could be worse. I'm about 10 pages into the first Zone book, I know some people who more-or-less swear by the Zone, and I'm a little suspicious, but not overly concerned. For example, I hear a lot about the glycemic index of certain foods; but get a little suspicious that crackers are ok, but carrots are something to be cautious of. I don't care about the crackers going in, I'm more a interested in why there aren't more vegetables going down the hatch. Hence, the reason why I'm going to finish reading the book.
Same applies to other book-based diets: Atkins, South Beach. I'm inherently wary of anything that tells you to completely cut out any one kind of food. That is just not sustainable. It leads to secret snacking, which leads to shame, which leads to stress eating... No bueno.
Could be worse, but proceed with caution! A few things:
(a) Some of them are attached to a diet franchise like the Zone, Atkins, Slim Fast, etc... Let's stop and think about this for a second. This book/program you purchased is a company -- they want to sell you something -- they want to keep selling you something so their business can continue to survive and grow. With me? What motives does this multi billion dollar company have to help you get to your goals? NONE. Because if you succeed, you'll pull away and they'll lose your business. I'm not saying that there is full-blown sabotage here, but just let that sink in.
(b) WTF is in them?! Look at the ingredient list. I'm fine looking at labels and not understanding 1 or 2 ingredients, but flip over a "diet" bar and good luck reading that.
(c) Many claim to be fortified with vitamins and minerals. Ok, fine. But why are you so deficient in the natural forms of those nutrients that you need to get it from an overly processed bar?
Stay tuned for a post about the "good" nutrition bars!
I think Weight Watchers is the least of the evils for sure. If someone wants to lose weight and get healthy, WW can be a fantastic starting point for them. Yes, they're a business and making money off you. However, they offer an invaluable support system of coaches and peers-- those can be huge when you're feeling vulnerable. Without overtly saying it, WW is sorta treating their program like an addiction program- and I think that's great. Food addiction is a real problem, and support from people who have broken their cycle of food abuse is a great example for those who want to make changes.
Now, I'm generally against frozen dinners and stringent calorie counting. You know you should be eating fresh foods and steering clear of too many overly processed foods. Using Weight Watchers to get yourself to a point where you think "Ok, I can do this" is great. At a point, I think that once certain confidence levels have been reached, maybe moving on from WW would be wise. You've got the tools and the confidence; you know you can do it and striking out on our own would just prove that point. Ya know? Eventually, you're going to need to give up paying for WW..... or you're going to go on vacation or move-- knowing how to handle your eating and practicing self-control, I believe are huge contributing factors in long-term success
There are a lot of other "diets" out there. Be very wary of what they're trying to sell you. Some have great principles behind them, but ultimately, they are a business and they want to sell you something. Take what you need from them, and then let your intuition take over from there. You know you should be eating cucumbers over chips and apples over muffins. You've got this! Change is uncomfortable, but absolutely doable and sustainable.
Let's sum it up:
(1) Deep down, we all know what we should and should not be eating.
(2) The "diet" industry doesn't really have any investment in your success- they want to keep their business going. (Why don't you take the money you're investing in books, bars, and meetings and invest it in a local farmer?)
(3) Looking for quick results can't lead to anything good (addiction to diet pills, unhealthy eating patterns, nutritional imbalance, etc...)