Nutrition: Backing Off Fad Diets, by Julie Daniluk

The recent book, ‘Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends’ is a dangerous example of a long list of fad diets that are downright bad for your health. Any diet book that recommends diet coke over broccoli can’t be taken seriously, yet there is a vulnerable part of our population that could be influenced.

The author, who goes by the name Venice A. Fulton, claims the book is not directed at teenage girls, but in the opening paragraph he states, “The medical community think you shouldn’t read this book. Your parents might think you shouldn’t read this book. Perhaps even your friends think you shouldn’t read this book…”

I cannot see how this statement is directed at anyone but a vulnerable teenage girl who is struggling with her weight.

Here are just a few examples of why Fulton’s advice is seriously flawed.

Problem #1 – “Lie in a cold bath for up to 15 minutes every morning.
Using a quick cold rinse after a warm shower is a time-honoured yoga technique, and a quick dip in a cold pool after a hot sauna is a wonderful Nordic tradition, but a 15-minute cold bath every morning could cause a serious problem with a person’s immune system. There are many conditions in which your body temperature needs to stay stable or bacteria can get the upper hand.

Problem #2 – “The secret to being skinny is not eating breakfast – or at least not eating your first meal of the day until you’ve done 30 to 60 minutes of active exercise.”
I see this method backfiring! There is evidence to support that working out on an empty stomach gets faster results but if you have unbalanced blood sugar then this could be dangerous! You are setting yourself up for mood swings and cravings all day long!

If you suffer from hypoglycemia, poor liver or kidney health or type 2 diabetes, you will feel miserable and extremely ill if you try to manage the first hours at school or work on an empty stomach. If you happen to suffer from PMS, skipping a meal may cause you to commit a crime against your boyfriend!

Problem #3 – “Carbohydrates should be limited to the visual equivalent of 4 iPhones.” (This is the point in the book where broccoli is compared to Coke.)
His quote: “Many people seem to manage perfectly well on a diet of fizzy drinks but most of us need to care about the quality of our carbohydrates.”

The trouble with using the size of an iPhone to measure the carbohydrate level in a food is that the size of one food will contain a dramatically different amount of carbohydrates than another. Technically celery is a carbohydrate but you need to eat 10 whole sticks of celery – an entire head (an impossible amount) – to equal the same amount of carbohydrates in an apple. Visual cues for carbohydrates are not possible because not all carbohydrates are created equal.

Problem #4 – “Fruit has high levels of sugar, so eat it sparingly, and definitely not in liquid form.”
Some fruit, like berries, are low in sugar and an important tool in managing cravings while you diet. If you take all sweetness out of a person’s diet, you risk them binging on poor quality sugar choices when the pressure gets too high. Avoiding carbohydrate sets people up to fail. Once they fall off the diet, they feel lower self-esteem for their lack of willpower.
Many fruits contain powerful antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients and micronutrients that should be a part of a healthy meal plan.

The biggest question I have about this book is “Where’s the science?” Any argument or theory can be supported by a few random ‘studies’, but in order to make such outlandish claims such as “Skipping breakfast can be healthy”, an author better have some hardcore, long-term, peer-reviewed studies to back them up.

I want folks to move away from crash diets and back to something they can live on! LIVE-IT vs Diet.

Julie Daniluk, RHN, hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition by using unique groups such as bikers, dragon boat racers and ballroom dancers to challenge their taste buds with nutritious foods. Julie is excited that her show was chosen to be part of OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network). Similar to Oprah’s book club, programs on OWN explore stories of strength and transformation. Television viewers also recognize Julie from her “busted” segments on The Right Fit (W Network) and The Marilyn Dennis Show (CTV) where she examines the foods people need to stay healthy, acting as a nutrition encyclopedia. Her fun and engaging style comes in handy when she creates a recipe a week that is packed with health tips for www.chatelaine.com. Her new book Meals That Heal Inflammation is available in stores now.