Fad Diets – why do we do them?

Last night I went for a run.  I didn’t particularly want to, I’ve been a bit rubbish on the old food and drink after my upbeat post the other day. So the guilt of that, combined with the fact that it was nearly bath time, and I’d lost any remaining self respect by hoovering up the additional remaining Smilie Faces from the kids dinner,  meant that I grudgingly pulled on my kit, opened up run keeper and went for a quick run around the block

Because it’s only my second run since the 10k, I’m back to square one of wanting to die, but with the added frustration of KNOWING I can do better.

While I was running up the road approx. 1.8miles in (average pace 9 minutes 35 seconds – poor), I was beating myself up about being lazy, trying to focus (and failing) on my music (even changing Cheryl’s words to “I’ve got to fight fight fight fight fight for this bum” wasn’t doing the trick) and wishing I’d brought my water bottle, I wished, for probably the 100 millionth time, that I could find a quick fix.

I’m not good at the whole fad diet, although I am unfortunately one of those people who go in hunt for them.  I would have considered the baby food diet however the smell of baby food in jars makes me feel physically sick, Atkins& Zone appealed, and although I’m a terrible sick person, I’m actually quite pleased when I catch a stomach bug – every cloud and all that.

Then I got to thinking about the diet I’d read about in an old Look Magazine whilst at the hairdressers last week.   The Ketogenic Diet.


Normally I’d have read the article, as I do with anything that says “diet”, and would have shaken my head at the thought of somebody actually doing it, without really knowing the ins and outs properly.  After all, you’re never really know the full ins and outs until you look into it seriously.  Even then sometimes I worry people don’t do that.

However, I know a teensy bit about this diet due to a friend I’ve made on twitter, and her amazing little boy Sam.

Sam suffers from a rare condition called ARX, and after months deliberation he has recently gone onto the Ketogenic Diet, and is currently in the fairly early stages of it.

The Ketogenic diet is a high fat and protein but low carbohydrate diet that is used to treat difficult to control epilepsy in children. The diet mimics aspects of starvation by forcing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.  The signs are looking good, especially on the seizure front, and I hope to goodness it stays positive.

Knowing this, knowing a little bit of what is entailed, not just the tube bit, the actually proper shit.  I got scared.  Scared for the woman who actually felt she needed to do that diet, to go ahead with something so extreme, to live with something like that just to lose weight.

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image recently, about self confidence and believing in yourself, and this article just kick started me into the next level.  At 41 couldn’t Jessica have taken a more grown up approach?  She’s not a silly young girl who doesn’t understand the risks.  She’s a grown woman. WHAT impacted her that much, that 10lbs made her chose that.  Had she tried other diets?

I know I bang on about my weight, I know I’m not particularly huge, but I’m still not happy, but what am I not happy about.  What are we all not happy about?  When we look at ourselves in the mirror and decide we don’t like ourselves do we not like ourselves because WE don’t like ourselves, or, in the society where we appear to be so judgemental of others, are we scared people will judge us for a little bit of overhang over the top of our jeans, do we think people at the beach are looking at us and laughing, nudging each other and saying “look at those thighs rub together”.

I’m not saying I don’t comment.  I’m not guilt free, I’ve been known to gasp and comment on the huge woman wearing a white thong walking along the band of restaurants in front of the beach without a care in the world.  Some of it may be envy, not of how she looks, I don’t think that was healthy, or appropriate for that matter (no matter how hot you are, thongs and restaurants are not ok, ok?), but I wonder if her self assurance, her ability not to give a toss gave me a subconcious nudge.

I’m keen to see what people do to lose weight.  What diets have/you partake in.  Are they sensible? If they’re not good for you do you KNOW this?  Do you research them before hand, or do you discover that Jennifer Aniston is on it and hop on board too, ignoring the fact she also has a personal trainer, a chef, and a totally different life style?

Have you considered plastic surgery?  If so, what would you have done? Would you REALLY have it done?  Why?

I have a feeling this is the first in a long line of body image, self confidence posts coming up.


  1. Helen (QueenofBiscuits on twitter)

    You need to find an exercise you actually enjoy, that you want to do, that you chomp at the bit to do. I have been giving out this bit of advice for YEARS, yet have only just started following it myself. Since deciding to just concentrate on strength training about 3 months ago I haven’t wanted to miss a session. I drive to the gym with a smile on my face and leave with a smile on my face, a feeling I never got with running, or cycling etc. Now I am not saying strength training is for you but I get the feeling you run because you think you should rather than because you want to.

    Yes I would have plastic surgery, I would have my boobs done. Not Jordanesque just respectable B or C as A&E have destroyed what little I had.

    1. Post

      I actually do enjoy running, after I’ve got passed the 3 mile mark. The thing I don’t enjoy is not being there straight away. I dislike the feeling of failure when I can only hit the one and 2 mile mark. Amazingly I find my stride after 3 miles, and I can start to clear my head and enjoy myself again.

      It’s a similar feeling I had when I was swimming. When I was competitive I enjoyed it because I was good, I can’t do any sport “just for fun” it has to have a competitive edge. Well, not just sport anything. I’m not very good of doing stuff “for the fun of it”.

      What I really don’t enjoy is watching everything that I eat, and whatever I decide to put into my body I have to think about how to counter it. That’s what I REALLY hate.

      Two of my friends have had boob jobs, I don’t think I’d do it now I know what it entails really, even though mine are destroyed because of the kids too!

  2. Helen (QueenofBiscuits on twitter)

    Then why do you leave it so long between runs? Would having a schedule of races help? You can compete with yourself?

    “What I really don’t enjoy is watching everything that I eat, and whatever I decide to put into my body I have to think about how to counter it. That’s what I REALLY hate.”

    Stop doing it then, try going a month without thinking about a diet or how much you loathe your body or how long you have to run to eat a mars bar. Reassess after a month. Or how many meals do you currently eat a day? Have you tried the 6 a day plan? If you know you are going to eat again in 2-3 hours then less temptation to spurge or overeat?

    On the other hand you could try strength training, it’s absurd what I am currently eating and not putting on weight.

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      Because currently I’m exhausted (hence operation feel good), and would much rather get my kicks by cooking dinner in the evening.

      But this post wasn’t about me and changing my life, I watch what I eat because I LOVE to cook and eat, and have the sort of personality that tends to over indulge..this was more about the people who go to extreme methods to change their actual body, and risk their health. Not cut back and exercise to avoid being a chubs.

      1. Helen (QueenofBiscuits on twitter)

        Sorry I was doing that very male (huge generalisation coming up) of trying to solve the problem rather than listen to the problem. Bad at that, need to work on it.


        I think the way women view their bodies is a disgrace, we seem to think unless we conform to a long legged, flat stomach ideal our bodies are disgusting and worthless. This frankly is bullshit. We should learn to concentrate on what our bodies can do not what they look like. The people we should be looking for as ideals (again the extreme version) are people like Jessica Ennis and Rebecca Addlington not someone who walks down a catwalk in a dress. Flat stomach and thighs that don’t touch do not equal healthy.
        These diets work because they all restrict calories in their own way whether it’s Atkins, Dukan, Slimfast, Weight Watchers, Lighter Life. There is no miracle behind any of them, they all work on the calories in calories out method. However the true measure of success of a diet isn’t if you lose weight, it’s if you can keep it off once you have lost it. It’s the 21st century and everyone wants a quick fix. There is no quick fix to losing weight permanently.
        I bet 2 days after she had come off that STUPID RIDICULOUS DANGEROUS (for non medical reasons) “diet” she had put on at least 5lbs again.

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          I bet she put on more – anybody I know who has done supersonic fads end up worse then when they started!

  3. Vicky

    good piece. I thought for a moment you were leaning towards doing the ketogenic diet – so pleased to read further & find that you’re not! 
    I think women are mostly unhappy with their bodies since they’ve had children. Because we know how our bodies used to be. I was a size 6 before Holly, I left the hospital the morning after I had her in size 6. Lucky. Sophie however has changed my body completely. I was a size 12 for months. Not big by any means after having a baby,(or not after a baby!)  but to me that was the fattest I’d ever been. But that’s based on the fact I KNOW I was a size 6 before. Funny thing is, friends & family now tell me they thought I looked ill. 
    I think it is partly down to self confidence and partly down to how others see you. Show me a woman who doesn’t like being told she looks great. The more you get told, the more confident you become. Of course society, the media, celebs….they all make it very difficult for women to be comfortable in their own skin. But you could argue that it’s a mind set? Why seeing Amanda Holden 3 weeks after her c section looking like she’s never given birth at all, why does that have a negative affect on some women? Personally, I thought ‘good luck to her she looks amazing’ without feeling at all  inadequate. But for others it’s not like that. Why? Could it actually stem from your infancy & upbringing? Just a thought.
    I love your honesty, admitting to feeling some what pleased to get a stomach bug – not many women would openly admit that but I’m pretty sure we’ve all stood in front of the mirror after sickness and checked out our slightly flatter tummy with a feeling of satisfaction! 
    I could on & on really with possible reasons and explanations as to why maybe women go to extremes with their bodies. Personally, I could never have surgery…..but then I’ve never been that down on my body and not struggled to lose weight. Maybe if things were different I’d think differently? 
    LOADS to discuss on this one I think!! 
    Well done xxx 

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      I wouldn’t have anything done either, however I understand why both my friends who had their boobs done have had it done. They’re like different people since, in a better way.

  4. Kate

    Ive done a few “fad” diets in my time! Or if I haven’t done them, I’ve read about them! Luckily (or unluckily whichever way you want to look at it) they’ve never lasted longer than a few days max.

    I think the worst one I’ve done is slimfast, no food at all & disgusting shakes!? Why would I do that to myself!? First of all, it’s like being in hell, secondly, the weight goes straight back on as soon as you start eating again!

    For me, the best diets (lifestyle changes) have been slimming world & no carb. They work, and aren’t too painful!

    Everyone with half a brain knows if all these diets worked, there wouldn’t be a multi million pound industry full of new diets!

    As for strength training, well, I’m just lazy when it comes to exercise…..


    1. Post

      Slimfast is grim. I tried my mums once when I was about 15 and it was VILE put me off for life, yet, my sister did slimfast for AGES. It seemed to work for her.

  5. Jenny

    Here’s how I see it. Fad diets don’t work. Changing your way of eating and living do. Drinking a shake twice a day is not something one can do for any sustainable period of time. Nor is eating one food, or a food high in this or low in that. I have gone on a diet before, Atkins, and yes, I lost weight but I gained it back eventually because our bodies need to have normalcy. It’s very dangerous for one’s heart to go through different diets, and have our body deprived of certain things and then bought back, etc… The bottom line is, it’s hard but you really have to change your lifestyle. Enjoy eating. Be healthy.

  6. Alli Marshall

    It’s taken me years to find a lifestyle that suits me – I’ve had success on weight watchers & slimming world but sadly as soon as I got a bit lax on the programme the weight crept on.

    Last year I started to exercise & the weight disappeared but then I got stuck at the same weight for weeks & then I got despondent & the exercise stopped and the weight came back.

    Finally I found bootcamp – I train 3-6 times a week & I eat healthily, I eat more food now then I have ever done & I’ve lost 2 stone & 20 inches from my body. I am also fitter than I have ever been; I’ve finally discovered that healthy eating (with the odd treat) & exercise works – who knew?

    As for surgery I’d always said I’d have a boob job & a tummy tuck (unsightly stomach skin after 3 large babies) but that was until I had a c-section with number 3 & now I’d never have unnecessary surgery!

    Bootcamp has given me confidence in my body & I don’t need surgery now.

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  7. Helen

    The only thing that has ever worked for me has been Slimming World. I tried every fad diet under the sun (with varying degrees of success) but always put all the weight back on, plus more. I joined Slimming World in January 2010 and 11 months later I’d lost 5 stone 4 lbs. I still struggle though and I have gained some weight back. I think I’ve just accepted that I’ll always have to battle with my relationship with food!

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      WOW – that’s fantastic – I’m so impressed!

      Do you see Slimming World as a lifestyle change or a diet?

      1. Helen

        Total lifestyle change. It changed the way I feel about food and made me realise just how long I’ve had issues with it for. I still slip back into old habits sometimes but now I know when I’m doing it and I take steps to not get out of control.

        So while I don’t think I’ll ever be “perfect” with my eating habits (who is!), it totally broke the vicious cycle I was in.

  8. Mrs Dubai

    Hello Aimee, I’ve never done a fad diet. I had 20kgs to lose after having DD but found the only thing that worked for me, longterm, was eating healthily. Avoid junk food, eat a bit of everything in moderation, don’t snack (too much). If I’m hungry between meals I drink a tea, a coffee (not fatty coffee shop coffee) or water, and have a healthy snack like hummus on rice crackers.

    Think about the calorie content of everything you fancy, and decide if it’s worth having. If not, skip it, you’re not going to faint because you don’t eat that choc croissant!

    I lost my 20kgs, and it’s stayed off for 7 years. Good luck xox

  9. Pingback: Fad diet failure? Life Style Success? I need you! | Aimee Horton

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