Dieting is a HUGE market. We spend billions of dollars each year trying to buy our way into being thin.
Where there’s money available, there’s always someone waiting to take advantage of it. That has led to the rise of some truly awful dieting products.
Some of these are so much a part of daily life that we don’t really even think about them. You might have even fallen into the habit of using them. Here are five products that you should rethink.
#1 - Meal Replacements
Like a lot of these diets, this is an approach I’ve tried myself. Any pharmacy or grocery store has an aisle devoted to various breakfast bars, protein bars, meal replacement drinks, and so on.
They promise to fill you up so that you won’t want to eat something else. They’re often loaded up with nutritional content to make them seem healthy.
Sometimes they are, but usually, they’re junk food. They’re highly processed, chocolate-coated, sugar-laden candy.
A healthy, hearty meal will help you lose weight faster than any “meal replacement,” and it will keep you full for much, much longer.
#2 - The "Secret" Smoothie Store
Smoothies can be great, and they can have a place in any healthy diet. However, buying huge smoothies from smoothie places can have hidden downsides.
First of all, despite the fact that many places offer loyalty deals, smoothies cost a lot. Over time, it really adds up. For a lot of us, that makes buying smoothies an occasional treat by necessity.
The biggest problem with smoothie products is that they often contain additives and sugars that we don’t need. When you prepare a smoothie at home as part of a healthy diet, you put the ingredients in yourself. You choose how much sugar, cream, and fruit juice is in there.
At smoothie places, they often add extra sugar, dairy, juices, and other additives to make the smoothie taste more delicious. It works, but it means that many of these frozen treats are more like junk food than health food.
#3 - Meal Boxes
Meal boxes are super popular these days. There are dozens of companies that offer to send you everything you need to make a healthy, delicious meal in your own home. There are meal box companies to suit a variety of tastes.
However, these meal boxes are not a real option for permanent lifestyle change. Not only are they expensive, costing way more than the same exact ingredients purchased at the grocery store, but they’re bulky, full of useless packaging, and unvarying.
You can’t adjust the meals to your tastes because everything comes all planned out for you. More importantly, the meal options repeat over and over again.
After a month or two, you’ll be bored out of your mind, broke, and back to your old, unhealthy ways.
#4 - Prepared Foods
Programs like Nutrisystem are a late-night commercial staple. They offer to send you all of your meals, already prepared and portioned for you, for a monthly price.
All they are really doing is taking away your control. Instead of having to choose the healthy option at lunch, they send it to you. Instead of having to choose one scoop of rice instead of two, they send it to you.
I understand why this works and why some people could benefit from it. Self-control is the hardest part of any diet. But, the problem here is that these programs are unsustainable.
Paying for the same meals from the same place every day for the rest of your life just won’t work. It gets boring and expensive pretty quickly. Meanwhile, you’re not developing any of the self-control you need to make a permanent change.
#5 - Weight Loss Shakes
Diet shakes are probably the worst trend on this list. They’ve been around since the sixties, designed to make eating any food at all unnecessary. In the 1990s, Oprah went on her show and told viewers that a shake system had helped her lose fifty pounds and since then, they’ve never gone away.
Many of these systems, including the one Oprah did (Optifast), were designed by doctors to treat super-obese patients. They were a life-saving measure for very dire situations and were intended to be supervised by a doctor.
Now, anyone can get these liquid meals without any oversight. They work by having the user empty a pouch of nutritional powder into a liquid (or sometimes they’re premixed). Drink one and, voila, no need to eat at all!
What a terrible idea.
Like many bad diets, the biggest problem with this approach is that it totally ignores the fact that HUMANS NEED TO EAT. It’s not just a physiological need, either. It’s also psychological. Our brains are hard-wired to seek the nutrients we need to survive.
A shake diet is a sure way to make you sick…and maybe even a little crazy.
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