My husband likes to call me a skeptic from time to time and he would be right 😉 I blame my past in consulting for this “gift”. No longer can I just read a report and accept the findings. Even when backed up with data, I find myself asking all kinds of additional and often frustratingly unanswered questions. Take today as a case in point:
US News recently published a ranking of the best overall diets (http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-overall-diets) of which I had seen links to in my Twitter feed for a while now. Most of the tweets simply gave the title and link, simple enough, so I didn’t really expect any surprises. But when I followed the link this morning I was completely surprised. First, let’s review how the diets were ranked:
U.S. News evaluated and ranked the 29 diets below with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease. The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) snagged the top spot.
So right away, they have touched on something that just pushed a button with me. I’m all on board with a diet being nutritious, safe and effective. However, “easy to follow” stuck out like a sore thumb. I’ve been on enough diets to know that some are quite complex and without good reason, but those diets often don’t qualify as nutritious or safe.
I believe the word that should have been used here is “simple“. You want a simple diet that is clear and concise in the rules. Easy implies that a person does not have to do any work. Easy also means that the person doesn’t have to think, therefore they never learn. When the diet is over, they have not learned how to make better choices and return to unhealthy ways 🙁
#1(4.1 out of 5.0)
DASH was developed to fight high blood pressure, not as an all-purpose diet. But it certainly looked like an all-star to our panel of experts, who gave it high marks for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes, and role in supporting heart health. Though obscure, it beat out a field full of better-known diets.
Sooooo the #1 diet was developed with a particular illness in mind, not as an all-purpose diet, but yet it’s the best we’ve got? And the best we’ve got is 4.1 stars out of 5? Anyone else a little confused by this? Personally, this is when I begin to severely doubt the entire findings because obviously the criteria for ranking seems a bit flawed.
If I was still on board at this point, I would want to know where the proof is. Where are the results of people who have followed these diets in controlled settings. What did those participants have to say about how “easy” it was?
My final straw broke when I got to #13, just two spots after vegetarian diet
(3.3 out of 5.0)
Slim-Fast is a reasonable approach to dieting, experts concluded. It outscored a number of competitors on weight loss and as a diabetes diet, and being highly structured, it’s fairly easy to follow. But it scored lower than many other diets on heart health.
Reasonable? Convenient, yes, but healthy? How can drinking something that is shelf stable as a meal replacement constitute as healthy? By replacing a smartly balanced meal, smoothie or fresh juice with a thick, chalky liquid suspension drink you miss out on the variety of nutrients you get from whole foods. The shakes are also more expensive than fresh produce.
The bottom line is this: Don’t believe the trend rankings! Use your common sense to piece together a clean, wholesome lifestyle that includes lots of fresh produce and hopefully a little (ok a lot!) of juicing and blending!