Dangers of Falling Into Fad Diets in College

college fad diets

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  • University students and weight gain stereotypes have gone together for quite a long time.

    In the U.S., many new students struggle with the “Freshman 15,” a label describing how easy it is to put on extra weight in school when you’re surrounded by food constantly.

    Gaining weight in college can also be a problem due to the fact that you’re going through a major lifestyle change. There’s added stress, new relationships, late-night study sessions that can lead to unhealthy eating habits, and more. It’s also a time of self-discovery and may be the first time in your life when you’ve had to shop and cook for yourself.

    As a result, university students aren’t immune to the trendy fad diets that come and go in waves. These diets can be appealing, promising fast results and the ability to reach your physical goals with a few major changes. But, many of them can also be dangerous. Not only are some of the trends harmful to your body, but many of them are ineffective in the long run.

    So, why are fad diets so appealing to university students? What can you do to avoid falling victim to the trends and make lasting, healthy dietary choices, instead?

    Why Are Fad Diets So Popular?

    University students can face a lot of struggles throughout their time at school. The stress of a new environment, harder classes, and a more demanding schedule can lead many people to turn to food as a familiar source of comfort. While there are many other, healthier ways students can manage their stress, food often provides a quick fix.

    Unfortunately, that can lead to “quick” weight gain and other unhealthy habits, too.

    One of the reasons fad diets have become so popular across universities is because they also promise to work quickly. In fact, many of them promise rapid weight loss if you follow a few simple steps.

    Many people are far more interested in an immediate change than working with the science of losing weight. Fad diets work so quickly because you typically have to restrict your caloric intake significantly.

    Some of the most famous diets, like the Atkins diet, do this by also restricting the number of carbohydrates you consume each day. A few more of the most popular fad diets over the years include:

    1. Keto
    2. Paleo
    3. Dukan
    4. Lemon detox
    5. Baby food
    6. Cabbage soup

    There can be some benefits to some of these diets. The Paleo diet, for example, focuses on eating real, whole foods and leaving out processed snacks and meals. But it also cuts major food groups, such as whole grains, from your diet and relies heavily on protein. While that doesn’t seem like a bad thing, you can get that protein from almost anything, including fatty meats and red meat that could impact your cholesterol levels and contribute to heart conditions.

    What Are the Risks?

    Losing weight takes time. It requires you to consume fewer calories than your body burns each day. So, while eating a lot less over a short period of time can, indeed, lead to rapid weight loss, it isn’t sustainable. Fad diets can even sometimes go too low with their caloric intake suggestions, not allowing your body what it needs to function properly.

    As a result, fad diets can cause a variety of health problems, including:

    1. Fatigue
    2. Dehydration
    3. Nausea
    4. Headaches
    5. Constipation

    Depending on which diet you choose, you might also be missing out on key vitamins and minerals your body needs to function and, therefore, concentrate on your studies. Lowering your caloric intake too much not only will affect your body, but it can impact your mind, too. Doing it for too long can have lasting, dangerous effects, and may even lead to an eating disorder because you feel as though it’s something that gives you control.

    Developing Healthy Eating Habits

    Do fad diets seem great if you want to lose weight fast? Yes. But most of the weight will come back if you go off the diet, creating a vicious cycle that you’ll never be happy with.

    Instead of following the trends, the best thing you can do to stay healthy at school is to find a nutritional balance. That can feel overwhelming at first when you have so many other things to think about, but there are resources available to you that can make living a healthy lifestyle easier. Even if you don’t make changes to the foods you’re eating, you can manage your weight by enjoying them in moderation.

    other valuable tips:

    If you do want to make healthier food choices, you can talk to a health advisor on campus or visit your school’s health center or school of nursing to learn more about nutritional guidelines and healthy meal plans.

    Finally, you can start eating healthily by taking advantage of your living situation. You have the ability to shop and cook for yourself — perhaps for the first time! Try using different apps that can help you with creating a healthy meal plan and learning how to cook. You can even use resources that will help you create a weekly/monthly budget, so you can plan your meals ahead of time and understand how much it will cost.

    Does healthy eating take a bit of planning and dedication? Yes. But it’s a lifestyle choice/change, instead of a quick fix. When you focus on nutrition, not fads, your results will last, your weight won’t fluctuate so much, and you’ll keep the rest of your mind and body healthy as well.

    Image Credit: college fad diets by envato.com

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