More to dieting than simply eating right, says expert

by Andrea Iseman
Life Reporter
Published: April 10, 2008

Students wanting to get skinny before bathing suit season should be aware of the dangers to dieting, said several medical professionals.

“Often times, these fad diets and detox diets don’t work,” said Jason Powell, program co-ordinator for the nursing diploma program. “They actually result in significant weight gain.”

Dr. Chandrakant P. Shah, a family physician in Toronto, agrees that fads don’t work and tend to result in a yo-yo effect, where people eventually fall off the wagon and give up.

“If there was a quick solution, we would have found it a long time ago.”

Detox diets, one diet in a long list of many, involve a change in consumption habits in an attempt to “detoxify” the body, by removing “toxins” and other contaminants to improve health, energy, and resistance to disease, as well as helping with weight loss. These diets usually involve a lot of fruits and vegetables, while limiting processed foods and alcohol.

However, Powell said people should be cautious when undergoing detox diets, or any diet, because they can result in psychological problems, which most fad diets fail to mention.

“They play on emotions,” he said. “They usually don’t target the 70-year-old man; they target the youth of today, because there is a certain look.”

And the amount of weight these diets claim people can lose is also way off, said Powell.

“A lot of times they promise to lose 25 pounds, saying that our intestines carry excess weight,” he said, “but come on, I have never heard of something so preposterous.”

Students in particular are looking for quick fixes and immediate results, but because of their busy lifestyles that is not realistic, said Powell.

“Students’ lifestyles change when they become a full-time student,” he said. “They are more likely to be sitting at a computer doing homework than exercising, but they don’t often change their intake or their diet.”

Debra Basch, a registered holistic nutritionist and part-time faculty member with the health and nutrition promotion program, said if students really want to lose weight properly they should start with simple things, like not skipping breakfast.

“Park your car at the farthest part of the lot, and walk,” she said. “Do push-ups in your rez room; you can’t lose weight with diet alone.”

She also said students don’t tend to live totally healthy lifestyles, so just cutting back on the amount of burgers or pizza is a great start.

“You are not going to get fat from one slice, but you will by eating two or three, and downing it with a beer or soda.”

Dr. Dana Kam, a family doctor in Toronto for 14 years, said that by just following a balanced diet is one easy way for students, and anyone, to lose weight.

“Students will go out, and you know if you want to go out and party and go to a club, that is expensive too, and it won’t really do your body any good,” said Basch.

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