Yep, you heard right. All donuts and candy, all the time. Watch the pounds melt away!
Or, perhaps you would prefer the cake diet? Pizza diet? Twinkie diet? Milkshake diet? Ice-cream diet? Cookie diet? Chocolate diet? Cracker diet? Croissant diet? Beer and pie diet? Wine and pasta diet? Fried chicken diet? Bread and butter diet?
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Or one of the hundreds of other "monotrophic diets" that google confirms the existence of?
Seriously. You can pick almost any single food item and plop it into google followed by "diet" and someone, somewhere (with questionable credentials, I might add) has made it a thing. A sad reality as to where most people get their health information from!
But since you clicked on this post, you are likely frantically nodding your head YES! SIGN ME UP!
Let's set a few things straight.
These diets are not (entirely) a joke. They can ALL be effective for weight loss if followed properly.
Many factors play into weight loss, but the biggest one of all is calorie restriction. It doesn't matter WHAT you are eating (or not eating), if you are consuming fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight.
Before you head out to buy a week's supply of donuts and power through your kids' Halloween loot, let's set a few more things straight.
Consuming exclusively one or two foods (whether it is donuts or kale) will also result in the following:
1. You will be starving
Donuts, cake, Twinkies, candy and most of the "diets" listed above are calorie-dense with little to no fiber. The average donut or piece of cake has anywhere from 250-400 calories, which leaves your daily intake at around 3-4 servings (if we are being generous). To make it worse, foods low in fiber do not keep you full or sustain you long-term. Eating the same number of calories in a high fiber, healthy meal will sustain you for a significantly longer period of time. Even if you are on a so-called "healthy" mono diet (such as kale, cucumber or apple), you simply can not eat enough of that one thing to sustain yourself and curb your hunger. You would need to consume around 20 apples or whole cucumbers to reach ~1000 calories! Starving people are not happy people.
2. You will lack energy
Foods high in simple (refined) carbohydrates (think white bread/pasta and refined sugars) cause your blood sugar to spike, resulting in a quick burst of energy which soon plummets to below what it was initially. This is what is referred to as a sugar crash. Sugar crashes are associated with fatigue, irritability, hunger, anxiety and a long list of other symptoms. Eating insufficient calories also results in reduced energy. Even if you were to completely fill up on cucumber or kale, the total number of calories would not provide adequate energy. You would also be depriving yourself of important nutrients that help in the production of energy and keep you from feeling tired and lethargic. Tired people are not happy people.
3. You will deprive your body of essential nutrients
When it comes to health (which should be your first priority), our bodies need variety. No one or two foods can provide all of the nutrients we need. Eating only one or two foods (healthy or otherwise) for extended periods can result in deficiencies and other health problems.
As well, excess refined sugar (which will be the case with most of the diets listed) has been associated with a long list of health complications (check out the post Refined Sugar: The Sneaky Truth for more information). Malnourished people are not happy people.
4. Your results will not be sustainable
Unless you are developing permanent healthy eating habits, weight loss results from dieting generally do not last. Monotrophic diets, such as those listed above, are the worst culprits. They are usually seen as the easy way out (eating only one thing takes no thinking or planning and can result in quick weight loss), but what happens after? Eat only cake for 2 weeks, lose 10 pounds then go back to eating a healthy plant-based whole foods diet? An unlikely story. Yo-yo dieters are not happy people.
5. You will be unhappy
See 1 through 4 above.
A BETTER OPTION?
If you haven't guessed, I am not a fan of "diets" of any sort. I have never been on one, nor do I ever plan to. I am a firm believer that adopting permanent healthy eating habits, where you are mindful of both WHAT and HOW MUCH you consume and eat everything in moderation, is the most effective way to permanently lose or maintain weight and optimize health.
In the case of someone needing to lose a significant amount of weight, I do see the value in counting and restricting calories (within reason), however only secondary to adopting healthy eating habits and regularly participating in some sort of physical activity. Calorie counting can also be beneficial in the short term as a means to get an idea of how many calories you generally consume in a day, and make adjustments if needed. Calorie counting does not mean adding up your bacon and sausage breakfast, mid-morning venti caramel macchiato and donut, and lunch-time McDonald's feast only to realize you can't eat for the next 2 days.
HOW TO ADOPT PERMANENT HEALTHY EATING HABITS
First things first, learn how to read and understand a nutrition facts table and ingredient list so you can make educated decisions about the foods you purchase, cook and consume.
Learn what a healthy diet looks like
Follow the Canadian Food guide (even if you don't live in Canada). The old Canadian food guide was terrible, however, the new one (2019) is great. Basically, it says to consume plenty of fruit and vegetables, protein from primarily plant-based sources (nuts, beans, lentils, tofu), and whole, unprocessed grains, with water being the drink of choice. It is okay to deviate from time to time, however, this should be the basis of at least 80% of what you eat. Check out these 9 Healthy and Delicious Recipe Blogs for healthy meal inspiration.
Reduce your intake of refined sugar and processed foods. Both of these pack a ton of empty calories that easily contribute to excess pounds alongside a long list of possible health complications. Read Refined Sugar: The Sneaky Truth for more info and tips on how to curb your sugar addiction. Focus on eating real food.
Make water your drink of choice and ensure you get enough. Most adults require at least 8 glasses a day, which increases if you are exercising, sick, spending time in the heat, or pregnant/breastfeeding. Relying on thirst alone isn't enough. Feelings of thirst imply you are already dehydrated. Adequate hydration is extremely important in most bodily functions and can also help with weight management. Make it routine to drink water when you wake up and carry a water bottle around with you. Set reminders if needed. If you find it difficult to drink water try infusing it with lemon (or other fruit), cucumber or mint, make it bubbly, or swap a few glasses for herbal tea.
Set realistic goals for healthy eating
Analyze your diet and pinpoint the foods you consume regularly that are the most problematic, and the foods (such as those included in the Canadian Food Guide) that are missing and you want to incorporate. Set small accumulative goals to reduce or eliminate the problematic foods from your diet and replace them with healthier options. Use the goal-setting page for help setting goals to develop healthy eating habits in a way that is sustainable (subscribe for 2 free printable goal setting worksheets).
Get others on board
Adopting healthy eating habits will be 1000x easier if you get your family or significant other on board. Let them know what you are doing and why. Educate them. Invite them to help with meal planning. Try out new recipes together. If you are the one making most of the meals, refrain from cooking separate meals. Healthy eating should be a priority for everyone, not just those trying to lose weight.
If you can turn your diet around overnight and make it stick, awesome! However, for most people that simply won't work. It might stick for a few days or weeks, but not long term. Making one or two small changes to your diet is a step in the right direction. Once those changes have become routine, work on a couple more changes. Before you know it you won't just be eating a healthy, balanced diet, you will be embracing it.