It’s that time of year! Diets are everywhere, and almost each one seems to insist on something different. Gluten-free was popular, then it was paleo and now it’s the ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting. Next year it will be something new.

In the quest to reach a healthy weight and boost your well-being, you may turn to a variety of diet plans or seek out information on “what works best.” The challenge is that answer is not the same for everyone, and the right diet for you may not be the same one that works for your friends and neighbours.

In fact, new research out of Texas A&M University was recently published in the journal Genetics, and it indicates that responses to a particular diet are likely based on individual genetics and DNA. That means the low carb diet may work for some people, while others may thrive with a lower fat diet. It’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.

And here’s where the red flag is waved: if you read diet advice that promises you a quick fix, miraculous weight loss, relief from your medical problems and perfect health, please be skeptical. They haven’t even met you – how could they possibly know what’s best? While different diets CAN work well, you need to find the right one that works for you.

Seek real support

Most quick-fix fad diets have these things in common:

  • Low in calories
  • Restrictive
  • Hard to stick to for the long-term
  • Require special supplements (expensive!)
  • Make false promises of rapid weight loss
  • Cut out entire foods or food groups

The results of these diets often sound so amazing, but it’s mostly marketing hype over scientific truth.

The truth is, the best diet is one you can stick to in the long term. It’s one that helps you reach your goals while eating foods that you enjoy. It’s not about suffering, restriction and stress. It’s about empowerment, joy and wisdom.

A dietitian can steer you in the right direction, and help develop a personalized plan that is right for you. Some dietitians even offer genetic testing, and can help you plan a diet according to your DNA.

Here are some common food fibs you may encounter:

Fib: You need to detox to rid your body of harmful toxins

Reality: Your body has a built-in detoxification system, made up of your liver, kidneys, lungs and skin. Every time you breathe or (ahem) go to the bathroom, you have detoxified. You don’t need any fancy drinks or pills to do that!

Fib: Everyone should avoid gluten because it’s toxic

Reality: Gluten is simply a protein found in wheat and other grains. It needs to be avoided by 1% of the population with celiac disease and about 6% with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you don’t have these conditions, there’s no reason to cut out gluten.

Fib: Food that’s labelled “organic” is much healthier for me:

Reality: The verdict on whether organic foods are healthier remains uncertain. It’s still important to note that organic cookies, cakes, chips and chocolate bars are ultra-processed foods with little health value. Don’t skip out on eating healthy foods such as fruit and veggies just because they’re not labeled organic


Question: What’s your current eating plan like? Is it working for you? How and why?

Learn more about how to spot a fad diet:

Cara Rosenbloom

Author Cara Rosenbloom

Registered Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom is the president of Words to Eat By, a Toronto-based nutrition communications company specializing in writing, recipe development and nutrition education. Read her blog and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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