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Wellness plans: fad versus fact

Vegan diets, blood type diets, liquid diets, lunar diets, werewolf diets, grapefruit diets — one cannot avoid being bombarded by the hype for the latest “revolutionary” and transformative diet proposal. The overwhelming number of fad diets emerging with “pseudo” scientific demonstrations can easily be confused with proven nutritional facts.

June 13, 2018  By Isabelle Sauve

Despite absence of solid scientific proof to substantiate many of the claims made, fad diets boast having unearthed the perfect equation. However, there is no magic universal formula. Many of these diets are in fact unhealthy and unbalanced. Fad diets frequently prescribe a set plan and propose unrealistic results. Some of them proclaim fat loss without exercise, which can wrongfully seem appealing. Physical activity is an irreplaceable component to long-term wellness, health, and weight management. Perhaps what all fad diets have in common is the improbability that followers will be able to adhere to them long-term.

Overly strict diets are too restrictive in terms of calories and nutritional value. Over time they can have an adverse impact on health and be harmful due to a deficit of minerals, vitamins and nutrients.

Restricted diets can have a substantial negative impact on athletic, physical and mental performance, and can cause serious medical issues. Being under nourished increases the likelihood of exercising poor judgment. These deficiencies can have a devastating impact for those in the field of law enforcement.

For example, reducing carbohydrate intake, a biomolecule necessary to fuel the muscles and the brain, decreases overall energy. Diets too low in carbohydrates place the body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis happens when the body burns fat without carbohydrates, producing a by-product in the bloodstream called ketones. This creates the feeling of fatigue (and even nausea in its extreme). Being carbohydrate deficient can be a serious problem for anaerobic activity or intense action, such as a foot chase or a physical struggle as the body turns to carbohydrates for fuel.  


The equilibrium between calorie intake and expenditure is the tipping point. It is the overall dietary pattern that matters in conjunction with physical activity. At the end of the day, there is no rapid solution to weight management. It takes time to lose weight, as it takes time to gain it.

Safe weight loss occurs at approximately one to two pounds per week and does not come easily. It takes approximately a deficit of 3,500 calories to shred one pound. If more calories are spent than are ingested, the result is weight loss. The reverse signifies gain.

Our health is our wealth. Imagine your body as a bank account; you can enrich it with exercise and a balanced nutrition. On the other hand, poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle deplete the account. As such, do not live in debt with your body as it is hard to repay and usually comes with high interest.

The word “diet” implies hardship and deprivation, immediately creating an unbalanced psychological mind set. Therefore, calling wellness undertakings something more empowering — such as a “health management plan” or simply a “wellness plan” — can set you up for success. It also suggests a multi-faceted approach to wellness with nutrition being but one important component.

There is no need to entirely eliminate foods enjoyed — it’s about balance and moderation. Eating should support health, feeling well, mood stabilization, energy and vitality. Wellness management plans should be individually based, taking into account varying needs related to age, medical conditions, activity level, etc.

Undertaking small incremental steps such as eating slowly and gently reducing portion sizes eventually leads to grand results. Committing to simple steps alone will gradually make a big difference.

Other easy steps, such as drinking more water or adding a vegetable snack once a day can also lead to substantial change. Preparing one’s own snacks and meals offers more control over what is eaten. Eventually small efforts become habit and become permanent routine.

Rather than having an elaborate calorie count, the focus should be on fresh, natural and colourful food. Read labels and know the content of food. Pay close attention to the nutritional value of what you eat. Moreover, notice how you feel after eating, as it can be a good indicator of whether or not the food is healthy for you. Do not skip meals as it can depress your metabolism.

Like a sport-performance car, the body responds best when filled with quality fuel.

Isabelle Sauve is a 10-year OPP veteran currently with the Emergency Response Team (ERT) at the Almaguin Highlands Detachment in Burks Falls, about 300 km north of Toronto. She can be contacted at:

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