13/01/2013 11:16 GMT | Updated 13/03/2013 05:12 GMT

Don't Let Crazy Fad Diets Dictate What You Eat


2013 has to be the year of good health.

With so many people setting their New Year goals around eating more healthily or losing weight this got me thinking about how I can help put an end to the crazy fad diets that are available.

For generations now, people trying to shed a few pounds have tried just about anything to lose weight. But these extreme diets are crazy, they never last and don't work long term. They are unhealthy, unhelpful and unrealistic. But worse than that, they can be dangerous.

So it was positive to hear equalities minister, Jo Swinson, speaking out last month. Swinson got it right when she urged magazine editors to stop featuring irresponsible "fad diets and fitness myths" that will not actually help people lose weight.

After twenty years working with people to improve their health and energy, I too feel its time something needs to be done to put an end to these unhealthy diets and educate people more about the negative impact they can have on their health and wellbeing.

There are five key reasons why these crazy fads should be avoided like the plague:

1. Many restrict important food groups - and this can be unhealthy.

2. Many diets lead to poor energy levels, which amongst other things will affect your ability to exercise and stay happy.

3. Most diets are impossible to sustain and this means that, as soon as you can't handle the diet any more, you go back to your old way of eating and quickly go back to your old weight.

4. Many diets push you to make big reductions to your calorie intake. This can slow down your metabolism and thus, when you go back to your old way of eating, you may actually end up putting on more weight.

5. Many diets are so complicated e.g. calorie counting, that it becomes an obsessive full time job to continue with it.

I'm not saying don't tackle weight loss. There is clearly a need for some people to lose weight as a survey published in 2012 found that just over a quarter of all adults (26%) in England are obese. Obesity is also an increasing problem in children, with around 1 out of 7 children being classified as obese.

But we are so obsessed in the modern world with getting everything right now, that we expect weight loss to be the same. It's not. Achieving your ideal weight is not rocket science, but it is a lifestyle change and it does take commitment. It's about starting slowly and making some very simple habit changes, such as increasing your daily exercise, to achieve results.

The weight loss you'll see and the speed with which you'll get the results are dependent on how dedicated you are to these habit changes. It is also very important to remember that everyone has different genetics and therefore someone may have to do much less to get amazing results than someone else.

Although 80% of your weight loss success will come from nutrition, there are other areas of your life that are key to achieving healthy and sustainable weight loss. So it is not just about nutrition but you also need to focus on the mind, sleep, exercise, energy, and your work life balance.

Fad diets may help the diet industry to pile on the pounds, but generally they don't help individuals to lose weight in a sensible and sustainable way. They can in fact have a negative impact on people's health, energy and performance which is why it is so important to focus on all of these areas.

I do get a sense things are starting to change. The Government now has our health and well being firmly on its agenda and many local authorities are doing more to educate people about sensible ways to achieve good health and well being.

The challenge, however, is that there is so much health and weight loss related information out there it can be difficult for people to identify the good and the bad - what will steer them in the right direction and what is purely being used to generate money for weight loss businesses.

Oliver Gray, health and energy expert and Author of Energise You - www.energiseyou.com