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Six nutrition principles most fad diets don’t include

It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 butted its ugly head in the world.

That might mean your kids are still at home, your favorite gym is closed, your kids don’t have school sports, and the temptations of food at home has you carrying and extra 15 pounds gained this year. You know ... the “COVID Fifteen.”

Before you begin your next fad diet to jumpstart your health, consider the six principles that should be the foundation of any diet. You can use the following principles to tweak almost any fad diet on the market, create a solid foundation for your health, and make it more successful and sustainable long-term:

First, you must be drinking mostly water. Coffee, tea, sports drinks, and powders mixed with water do not count for healthy filtered water. How much water should you drink? Take your body weight in pounds, divide it by two, and that is how many ounces of pure water you need each day. This is a minimum, add in more for exercise and sweating.

Second, the diet should focus on whole, unprocessed foods, in their most natural state for the best chance of health and sustained weight loss. It’s time to ditch the idea that packaged food or meal replacement drinks can sustain weight loss. Chances are you can’t (or wouldn’t want to) drink your nutrients the rest of your life. Eliminating these products will save you money too. If you can’t understand the ingredients list of the product, it’s not real food.

Third, cooking is not optional. See number two and know that you have to cook to avoid processed foods. When you cook, you eat and absorb more healthy nutrients such as vitamin B for energy and amino acids for muscle building. Cooking is the easiest way to removed toxic processed ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, soy protein isolate, preservatives and MSG.

Fourth, reduce refined sugar, sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. Refined sugar causes an inflammatory response in our body, but don’t overlook artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. While these sweeteners have zero calories and don’t raise blood sugar like refined sugar, the sweetness still causes a brain response that may keep your addiction to sweets hanging on by a thread.

Fifth, reduce your long-term, daily consumption of supplements. The supplement industry is a billion-dollar unregulated for-profit industry. Be wary of a diet that includes a long list of supplements to follow long term without detailed healthy nutrition guidance. Remember, supplements can’t replace real healthy food.

Sixth, after eating strictly for 4-6 weeks, allow yourself the freedom to enjoy a moderate amount of your favorite comfort foods, because it’s almost impossible to sustain a super-strict diet long term. However, keep it to once a week. This is a day where you still watch your portions, drink plenty of water, stay away from your food allergies, but indulge in your favorite foods.

Fad diets are not going anywhere, but with these six principles you can tailor any fad diet to make it healthier and more sustainable for you long term. Fad diets are great for meeting short term goals, but these principles allow them to become great for long-term goals too.

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield and offers virtual-coaching options. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.