Experts warn against common dieting mistake ahead of the New Year

Fad diets like the ‘boiled egg diet’ should not be followed, dietitians say (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Fad diets like the ‘boiled egg diet’ should not be followed, dietitians say (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Experts have urged Britons not to rush into starting any “fad diets” that promise quick weight loss in 2023.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) said members of the public should be “incredibly critical” of any diet advice that claims to be a quick-fix weight loss solution, because they could do more harm than good.

It pointed to diets such as the “water diet” and the “boiled egg diet” as ideas and suggestions that dietitians had to “bat back” in 2022.

BDA spokesperson Marcela Fiuz said that focusing on weight loss while making New Year’s resolutions can “often lead to yoyo dieting or weight cycling [losing weight then regaining it over and over], which can be detrimental to health”.

“New Year’s resolution diets can also be triggering for those with eating disorders and can lead to disordered eating,” she added.

According to eating disorder charity Beat, around 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder.

Nichola Ludlam-Raine, a registered dietitian and member of the BDA, also warned that “New Year, New You” trends can be “really damaging to people’s self-esteem” because it makes “people believe they are not good enough as they are”.

“The truth is quite the opposite – and we must work on people’s self-esteems in order to make positive changes to dietary intake, focussing on what we should be eating and doing more of, like increasing fluid and fibre, rather than focusing on restriction,” she explained.

The BDA represents more than 10,500 dietitians across the UK and is working with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to report misleading and misinformation in diet adverts.

Miles Lockwood, director of complains and investigations at the ASA, said: “Our rules make it clear that advertisers need to not be misleading or irresponsible when advertising diet products or systems.

“Any claims should be backed up by robust evidence, not just ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, and ads shouldn’t make claims that people can lose an irresponsible amount of weight or fat.”

He added that advertisers must ensure they are not targeting children under the age of 18 or including any offensive material in their adverts.

The BDA said that most fad diets are unsustainable in the long-term and some of their effects can be detrimental to health, leading to muscle loss, nutrient deficiencies and metabolic adaptation, which means more weight can be regained in the future.

Kaitlin Colucci, also a member of the BDA, said: “Fad diets promise quick fixes, they require little time, little thought and some investment, which promise big results.

“They can be problematic as they do not lead to sustainable long-term changes and can develop into unhealthy and disordered relationships with food.”

For anyone struggling with the issues raised in this piece, eating disorder charity Beat’s helpline is available 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677. NCFED offers information, resources and counselling for those suffering from eating disorders, as well as their support networks. Visit eating-disorders.org.uk or call 0845 838 2040.