Do Your Homework Before Jumping onto the Fad Diet Bandwagon

Do Your Homework Before Jumping onto the Fad Diet Bandwagon

Posted by Puja Sehgal, M.D. on Apr 25, 2015, 9:00:00 AM

Diet trends are nothing new. It seems as if every year there’s a new trend being touted or disparaged. Among the newest fads are the gluten-free diet and the recent focus on coconut oil as a weight-loss aid. While these may not be inherently bad for you, it’s important to remember that all aspects of nutrition have to be integrated into an overall healthy diet in order to see long-term benefits.

What’s a Healthy Diet?

The short answer is that a healthy diet is based entirely on the individual’s personal health. What a person needs to stay healthy depends largely on such considerations as:

  • Which vitamins and nutrients he or she is lacking.
  • How active he or she is.
  • How his or her metabolism performs.
Those are just three things in a long list of what to consider when developing a healthy diet. There are a few things that are generally universal. A healthy diet typically consists of the lots of fruits and vegetables, some protein, good carbs and good fats. All of these provide essential nutrients your body needs. Because good carbs and good fats should be integrated into healthy diets, there are questions among medical professionals about what the long-term side effects that currently popular gluten-free diets or the over use of coconut oil might have on your health.

Gluten-Free Diets May Not Be For You


First, let me say this: Some people have a gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity. For those people, a gluten-free diet is probably what’s best – if your doctor has examined you, determined you have a gluten allergy and then recommended a diet that reduces or removes gluten. There are, however, so many people who are suddenly abandoning their normal diets in favor of a gluten-free eating regimen without discussing it with their physician. If you are not allergic to gluten, there is no need to remove it from your diet. Many times, patients are removing gluten from their diet because they believe gluten comes tethered to bad carbs, or that gluten and carbohydrates are the same thing. This is not true. Gluten is actually a protein found in lots of things – dry barley, oats and wheat to name a few, and those are all good to eat unless you’re allergic to them. Totally removing any good thing from your diet could have long-range consequences, and the same goes for removing the protein that comes from gluten.  

Don’t Fall Into the Coconut Oil Trap


Another seemingly popular trend now (though people have in fact been using this product for years) is the substitution of coconut oil in diets for fats. There seems to be a pervading belief that coconut oil is better for you than olive or canola oil, and this is not necessarily true. In fact, canola oil and olive oil have more good fats, while the fat in coconut oil is about 92 percent saturated fat – the kind of fat that clogs arteries. Coconut oil is a tropical oil and, as a rule of thumb, most tropical oils are not considered good. Anything that is a solid at room temperature is something you should be wary of. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t eat fats. We need good fats in our diets, but these are often found in things like avocados, walnuts, pistachios and almonds.  

Remember, the best course of action is to consult your physician before you make any major dietary changes to assure you’re doing the best thing for your health. 

Do you have questions or concerns about something that could be considered a fad diet? Get in on the conversation and leave a comment below! 



Dr. Puja Sehgal is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who cares for patients at KSC’s Downtown at The Shops at Houston Center 4 location. She works with patients to give them knowledge regarding prevention and management of illness. She develops relationships with her patients by customizing their treatment based on their beliefs and cultural practices.

Topics: lose weight, dieting, coconut oil, diet, nutrition, gluten-free, weight loss, good fats

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