10 Red Flags of Bad Diets

Hey you!

So when I took my first nutrition class back in the 1800s, one of the first things we learned was the 10 Red Flags of Junk Science.

The 10 Red Flags of Junk Science from https://projecteatme.wordpress.com/

This list is all over the web and many give credit to the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance for coming up with the list, although as far as I can tell this group no longer exists.

At any rate, I think they apply really well to fad diets so check these out and use them when you are thinking about whether a given diet or health product is right for you:

The 10 Red Flags of Bad Diets

  1. Recommendations that promise a quick fix. (Lose 10 pounds in the first week without diet or exercise!)
  2. Dire warnings of danger from a single product or regimen. (Coffee causes psychotic episodes!)
  3. Claims that sound too good to be true. (Change your body overnight, change your body for life!)
  4. Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex scientific study. Usually findings from a complex study bring up the need for more research into certain areas brought to light by the limitations of the original study.
  5. Recommendations based on a single study. One study is almost never enough to draw conclusions from.
  6. Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations. (Everyone agrees that this diet is great … but please don’t check what these guys have to say!) Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
  7. Lists of “good” and “bad” foods. (No pasta allowed!)
  8. Recommendations made to help sell a product. (Just take a pill – but not those other impure ones, only ours are pure!)
  9. Recommendations based on studies published without peer review. This undermines the scientific process.
  10. Recommendations from studies that ignore difficulties among individuals or groups. (Everybody will lose weight!)
Have you seen a product or heard about a diet recently that raises any red flags?



Weekend Reading: Helpful Diet Info, Fad Diets, Controversy


A friend sent this to me last weekend and it had me laughing my butt off!

Toy-filled chocolate egg approved for sale in US from confectionerynews.com
As someone who grew up with Kinder Surprises, this makes me happy 🙂

I hope you enjoy some of the other interesting stuff I came across this week too:

Helpful diet info

The Effortless Diet: Healthy Substitutions for the Most Unhealthy Cooking Ingredients from LifeHacker
It’s called being smart. I know you can do it!

Fad diets

I Tried Greta Garbo’s Strange, Horrifying Diet from NYmag
Fun read about old fad diets

Is Juicing a Healthy Diet Plan? from STACK
What do you think?

Rob Rhinehartl’s ‘No Eating’ Diet Probably Isn’t Such A Great Idea from Huffington Post
Learn how you too can live off of liquid sludge instead of delicious food


Monster Energy adds caffeine content to labels from CNN
Monster has decided to sell it’s energy drinks as beverages, not supplements so they will not have to report adverse events to FDA BUT they will have to list caffeine content. Sounds like a dangerous loophole to me.

Biggest Loser Trainers Publicly Promote Diet And Exercise, Quietly Endorse Unproven Weight Loss Pills from ThinkProgress
Does Jillian really believe in hard work given that she’s making money off of people who want to take the easy way out?

Do you have any thoughts on any of these articles? What did you read this week? Let me know in the comments.

Eat Right for Vegetarians

Fact: A vegetarian diet isn’t automatically a healthier option.

The good news is, it can be if you eat right, your way, every day.

The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie and nutrient needs.


What is a healthy vegetarian diet?

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you try to build a healthy vegetarian diet:

Pay attention to protein. Your protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant foods. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans and peas, nuts, and soy products (such as tofu, tempeh). Lacto-ovo vegetarians also get protein from eggs and dairy foods. And of course grains such as quinoa also offer some protein.

Don’t forget calcium. Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Other sources of calcium for vegetarians include calcium-fortified soymilk/ almond milk/ rice milk, tofu made with calcium sulfate, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, and some dark-green leafy vegetables (collard, turnip, and mustard greens; and bok choy).

Get your vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is naturally found only in animal products. Vegetarians should choose fortified foods such as cereals or soy products, or take a vitamin B12 supplement if they do not consume any animal products. Check the Nutrition Facts label for vitamin B12 in fortified products.

Consume vitamin C at every meal. Vitamin C helps to maximize iron absorption from plants. Think strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, or citrus fruits.

Don’t forget omega-3 fats. Aim for a daily equivalent of 2 tsp of flaxseed oil, 2 tbsp of canola oil or ground flaxseed, or a half cup of walnuts.

Consider other nutrients. There are many nutrients that can be obtained from plant sources but depending on your food choices, you might not get adequate iron, zinc, and vitamin D. The best way to ensure you are getting these nutrients is to eat a variety of foods including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and if desired, dairy products and eggs.

Include legumes. Because of their high nutrient content, consuming beans and peas is recommended for everyone, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Try black beans in a burger, kidney beans in chili, pinto beans in a taco, or chickpeas made into humus.

Experiment with meat substitutes. A variety of vegetarian products look and sometimes taste like their non-vegetarian counterparts but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol. Try soy-based sausage patties or links, bean burgers, or falafel.

Careful with cheese. I love the stuff, but most cheese has more saturated fat and calories than many meats. Keep your portions in check.

Go nuts! Choose unsalted nuts as a snack and use them in salads or main dishes. Add almonds, walnuts, or pecans instead of cheese or meat to a green salad. But don’t go overboard – stick to a one ounce portion.

Talk to a Registered Dietitian. Before making any changes to how you eat, it’s a great idea to meet with a Registered Dietitian who can help you make sure there aren’t any holes in your diet.

Do you have other tips to help you eat smart as a vegetarian?


DASH Eating Plan: Weighing the Pros and Cons

It’s June already!

With summer beach season and wedding season coming up quickly, I’m noticing that a lot of people are trying to find quick weight loss solutions. If you’re like many, your first instinct is to hop online and see what that best new diet is. You might find that U.S. News evaluated and ranked diets and that the DASH diet was rated the best diet overall. So what’s it all about and is it really any good?


DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This eating plan was actually developed to help prevent high blood pressure and lower it if you already have it. Weight loss is just a bonus.

Let me tell a little about high blood pressure and why you should care before we get into the details of DASH.

High blood pressure (or its fancy name, hypertension) affects 1/3 American adults and another 1/3 of adults have prehypertension. Having prehypertension means that you have an increased chance of developing hypertension. If you’ve had your blood pressure checked, or check it yourself with one of those fun machines at a pharmacy, anything between 120/80 and 140/89 is prehypertension and higher than 140/89 is considered hypertension.

So what?

High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes your heart work too hard and is hard on your arteries and other parts of your body. It can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness so it is worth paying attention to.

The good news is that it can be prevented and treated by following the DASH plan or a similar healthy eating plan, being active, drinking moderately if at all, and maintaining a healthy weight.


Research has shown that diets low in sodium and high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber help to lower blood pressure. The DASH eating plan is also lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol than the typical American diet which makes it heart-healthy and weight-friendly.

But the cool thing is that in order to follow the DASH plan, you don’t have to memorize a list of foods that you can and can’t eat.

You just have to focus on including fruits, vegetables, low-fat/fat-free dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. These foods are naturally rich in the nutrients that help to lower blood pressure. The plan naturally limits sweets, sugar-containing beverages, added salt, fats, and red meats.

The number of servings you need from each food group depends on the number of calories you need each day which depends on your age, sex, activity level, and weight loss goals. Whoa! Let me know if you need help figuring out your calorie needs.

For example, if you need 2000 calories, each day you would eat:

  • 6-8 grain servings
  • 4-5 vegetable servings
  • 4-5 fruit servings
  • 2-3 fat-free or low-fat milk servings
  • 6 or less servings of lean meats, poultry, or fish
  • 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds, and legumes per week
  • 2-3 servings of fats and oils
  • 5 or less servings of sweets per week

Just to give you an idea of what this looks like, a 2000 calorie day could look like this:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal with cinnamon
  • 1 mini whole wheat bagel with 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup unsalted almonds
  • A sandwich with 2 slices whole wheat bread, 2 slices of chicken breast, 1 slice of reduced fat cheddar cheese, 1 large leaf of lettuce, 2 slices of tomato, and 1 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 cup cantaloupe chunks
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup fat-free fruit yogurt
  • 1 cup cooked spaghetti with 3/4 low sodium marinara sauce and 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • A spinach salad with 1 cup spinach leaves, 1/4 grated carrots, 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms, and 1 Tbsp oil and vinegar dressing
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup canned pears
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots

Wow that looks like a lot of food to enjoy and still lose weight!



  • You do need to keep track of servings you eat from each food group
  • You may find foods with less salt to be flavorless at first. Try adding herbs and spices like Mrs Dash

What you need to know

Check with your doctor or a Registered Dietitian like me to see if the DASH is right for you. If you want to know more, you can download a free guide here but let me know if you need help making it work for you.

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