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Dietician shares knowledge of fad diets

Dietician shares knowledge of fad diets

Wellness Week 2019 kicked off with “So You’re Thinking of Going on a Diet….”  Students had the opportunity to enjoy their lunch while listening to a registered dietitian and assistant director of the department of health promotion and wellness at UA, Sheena Gregg. 

Dieting can be difficult and physically taxing. Many strive for quick weight-loss results without thinking of the potential harm a diet can cause. With the influence of social media, fad diets seem to draw interest, as they tend to portray a speedy route to weight loss. 

Wellness Week 2019 kicked off with the “So You’re Thinking of Going on a Diet….” seminar.  Sheena Gregg, a registered dietitian and the assistant director of the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, presented the event in the Ferguson Center to students as they enjoyed their lunch. 

The presentation touched on common diets such as the paleo diet, Whole 30, keto diet, intermittent fasting/time-restricted feeding, juicing, gluten-free diet and the Mediterranean diet. Gregg said she wanted the presentation to showcase these popular diets while explaining the pros and cons of each because, due to social media platforms, people can easily be misinformed of what the diets require.

“As a dietician, I think it is very important for someone to really know the pros and cons of a particular diet before pursuing it,” Gregg said. “In an appointment with a student, I like to present that information to them and really put them in the driver’s seat in deciding if they think it’s best for them or not.  Of course I share my professional opinion with them, but I want them to know that I just ultimately want to help them reach their health goals in a safe way.”

Gregg emphasized the importance of consuming carbohydrates, proteins and fats to function properly. These food groups are what fuels the body and gives it the energy needed to accomplish tasks in our daily lives.

Kaci Anders, a senior majoring in nursing at Bevill State Community College, is a trainer at 9Round Fitness in Tuscaloosa and Northport. For runners or people who are often physically active, it is hard to function on a low-carb diet, Anders said. She has to have carbs to function.

“I try to focus mainly on, you know, eating healthy carbs, eating more protein because it keeps you full longer, and you know, staying away from hardcore sugars,” Anders said. “That doesn’t mean you don’t eat something you like every once in a while, because I mean honestly that is a little good for you. It keeps your metabolism good.”

Anders said she has seen how some diets, such as low-carb diets, can have an effect on a person’s physical performance.  Energy levels can drop on diets that don’t provide proper nutrition to fuel the body.

Nutrition is something everyone should focus on, Gregg said. It’s a red flag when entire food groups or entire groups of nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates or fats are limited. Those limitations are something people need to be on the lookout for when they are seeking a particular nutrition program, she said.

Anders said she believes everything is good in moderation and suggests that those considering a new diet to be realistic with their goals to avoid setting themselves up for failure.

“A lot of people tend to [say], ‘I wanna lose this much weight,’ and they’ve never been active,” Anders said. “They’ve never eaten healthy in their whole life, and they want to do Whole 30. I would say start with maybe planning out what you’re going to eat, eating something healthy for every single meal, and don’t be so strict on yourself. ”

Before someone tries a new diet Gregg said they need to consider their lifestyle and budget.  Certain diets can require more expensive food or extra cooking time. With a busy schedule and tight budget, many diets can be out of reach for college students dining on a dime.

Gregg suggests those who want to go on a diet partner with their doctor or a dietician to ensure they are getting professional input when it comes to pursuing a particular nutrition program.

Becca Paholski, a graduate student studying human environmental sciences, attended the event and said she gained knowledge she did not know before the presentation.

“I definitely learned a lot about the different diets and like, you know you hear about them but you don’t actually know what they are about and the impact they have on your body,” Paholski said. 

Paholski said she has not personally tried any of the diets that were presented but she has heard of them, and that the presentation allowed her to put dieting in a new perspective.

“I learned a lot,” Paholski said. “I’m also going to go to some of the other [Wellness Week] events, so it’s something that I really enjoy.”

Gregg offers appointments for students, and she is available to help create personalized nutrition plans. Appointments can be made in myBama’s Student Health Center patient portal.