Clickbait diets: What to watch out for

Music 10/10/2016

As we become more aware of our health and nutrition, there's a growing variety of weird and wonderful diets we can follow as we try to keep looking young and beautiful.

But amongst the sensible advice, there's a large amount of diets to avoid, Healthy Food Guide editor-in-chief Niki Bezzant says.

"Any diet will work - you will lose weight doing any crazy thing - but we all know anyone who's ever been on a diet knows that you don't keep the weight off," she told Paul Henry. 

There are five main things to watch out for when you want to lose weight, she says. 

What is a 'clickbait' diet? 

Clickbait diets have several things in common, Ms Bezzant says. Firstly they have a "science-ish-sounding theory". They quote a bit of science, it sounds quite plausible, and often it's touted as "revolutionary". 

Often they have a "drastic first phase" of the diet - the first one or two weeks will have a very restricted range of foods, often called a "reboot phase" or something similar. "That's designed so that you'll lose a bit of weight, you'll feel validated and you'll want to keep going on the diet," Ms Bezzant says. 

Another clue to a clickbait diet is if there's a list of foods that are banned. "Sometimes they make sense - cakes, pastries, pies," she says, but sometimes there are arbitrary things like tomatoes or chicken. "As humans we like to rules to follow... you might be told to cut out a whole food group like carbs or grains." 

A real red flag is if a diet prescribes something you must eat with every meal. "Or if there's a supplement or a special formula that you must have to make the diet work, and especially if the person promoting the diet is trying to sell that to you." Ms Bezzant says don't do it. 

Watch out for 'the promise'. "The promise of huge weight loss, glowing skin, shiny hair..." she says we shouldn't trust the diets that promise supernatural results.