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Dieting is nothing new to the U.S., but various diets fly in and fade away. Atkins, South Beach, and the Zone are just a few of the fad diets that have come and gone. So what makes a diet stick around, and more importantly, how do you know if a diet is safe and effective?

With a new diet or weight loss pill on the market seemingly every day, it’s important that you are armored with the knowledge to spot a gimmick. Americans spend billions of dollars each year on the weight loss industry, including products that are nonscientific with unproven claims. First, do some quality research. Remember: not everything you read on the internet is true! Review articles in peer-reviewed journals, not simply on social media platforms or .com (commercial) domains, which may have hidden agendas or be of opinion only. Some search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, allow you to perform an “advanced search.”  Limit the search to the most credible domains: .gov (government agencies) or .edu (educational institutions). An effective diet is one that has shown positive health outcomes and safety in the long-term. Proving effectiveness may require multiple large studies, as you should not generalize from just one or two small studies.

Second, learn the red flags. A promise of a quick fix, elimination of a certain food or an entire food group, or diets backed by celebrities, not by credible organizations, are all things that should prompt you to take a closer look. Beware of diets that list “good” and “bad” foods.  All food should be able to fit into an eating plan, but you may need to limit the frequency and amount you take in. It’s okay to have some skepticism when reading and hearing nutrition and health information. You shouldn’t settle for untrustworthy advice!


Cucumber Tomato Salad (Printable PDF)

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon pepper

2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped 

½ red onion, sliced

2 avocados, diced

¼ cup chopped cilantro


Whisk lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, avocado and cilantro. Toss gently until evenly combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 4 servings


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 220 calories, 20 grams fat, 120 milligrams sodium, 13 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 4 grams protein