Strive for Health, Not Quick Fixes


Hannah Shulman

A vegetable-only diet can help an individual lose weight and feel healthier.

Shiva Darshan, Contributing Writer

With the large number of juice bars and yoga studios around the city, there has never been a better time to get fit. Wading through the thicket of nutrition and diet advice out there can be overwhelming.

A plethora of advice and information is available to consumers. To students like Yaqing “Stella” Wang, a freshman in Liberal Studies, eating healthier meant sorting through all the health information available online until she found one that worked for her. Wang started a diet based on an article she remembers reading to avoid the freshman 15. She recently cut out most carbs and meat out of her diet.

“I felt sick about eating stuff like that after reading the article,” Wang said. After reading the article, Wang switched over to primarily eating vegetables. She reported losing some weight as well as generally feeling better and healthier because of the diet.

Despite Wang’s success, much of the information online and in books are rife with inaccuracies. According to Lisa Sasson, a registered dietician and clinical associate professor of nutrition at Steinhardt, consumers should be wary of diets that promise too much. Most popular diets, according to Sasson, are unhealthy and unsustainable.

“In many ways, they’re the worst thing you can do,” Sasson said. “People do lose weight, because they are eating less calories…but the diet had nothing to do with it.”

Diets that proscribe certain foods are particularly dubious. According to Charles Mueller, a clinical associate professor of clinical nutrition at Steinhardt, no reputable nutritionist or dietician would advise cutting out an entire food group or ingredient except for medical reasons, such as an allergy or Celiac disease. Mueller cited the gluten-free diet as an example.

“There are all kinds of people on low or no gluten diets who don’t need to be,” Mueller said.

Smaller changes, such as eating less sugar or adding vegetables to each meal, work far better than radical overhauls of one’s diet. CAS junior Raj Sanghvi challenged himself last year to avoid consuming added sugar and as result became more conscious of his sugar intake. Though he has not stopped eating sweets, he eats them more consciously and in moderation.

According to Sasson, the same guidelines that nutritionists have used for years still apply: eat a variety of foods, eat more plants, eat less processed foods and added sugars and exercise more. Both professors also agreed that there is no single solution or quick fix for dieters, but developing healthier eating habits in the long term coupled with exercise is the most effective way to become healthier.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 8 print edition. Email Shiva Darshan at [email protected]