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DITCH THE FAD DIETS TO BEAT THE BULGE; HEALTH MATTERS; All those Christmas treats can add up to a weighty problem but don't be tempted by those celeb-endorsed fad diets as a quick New Year fix. Slow and steady will win the race.

It's great to eat, drink and be merry over Christmas but you could have a heavy price to pay in the New Year.

It's estimated that the average person consumes an extra 500 calories per day over the festive period, equal to a possible 5lb gain.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) is keen to help people avoid these unhealthy repercussions.

"Christmas is, of course, a time for lots of fun and special foods," says Sian Porter, consultant dietician.

"The aim isn't to make people feel guilty about indulging at this time of year but to outline the amount of calories that can get consumed and share a few tips people may want to take up, to temper their eating and drinking. Make plans to get yourself and the family active - dancing, shopping and post-meal walks all will help to burn off some calories so you can have a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year holiday period."

Sensible steps like these are far more achievable - and usually far better for us - than many of the more extreme fad diets doing the rounds.

Here are four trendy diets the BDA say people should avoid:

THE PALEO DIET

Miley Cyrus and Matthew McConaughey have reportedly tried the Paleo Plan, also known as the Paleolithic, Caveman and Stone Age Diet.

Only foods thought to be available to Neanderthals in prehistory are allowed, and all other foods - such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, and drinks like coffee and alcohol - are excluded.

However, the BDA say that while eating fewer processed foods and less sugar and salt is a good idea, there's no need to cut any food group out of your diet entirely, unless advised to do so for medical reasons.

In fact the experts warn that cutting dairy completely without very careful substitution could compromise bone health.

Sian says: "This is an unbalanced, time-consuming, socially isolating diet. This could easily be a surefire way to develop nutrient deficiencies that can compromise health and your relationship with food."

THE SUGAR-FREE DIET

As well as banishing the white stuff from the menu, sugar-free diets - reportedly tried by the likes of Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin - often ban carbohydrates too, as these are turned into glucose in the body.

But although the BDA encourage reducing added sugar and sugar-loaded processed foods and desserts, it points out some versions of this diet demand followers cut out all sugar, which is extremely limiting and, potentially, unhealthy.

"This is not only almost impossible," says Sian, "but would mean cutting out foods like veg, fruit, dairy products and nuts - not exactly a healthy, balanced diet.

"Also, substitutes some sugarfree diet plans recommend, such as agave, palm sugar or honey, are actually just sugar in another form, and therefore using them is a huge contradiction."

THE VB6 DIET

Beyonce has reportedly tried this diet, so-named as it's about being vegan before 6pm. But after 6pm nothing, within reason, is off limits.

The BDA say that while it's good that VB6 dieters eat less processed food, and more plant-based foods like beans, pulses, wholegrains, nuts, fruit and vegetables, being vegan doesn't automatically translate into eating healthily.

Sian says: "The danger is that post-6pm becomes a window of opportunity to vaccuum up a myriad of foods high in calories, saturated fat and packed with added salt and sugar, undoing your earlier healthier choices.

"The reality is, eating different food groups at different times of the day doesn't matter - in terms of your health, it's nutritional balance that's important."

THE CLAY CLEANSE DIET

X-Men actress Zoe Kravitz has reportedly tried it this diet, which claims a spoon of clay a day will remove toxins and negative isotopes from the body, helping you cleanse and stay in shape.

However, stay away from the clay, is the advice of the BDA, who point out that the Food Standards Agency issued a warning about the dangers of consuming clay, particularly for pregnant women, after high levels of lead and arsenic were discovered in some products.

In fact, the whole idea of detox is "nonsense", and the body has its own built-in mechanisms to remove waste and toxins.

For more information, visit www.bda.uk.com

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 28, 2014
Words:740
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