Losing the baby weight
We look at some of the most popular mom diets out there and tell you what they're all about. 

Many of us feel a little unhappy with our bodies at some point in our lives. This probably why a lot of us may find oursleves caught up in the latest diet fad sooner or later, sometimes with good results but maybe with bad side effects. We asked dietician Tammy Wolhuter for her thoughts on the popular diet trends.

Weight Watchers

This diet has been around for ages, and you may even remember your mom being on it when you were little! When on this diet, you use a point system to rate the foods you eat during the day, not limiting the types of foods you eat. 

The catch though is that you only get a certain amount of points allotted to you each day. So go ahead, eat that slice of chocolate cake but know that it's going to take a huge chunk out of your points, which influences what you'll be able to eat for the rest of the day.

Tammy says:

The point system helps you to keep track of your calorie intake, but this diet does not teach you how to eat a healthy balanced diet as it indicates that you can eat anything, as long as you stick to your allocated points for the day. What this often leads to is that once you've reached your goal weight, you still may not have an idea about what a healthy balanced diet entails, and so revert to old eating habits.

Remember that a balanced diet entails an energy controlled meal plan rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cerals and their products, with adequate amounts of low fat or fat free dairy products, and lean protein rich foods such as skinless chicken, fat trimmed meat and fish. Unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds and olive oil should be used in moderation, and are also an essential component of a healthy diet. Foods that should be limited as far as possible include those high in sugar, saturated fat and salt: typically sugary drinks, sweets, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, donuts, pies, pastries, chips and deep fried foods. Always question a diet if it does not give these guidelines. 


Taking drastic measures to lose weight may reduce one's intake of many nutrients. A typical example is the high protein diet. This fad diet typically eliminates wholegrain and high fibre carbohydrates (such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, corn, wholegrain bread and sweet potatoes). This results in an inadequate intake of important nutrients- namely: fibre, phytonutrients, certain vitamins (such as vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine) and minerals- since they are not supplied by protein foods.

The Mommy Diet

The host of The Biggest Loser, Alison Sweeney, has just penned her first book, about a topic that us women love to hear and talk about- how to get fit before, during and after baby. She has written the book to be real and funny as it gives advice on fitness, fashion, food, and even sex for busy, harried moms who want to look and feel their best while raising healthy kids.

Tammy says:

This book gives healthy eating guidelines specifically for pregnant women and moms, while including the importance of food safety guidelines and useful recipes. It has an "all round" approach, including exercise guidelines, which is an important part of healthy living. This plan appears to be sustainable and not a "fad diet".

The hCG Diet

It was one of the most popular diets of 2011 and looks to be a biggie for 2012 too. Problem is, it's also the most controversial diet out there right now, because of an injection of the pregnancy hormone hCG and a 500-calorie-a-day meal plan. The fans rave about remarkable weight loss, the critics point to the dangerous and unhealthy protocol for giving people illusions of balanced weight loss. 

Tammy says:

This is a typical fad diet, advising an extremely low daily calorie intake that is bound to leave you feeling drained, and you'll find it hard to cope with your baby! In addition, taking hCG hormone for the wrong reason is not a good idea and doctors should not be prescribing it for wight loss- it is unethical. Although you may lose weight quickly (due to near stravation on this low calorie diet!), you will soon  be hungry enough to eat the wrong foods to compensate for subsequent hunger, and once again, it doesn't teach you how to eat a healthy balanced diet and so maintain any weightloss.


A fad diet is a temporary weight loss programme that may have a negative impact on your health. A fad diet emphasises fast results with minimal effort, encouraging unrealistic expectations, setting the dieter up for failure, subsequent guilt and feelings of helplessness at ever managing a weight problem. Other characteristics of fad diets:

  • Reputable scientific organisations refute the dramatic statements made by promoters of the diet.
  • Recommendations are made based on studies that have been published without any reviews being done by other (independent) researchers.
  • Research is done on the diet where recommendations from other studies ignore the differences among individuals  or groups. The diets are thus based on anecdotal evidence.
  • One or more of the five food groups are elminated from the diet.
  • Known health-related side effects are associated with the diet.

What about a high protein diet?

This is a diet that eliminates fruit and certian vegetables. When this is followed, the recommended "five-a-day"? fruit and vegetable dietary intake is not achieved. This recommendation encourages you to consume essential nutrients found in fresh fruit and vegetables, such as functional fibre, insoluble fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.

The lack of fibre in the diet places you at risk of constipation. In addition, high intakes of meat and too little fibre are associated with an increased risk for colon and rectal cancer. An inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables is also an important dietary risk factor for developing cancer. Sufficient intake of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet may also reduce the risk for other health problems, suvh as heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and obesity. Quite frankly, you just can't afford to live without fruit and vegetables.

The yo-yo effect

We're always in search of a "miracle cure" weight loss solution and are willing to sacrifice our health in order to achieve quick weight loss results. The truth is that there's no miracle cure, and following fad diets often lead to the yo-yo effect- an endless cycle of dieting, putting on weight, dieting again, etc. Rather follow a healthy eating plan for longterm results.



Do not forsake your health in order to lose weight. The only way to reduce weight is to eat healthily while managing your energy intake and ensuring that you participate in regular physical activity. The recommended amount of weight loss is between 0.5 and 1kg per week- anything more than this is considered non-sustainable and usually involves the undesired loss of muscle mass and body water. 

The World Health Organisation recommends a life-course approach of maintaining a healthy balanced diet that is able to provide all the nutrients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients necessary to promote health and prevent disease. 

Regular physical activity is recommended; so is abstaining from smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation (if at all) is optimal. Don't forget your daily intake of water for good hydration. If in doubt, visit a dietician who will assist you with a healthy balanced meal plan to follow to achieve an ideal body weight.

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