Fad dieting has become so entrenched in US culture that it is seen by many as a normal part of daily life. It has become almost chic to be on the latest fad diet. Fad dieting has become so common place that it has actually created its own $61 billion industry. But is Yo-Yo or fad dieting really safe or is it a sign of a more serious issue? When we hear the word eating disorder, we immediately think of anorexia and bulimia. But did you know that perpetual dieting can be considered an eating disorder?According to Psychology Today, people who diet are eight times as likely to develop an eating disorder as people who don’t diet. Dieting is like a gateway drug that can trap someone in a vicious cycle of eating disorders which can take years to overcome. In fact, studies show that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders. This suggests that fad dieting is indeed a type of eating disorder.As the research suggests, fad dieting can progress to other types of eating disorders as well. Approximately 10 million women and one million men in the United States struggle with anorexia and bulimia. There are another 25 million who suffer from binge-eating disorder. There is an epidemic of eating disorders in our country that is causing more serious effects than being overweight may cause. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. Below are more statistics from ANAD related to fad dieting and eating disorders. Unfortunately fad dieting is starting to negatively affect girls at a younger age as the research shows:• 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness• Over 50% of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade want to lose weight because of magazine pictures.• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.These statistics show that fad dieting is a real problem and only getting worse as girls feel the pressure to be thin at earlier ages. Has our culture digressed so far that nearly half of 1st grade girls worry about being thinner? These statistics show how fad dieting can lead to other eating disorders which may lead to depression and even death. Fad dieting is a serious issue with serious consequences.When you are on a diet, are you really focused on optimal health? Or are you only focused on the weight loss? Do you jump from diet to diet? Do you let your dieting and weight control your life? Then it’s likely that you are a fad dieter. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are engaging in fad (pathological) dieting, here are some elements taken from Scared Skinny No More, which will allow you to see the difference between healthy eating and fad dieting (eating disorders).• A healthy diet is focused on healthy weight loss. An eating disorder (fad diet) is an unhealthy way to lose weight.• A healthy diet makes your body stronger. An eating disorder (fad diet) makes the body weaker and can cause numerous health complications.• A healthy diet can be enjoyable and still allows one to live life. An eating disorder (fad diet) is not enjoyable and takes over a person’s life.• A healthy diet is about helping yourself become healthier and stronger. An eating disorder (fad diet) focuses on what others think of you and draws attention for the wrong reasons.• A healthy diet affects one’s health and choice of foods. An eating disorder (fad diet) affects every aspect of your life.Fad diets are not a quick fix and will never get you fit. The most effective way to control weight is to eat healthy natural foods. Diet foods and processed foods in general are not healthy choices. In fact before the prevalence of processed foods in the 1980’s, the obesity rate was slightly less than 10 percent, yet today the rate is over 30 percent. What was the major difference in eating before 1980’s and now? Before the 1980’s, people ate natural foods. They rarely ate foods that were processed, mainly because very few existed, yet there were over 20,000 food products, including health and diet food products, introduced to the US market in 2010 alone.So, eat healthy natural foods. The answer may sound simple, but in a processed food product culture it is not always so simple. You have to make a conscious effort to change how and what you eat, or you will fall right back into the processed food trap.Here are a few tips and strategies that I recommend to change your eating habits in six weeks, so that you can be fit regardless of your body shape or your age. Six weeks is the amount of time we have found that is optimal for creating new habits. While a lifestyle change also needs to include regular exercise, a healthy diet is one of the major factors in weight control and overall health. These strategies will help you focus on eating for your health.• Start every morning by drinking 8-10 oz of cold water. Not only are you typically dehydrated after sleeping all night, but this will “wake” the body up and get the chemical reactions going.• Don’t skip breakfast and make sure to eat protein.• Include a quality source of protein with every meal and snack.• Consume beans, and fibrous carbs, such as broccoli, squash, zucchini, and peppers & limit fruit intake.• Make sure to include foods that are good Omega 3 sources (wild salmon, halibut, avocados, nuts, Macadamia oil) as these help burn more of your body fat.• Avoid: Processed foods, and refined carbs such as white bread, pasta and rice that are low in fat and spike blood sugar.• Plan your menu at the beginning of the week to ensure good food choices. Cut up veggies to store in containers for the week.Eating healthy is not about cutting out certain nutrients, or following some crazy meal plan. Fad diets create a sense of desperation and despair. With a nearly 100 % failure rate, it’s no wonder that fad dieting often progresses to pathological dieting and other eating disorders. It is time to change the fad dieting insanity and reverse the trend that is now affecting even our young children at an alarming rate. Ditch the diets, throw away the processed foods, and begin to eat for your health. Let today be a new beginning for you and your family. Focus on eating real natural foods that will actually help you look and feel fit!