By Jennifer Constable
Summer is the season of sun, sea and self-doubt; where our high streets become saturated with barely-there bikinis and handkerchief sized crop tops, modelled by bronzed beauties who might make us momentarily forget that not
everyone actually looks like this. As the summer styles hit the shops, faced with this limited choice of fashion, our hands begin to pinch guiltily at our own soft stomachs, and “generous” thighs, seriously regretting how many Jaffa Cakes we stress-binged on during the exam period, and ashamedly stuffing our neglected gym card to the back of our purse to avoid its accusatory stare.
For many, the exam season, and indeed “uni life” makes us lazy; between an almost exclusive diet of late-night Dominos pizza, and forgoing working out for an extra few hours with your duvet, the typical student doesn’t have the healthiest lifestyle. For those of us planning to escape to more tropical climates this summer, the countdown now may be well and truly on to get that much sought after “beach body”; and luckily for us, the market is flooded with products and “solutions” that promise to give us maximum results with minimal effort, allowing us to shed the pounds and drop the dress sizes in a matter of weeks. But, how effective are these “quick fix” diets? Are the products really worth our time and money or are they a wasted investment, and, most importantly, could they even be damaging?
A shameless follower of fad diets myself, I was intrigued by the detox tea; a relatively new contender in dieting aids which claims to promote weight loss through a blend of natural ingredients in a cleansing herbal tea, with no need to drastically limit your diet- all you had to do was drink the daytime “teatox” once in the morning, and then take the bedtime “teatox” every second night.
Drawn in by its pastel packaging, and the promising “results” selfies girls had posted on Instagram, I ordered my tea at £28.00 (gulp) for a month supply and I’ll admit, after a week of using it, I did start to notice some results; my skin was clearer, I felt less tired and I had already lost a couple of pounds- “Great!” I remember thinking, convinced I’d found the secret holy grail of weight loss. However, the teatox’s initial success was short-lived, and came at a price, with one of the ingredients of the night-time teatox inducing a laxative effect which rendered me house bound and running to the bathroom every other minute. Unable to use the tea anymore, I was left feeling sleep deprived, nauseous, and almost £30 out of pocket. It was, money, quite literally, flushed down the toilet.
Other costly diet supplement that could be reducing our wallets rather than our waistline are diet pills like raspberry ketones, Garcinia Cambogia capsules and Alli slimming capsules. Designed to supress our appetite, speed up our metabolism, and “melt away” our fat, at first glance, these miracle pills appear an ideal solution. But on closer inspection, with prices around the £30, they certainly don’t come cheap. Diet pills are a relatively new weight loss aid, which means that little extensive research has been done into the possible long-term side effects of the drugs (and little evidence to suggest it even works at all) and with many illegal varieties of diet pills also circulating the market, the potential damage to our bodies is unknown.
The detox tea and diet pills are only a couple examples of “quick fix” diets that have proved to be disappointing. Every summer many people take part in crash diets, which, like the name suggests, promise to give quick results for extreme measures, such as the 5/2 diets (where you eat only 500 calories for two days a week), the “Soup Diet”, and fasting.
Beyoncé and Jennifer Aniston may have sworn by some of these diets, but how realistic are they for those of us who don’t have a personal trainer and dietician on speed dial? In real terms, these extreme diets can be in some cases irrevocably damaging to our health, by slowing down our metabolism and stopping us getting important nutrients, which can in turn weaken our immune system and leave us feeling run-down.
Perhaps the most damaging side affect of the quick fix methods is how they make us feel about ourselves; we sip the tea religiously with pinched noses, and live off meagre rice crackers, only to become increasingly frustrated with our bodies as the weight we do manage to lose piles right back on as soon as we slip up, or start eating properly again. We watch the numbers on our scales flit up and down and think “what am I doing wrong?” as we compare our own lack-lustre results against the Photoshopped figures of the “it” girls used by brands to sell us products.
The hard reality is that there is no “quick fix” solution; no miracle diet or product that can miraculously slim us down overnight. “Nothing worth having comes easy” as they say. Instead of paying through the nose for underwhelming teas, pills and tonics, or ruining our bodies following extreme diets, maybe it’s time to dust off the running trainers, delete the Netflix account and swap the takeaways for homemade salads. True, you won’t see instant results, but you’ll be better off, both financially and health wise. Ultimately, you’ll be happier in your own skin.