Celebrity Diets: The Truth Behind the Secrets (cont.)

"Celebrity plans have a tendency to promote a very quick fix, are hard to stick by and are touting all types of products and when the author doesn't have a degree in health, it can be very scary," agrees Rachel Beller, director of the Brander Nutritional Oncology Counseling and Research Program at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif.

Red Flags Abound

Regardless, these books and diets are often tempting and tantalizing to consumers. Being on the lookout for certain red flags can help separate the wheat from the chafe.

"A red flag is when they are selling food products and supplements that go with the program," Heller explains. "A red flag can be a personal red flag because sometimes these diets can be very expensive and not everyone can afford these foods or are these foods available in every neighborhood," she says.

In other words, watch Dr. Phil on his talk show or Suzanne Sommers on Three's Company reruns, but when looking for a healthy eating plan, look for one that includes foods you can afford and are readily available.

"A lot of the celebrities look fabulous," Heller says, "but they are being paid a lot of money to look that good and they can afford to have a personal chef and meals delivered.

"For the rest of us who are not getting paid that much money and don't have that incentive, we need to find healthy ways of eating that we can incorporate into our lives on a daily basis," Heller states.

Victoria Shanta-Retelny, RD, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Wellness Institute, in Chicago, weighs in with this comment: "Are they making promises that sound too good to be true such as 'lose 10 pounds in a week'? If the claim sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

Any plan that hawks one specific nutrient whether protein, carbohydrate, or fat as a savior or remedy for weight loss, is a red flag. "There is no miracle food," she says.

So why are we so attracted to these diets?

"The draw is celebrity status," she says. "Suzanne Somers is an older woman and to look as good as she looks is appealing," she says. "It's not the diet. It's how these people look that is the draw."

Do as I Do, Not as I Say?

A new diet, the Hamptons diet, bills itself as containing the diet secrets of the rich, famous, and thin who summer on the East End of Long Island, N.Y. -- a.k.a the Hamptons.

Unlike many celebrity diets, a medical doctor authored this book: Fred Pescatore, MD, medical director of Partners of Integrative Medicine in New York City.

The Hamptons diet is "more of an inspirational tool" than a celebrity diet, he says. This low-carb eating plan focuses on whole and organic foods and good fats such as macadamia oil.

"People may be lured in by celebrity diets because of all the confusing and misinformation out there," he says. "There is certainly an element of confusion to nutritional messages," Pescatore says, "People are looking for something that is very black and white in an area that is extremely gray."