With all the fad diets that appear on the internet nowadays, it can be very difficult to select one that really works and is safe for you at the same time. These guidelines will help take the mystery out of your diet dilemma.
How to tell what diet is best for you
There are hundreds of dieting schemes around which promise quick and easy results.
Many are unsafe; many more are expensive, impractical, good for temporary weight loss but impossible to sustain in the long term, or just plain useless.
Never have there been so many diets, and never has there been so much confusing information available. And in the middle of all this confusion is the dieter.
Desperately wanting magic and grasping at everything offered in the hope of achieving a dream of slimness, the dieter proves a rich hunting ground for gimmick producers.
But behind all the technical jargon, the excitement and the exotic claims and counter-claims, there are some hard facts you must know before you can choose the diet best for you.
Here are some sensible guidelines to follow to help you evaluate any good diets:
- Has the author of the diet tried it on hundreds of overweight people, regularly compared the results against a similar number of people on other weight-reducing diets and published the findings in a recognized and reputable medical journal? If the answer is no, regard the diet as experimental at best.
- Is the diet based on some “secret” no one has discovered before? If the answer is yes, move on. These “secrets” do not exist. Remember you can lose weight, temporarily, on any diet. Just paying attention to what you eat will do it, at least for a while.
- Is the diet based on well-balanced nutritional principles? If the answer is no, be careful. A well-balanced diet includes food from the basic groups: meat/protein, dairy, vegetable, fruit, cereal, and grain. Diets that are deficient in any area are not well balanced, and diets with fewer than about 1000 calories a day should be medically supervised.
- Is the person promoting the diet known, respected and knowledgeable in nutrition? If the answer is no, he or she may hope to make quick money with no regard for health and safety. While many doctors have published books on diets, simply being a doctor does not qualify one in nutrition.
- How long has the diet been around? If less than 5 years, view it with suspicion. Anyone can invent a new diet, but only very few survive. At the same time, many old diets that have been resuscitated should be left to their eternal rest. Examples are the high-fat and low-carbohydrate diets. Longevity is not a guarantee of a diet being either safe or successful.
- Is the author of the new diet challenging the recommendations of known authorities? It’s all right to challenge, but a valid claim must be backed by new findings that should be available for scrutiny. Beware the diet producer who challenges everything in sight but has no substantial data to back him or her.
- Does the diet allow for individual preference, practice, and taste? The meal plan should be flexible, allowing you to eat the foods you like and have meals according to the rhythm of your lifestyle. Rigid diets that tell you what and when to eat and give you no nutritional information are doomed to fail.
- Could you live on this for the rest of your life? Weight-control is a full-time, lifelong effort. One-week or 14-day diets offer temporary weight loss at best. Then what? You need to take the weight off and keep it off. That means a life plan.
- Is the claim made that the diet is based on the principles of another expert or a health association? If so, what do they think of this diet? More than one best-selling book has been written by one person and based on another’s research. In almost every case, the original proponent of the principle was not consulted, and in fact, would not have approved of the other’s work.
What are the daily nutritional guidelines?
Sound principles of nutrition involve clear guidelines. We should:
- Increase the daily consumption of complex carbohydrates (starches) and “naturally-occurring” sugars by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Lower cholesterol intake by eating less red meat, butter and eggs and more poultry and fish; substitute non-fat milk for whole milk.
- Reduce the total amount of dietary fat and decrease the ratio of saturated to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats do this by avoiding fatty foods.
- Reduce sugar consumption by about 40 percent.
- Reduce salt intake.
Consulting your doctor before starting a new diet
If you need or decide to lose weight, do so gradually. A steady loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week – until you reach your goal – is relatively safe and more likely to be maintained.
Long-term success depends upon acquiring new and better habits of eating and taking regular exercise. Crash diets usually fail in the long run because the eating pattern cannot be maintained.
Many crash diets are severely restricted in the variety of foods they allow, and consequently nutritionally dangerous. Diets containing fewer than 800 calories a day can be hazardous.
Some people have developed kidney stones, disturbing psychological changes and other complications following such diets. A few people have died without warning.
To lose weight satisfactorily, increase physical activity, eat fewer fatty foods, less sugar, and sweet things, avoid too much alcohol.