There are many diet plans out there that will help you to get the weight off quickly but many do not give you a long-term strategy for keeping the weight off. Many are restrictive or formulaic and do not teach you how to handle “the goodies” that caused the weight gain in the first place. US News and World Report ranked over 30 popular diet plans recently. They were ranked based on ease, success with both long and short-term weight loss, beneficial effect on both diabetes and hypertension, nutrition and safety.
US News and World Report ranked the DASH diet or the Dietary Approach for Stopping Hypertension came in first place over all. The DASH diet focuses on salt restriction, getting regular physical activity most days of the week, and eating whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy. It is similar to the Mediterranean Diet, the TLC diet and the Mayo Clinic Diet. It gives you calorie guidelines based on age, sex and activity level. The DASH Diet is a practical diet that looks at the big picture when making food choices with the focus on treating high blood pressure while also losing weight. It is not a quick weight loss gimmick, rather a life long way to eat for health while reaching and maintaining an ideal weight.
The DASH Diet has no short-term food restriction that leads to feelings of deprivation. It teaches people from the start about eating for health. It implies that one’s relationship with processed snack foods, desserts and sweets must change for good. That means coming to terms with desserts, chips, cookies, ice cream, candy and all those other temptations. The diet recommends limiting sweets for those on a 2000 calorie diet who are sedentary to no more than 5 servings a week. Their examples of sweets include 1/2 cup of sherbet, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of jelly and 1 cup of lemonade.
Wow, really, one tablespoon of sugar is considered a serving of sweet? Think about how often candy jars are raided during the work day or muffins and donuts are offered during staff meetings. Think about the drink with the side dish of crunchy munchies enjoyed after work. Think about the pizza that is brought in for lunch on Friday. Think about the late night ice cream eaten from the half gallon container. Is that serving really just a half of cup? If I had to list one area that would make the biggest impact towards weight loss from my experience as a health coach and diabetes educator, it would be around the consumption of the goodies. If you really are looking to lose weight permanently, you need to develop a long-term strategy for managing these temptations.
No matter what diet you choose you still need to make a decision on how you are going to handle the goodies, plain and simple. It means knowing yourself and your triggers. You need to determine if you are someone who can ration those yummy morsels or if you need to ban them from the house. Personally, I can’t keep potato chips in the house; they are just too tempting for me.
Then you need to look at your work environment and even your driving route. Maybe it means asking a coworker to put a less tempting candy in that dish, (like Good and Plenty-who likes licorice anyway?) Maybe it means packing a lunch on the pizza day and not sitting by the pizza. And if your drive home takes you by McDonald’s with the aroma of French Fries wafting in the air before you even see those golden arches, then maybe you need to change your driving route and keep a healthy snack in the car to help with those hunger pains.
A Time For Mourning The Goodies
Yes, goodies are comforting, illicit fond memories from childhood, and taste so wonderful, but they have gotten out of hand in our culture. Desserts, other than nuts and fruits rolled in honey, never existed until the evolution of sugar in the middle ages. Now, they are a culmination to every dinner, sometimes lunch and part of many snacks. But the fact is, if someone is really serious about losing weight it means looking at these goodies in a different light because they are calorie laden, contribute to the insulin spike and weight gain, and add little nutritive value to our diet. However, it is possible to eat fewer goodies and still enjoy life! It all depends on how you frame your “payback” which I will discuss next time.