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The Best Way to Diet

Why Fad Diets Suck


Updated May 08, 2014

What Is the Best Way to 'Diet?'

Start by getting the word "diet" out of your brain. You want to make a lifestyle change that will allow you to maintain a healthy weight by eating nutrient-dense foods from all of the food groups in the amounts that are right for your body. And you don't need to completely eliminating anything - even an occasional treat is okay.

Slow down and give yourself enough time to really change the way you eat. You didn't gain 30 pounds in ine month so don't expect to lose it all so quickly. Determine how many calories you need each day to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Keep track of everything you eat and drink with a food diary for a few months until eating healthful foods becomes a way of life.

Allow room for small treats. Most of us get sugar cravings that aren't good for us but taste yummy and the longer you fight a craving the worse it gets until you finally bury your face right in a bag of greasy potato chips.

Eating should be pleasurable as well as nutritious, so go ahead and indulge a little (before the cravings turn to monsters). The United States Deptartment of Agriculture's old food pyramid and new MyPlate allows you to have about 100 discretionary calories every day so you can enjoy a cup of soda, a handful of chips, half a candy bar, or a small cookie. The key is not to let the cup of soda turn into a 64-ounce super-sized soft drink every day, let the handful of chips become a big bag of chips.

Healthy Diet Tips

  • Pay extra attention to eating fruits and vegetables, they are the key to good health.
  • Choose whole grains instead of processed white breads and cereals.
  • Enjoy lean meats, poultry and fish, but watch your portion sizes.
  • Get enough calcium with low-fat dairy products, supplements or calcium-fortified foods.
  • Cook with heart-healthy canola and olive oils.
  • Don't skip breakfast, people who eat breakfast tend to stay at a healthy weight.
  • Start your dinner with a soup or eat a salad as your dinner.
  • Keep a food diary for a few months until choosing nutritious foods becomes habit.
  • Don't forget about exercise -- physical activity burns calories and builds muscle.

Think you know fad diets? Find out with this fad diet quiz. What was your past year like? If your diet and lifestyle habits need a little upgrade, I've got help: A Healthy New Year.


Shai I, Schwarzfuchs D, Henkin Y, Shahar DR, Witkow S, Greenberg I, et.al., "Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet." N Engl J Med. 2008 Jul 17;359(3):229-41.

Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, King AC. "Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial." JAMA. 2007 Mar 7;297(9):969-77.

"Weight cycling. National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity." JAMA. 1994 Oct 19;272(15):1196-202.

Health-e-Weight for Women, Nutrition Basics. "Fad Diets: What You May Be Missing." Brigham and Women's Hospital. Updated 2/11/2008.

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