Very rarely does the term "diet" bring happy images to mind. For most people, deprivation, frustration, and disappointment are more in tune with how they feel about diets. According to Colorado University, 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 4 men are on a diet at any given time, and two-thirds of dieters regain the weight within one year. Virtually all have gained it back within 5 years. This begs the question: is there such a thing as a successful diet? In my experience, the most successful diets are the ones that make changing your eating habits part of a lifestyle as opposed to following a certain regimen for a short period of time. Here are some of my favorite "diet" concepts.
This isn't so much a diet as it is a way of eating. It focuses on foods that are high in volume, but low in calories. The idea is to incorporate more of these high volume foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains) into your daily routine to help fill you up without filling you out. For example, for about 880 calories, you could have either 1 cup of cashews or 8 baked potatoes with salsa. Not very many people are able to eat 8 baked potatoes in one sitting because they would be on the verge of bursting, but most of us could put away a cup of cashews with no problem. The idea of volumetrics has been popularized by leading experts in the field of weight management including Dr. Barbara Rolls in her book The Volumetrics Eating Plan and by Dr. Shapiro in Picture Perfect Weight Loss.
The Mediterranean Diet
Don't let the word "diet" in the name scare you. As the people who are fortunate enough to leave near the Mediterranean will tell you, the Mediterranean Diet is very much a lifestyle. In fact, they're probably confused as to why their way of eating is even considered a diet to some people. Who wouldn't like a diet that allows you to enjoy things like fish, olive oil, wine, fresh fruits and vegetables, and minimally processed grains? Plus you get the added bonus of all of the amazing health benefits!
The idea of eating strictly unprocessed food products appeals to people on both a moral and health-conscious level. Most processing not only deteriorates the nutritional value of our food, but it also puts a huge strain on our natural resources. By choosing to eat unprocessed products, you are enjoying the food in its most natural state, which is also usually its most healthful state. However, you should be aware that some foods, such as dairy products, require some amount of processing (pasteurization) before they are safe for human consumption.
So the next time you're thinking of going on a diet ask yourself this: Can I sustain these adjustments for life? If the answer is no, then I would encourage you to opt for a "diet" that becomes a way of eating - for life.
Brianna Wilson, MS, RD is a dietitian and freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Brianna received a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from California State University, Fresno and a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Boston University. She currently works with an adult weight management program through Winchester Hospital. She is passionate about food and eating and enjoys teaching others about the preventative benefits of following a healthy lifestyle. Contact Brianna via email at briwilsonRD@gmail.com.