According to a 2010 Nutrisystem Diet Index™ consumer survey, many Americans would “pass up a work promotion to drop 10 to 20 pounds.” The study also found that 73% of Americans would “toss their cell phones and give up watching TV to have a toned tummy.”
The desire to lose weight — either to fit into a swimsuit, or to combat pre-diabetes — is leading many to try out 2012’s buzzed about diet plans.
This year’s most popular diets include the DASH diet, the TLC diet, Weight Watchers, the Ornish diet, and Jenny Craig, writes Los Angeles Times reporter Jeannine Stein.
Each diet has a specific focus and is geared toward a targeted audience.
A DIET FOR EVERY LIFESTYLE
U.S. News and World Report’s “Diet Plans that Work” calls the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet the best for healthy eating. The diet relies heavily on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
The TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change) diet — runner up to DASH — aims to cut cholesterol — claiming to reduce bad LDL cholesterol by 8 to 10% in six weeks. TLC was created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program and is endorsed by the American Heart Association.
For those looking to lose weight without giving up favorite foods, Weight Watchers came out on top. The program scored high marks for allowing dieters to eat what they want — within a points limit.
The Ornish diet, which tackles nutrition, exercise, stress management, and emotional support, was ranked highest among heart-healthy diets.
Jenny Craig was rated highly for its prepackaged meals, delivered directly to a dieter’s door. On the Jenny Craig plan, participants are discouraged from cooking their own meals or dining out.
WHY DIETERS FAIL
Choosing the right diet is only part of the ongoing process of losing and maintaining weight, says Odette Smith-Ransome, faculty chair of Culinary Arts and Hotel & Restaurant Management at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
“Most people aren’t successful in their dieting efforts because they are dieting for many of the wrong reasons, like getting into a dress for a special event, or to make someone else happy. To be successful in dieting you need to do it for yourself, and you need to make it a change in your life, not just a diet.”
Ransome believes that dieters need to commit themselves to establishing new, healthier eating habits.
“The victory has to come from within,” she states.
She adds that most Americans don’t know what a proper portion of food looks like.
“We live in a super-sized world where a portion of orange juice should be 4 ounces. But when we order a glass of OJ we get 16-20 oz. portion.”
Ransome asserts that Weight Watchers is a solid choice for dieters because it does not limit any type of food. Instead, it forces a dieter to be responsible for what — and how much — he or she is eating.
She advises dieters to seek out plans that include all major food groups — and to avoid any plan that’s hyped as a “wonder drug.”
As a culinary professional, Ransome has created a favorite healthy recipe that she enjoys sharing with friends — or even as an everyday snack.
“(It) is extremely simple: Add 1 tablespoon of minced crystallized ginger to 1 cup of lemon yogurt. Mix well and refrigerate overnight. Serve as a dip with fresh fruit.”
INCORPORATING DIETING INTO THE REAL WORLD
Prepackaged foods make it easy to stay on course, but what happens when a dieter has a business lunch meeting? Or just wants to meet up with friends for dinner?
To help dieters stick with the plan, restaurants are offering more healthy items, Ransome says.
“When the Atkins diet was at its peak, there were a lot of places where you could get low-carb offerings. Now that the fad has passed, these foods have left the menus of most establishments,” she states.
But Weight Watchers has been quick to fill that void, working with many restaurants to offer foods that fit into its PointsPlus plan.
“Most restaurants will offer a low-fat, low-calorie item or two just because so many people are on diets. Some are based on health issues — heart smart foods for example — and others are just low calorie. A lot of places are also paying attention to allergies and are making changes in their menu to cut some of the major allergens,” according to Ransome.
Dieting success can be fleeting or lifelong. But choosing the correct diet to reach a desired weight goal is only part of the equation — dieters should begin a healthy eating plan that they can embrace long term. And they need to remember the golden rule of losing weight — you must take in fewer calories than you expend.
Written by freelance talent for Ai InSite
Contributing writer for EDMC.