You may be wondering why I am writing a post on 2014 Diet Trends when it is already May. I know that most people start their diets at the beginning of the year. BUT . . . that does not mean you can’t start now – or any time for that matter. The right time to diet is when you are ready and willing to fully commit to the process.
It is on my mind at the moment because I just started a diet a couple of weeks ago and found a lot of good information that I wanted to share with you. The post will be in two parts. Part I – Recommended Diets; and Part II – Diets to Avoid.
When choosing the best diet for you, make sure that it is one that incorporates whole body health. Those are the types of diets that are more likely to be successful because they are developed with the intent to take care of the whole you – with consideration for any specific health problems you may be having.
For example, if you are suffering with arthritis, it would be wise to choose a diet that is geared toward helping people with that specific condition. When you find one, you are doubling the benefits – losing weight to help you look and feel better and weight loss for pain relief.
A well-structured plan makes it easier to stay on the diet. A plan that outlines what you should eat and also includes a good exercise regimen based on your health needs will help you succeed.
Some people lose weight more easily that others and some diets are better for certain medical conditions, than others. For that reason, it is important to find a diet that suits your needs. It is about your health, not just about the size you want to wear or your ideal weight.
With that perspective in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular and safe diet plans for 2014.
Primary rule of dieting – avoid all fad diets and extreme diets that have the potential of damaging your health. There are a multitude of plans available – some are safe and some are risky. It is up to you as the consumer to do your research and make an informed decision. So, let’s begin . . .
DASH DIET – This diet is touted as a good choice for people with high blood pressure who need to lose weight for health reasons. It was originally developed for people with hypertension and prehypertension. It is safe, effective, and highly recommended – including the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic. The National Institutes of Health has given the DASH DIET a stamp of approval. US News & World Report selected the DASH diet as the best diet for the 4th year in a row (3 January 2014).
Since it is based on a well-balanced diet of real food, it is not only a good diet for people with specific health problems, it is also a solid weight loss program for anyone. Studies have shown that is works particularly well for people who are carrying excess weight around the middle, who have type 2 diabetes, PCOS, or postmenopausal weight gain.
MEDITERRANEAN DIET is considered a lifestyle change rather than a diet. This is due to the fact that it is based on the natural diet of Greece, Spain, and Italy. It is a heart healthy diet – great for anti-aging and long life.
This is an excellent choice if your goal is not only to lose weight, but to get fit and to change your eating habits for a life time. You will learn to eat a healthy diet of primarily plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts) plus fish and poultry.
An important component of the diet is to learn to cook with heart healthy fats that also contribute to weight loss. Another component that many people consider a plus is that unlike most diets rather than excluding all alcohol, the Mediterranean Diet recommends the inclusion of red wine because of the antioxidants it contains, plus other benefits that are good for the heart.
PALEO DIET (AKA the Caveman Diet). That is a nickname which comes from the fact that the diet is based on pure, natural foods – “eating like the caveman.” The diet is composed of natural plant- and animal-based foods. It is important to eliminate all processed foods, plus foods that are at odds with good health (grains, legumes, and dairy). In addition it calls for an increase of foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (lean protein, fruits, and vegetables).It also limits dairy and alcohol and excludes salt and most drinks.
The diet contributes not only to weight loss, but is said to also improve blood pressure, clear-up acne, help to create healthier blood glucose, fight inflammation, aid in more restful sleep and higher energy levels, and help with establishing healthier eating habits.
WEIGHT WATCHERS has been around for a long time and has an impressive track record among the general population and celebrities alike who have lost weight and kept it off.
The emphasis of Weight Watchers is on food choices, healthy eating and exercise. For people who need a support group to help them lose weight – this is a good system.
They offer both Online programs as well as live meetings for support. If you can’t make a meeting, you can still track your goals and progress Online and access peer support. Many participants swear that one of the most powerful parts of the program is the support they receive at meetings. They feel that is what keeps them focused and helps them to lose weight. The company also has mobile apps that allow people on the go to keep up with their points.
The Weight Watchers program is based on a Food Points’ System. When you initially enroll, you will be assigned a number of points that you can accrue each day through the foods you choose to eat. No foods are off limits. It isn’t the foods that you eat, it is the number of points that you use. However, the goal is to learn to make better, healthier food choices and to exercise.
It is a very robust system with recipe suggestions, exercise tips, and even guidelines for using the point system when eating out (real life). It is a good system that works for men, women, and even children who need to shed a few pounds.
JENNY CRAIG’s system is based on portion control, which is frequently one of the challenges for people who are carrying extra weight. Jenny Craig offers packaged healthy meals based on portion control.
Food is a very social thing – all the good times in life are celebrated with food – even in the worst of times. Many of us (like me) are stress eaters. When I am frustrated, disappointed, worried, or stressed for any reason, I think about food and usually indulge – often with foods that I should not eat. In fact, when I am really stressed, portion control goes out the window. Have you ever eaten an entire pint of ice cream by yourself in one sitting? Or – half a pound of See’s Candy? I have.
If you are among the number of people who struggle with food addictions and portion control, Jenny Craig could be a good choice for you. The food choices are healthy, well-balanced, tasty, and come in a wide variety – everything from hamburgers to stew, plus breakfast foods and desserts. The choices are so numerous that boredom is not likely (as with some diets).
Because the meals are packaged for you, there is little chance you will eat too much at one sitting. When you register for the system, you will be assigned a consultant who will guide you in choosing the best meal plan for you based on your lifestyle. For example, weight and the amount of exercise that you get each day, plus other issues such as emotional eating are all factored into the selection.
Jenny Craig has been able to help diabetics control their glucose through healthy eating and also help those with a family history of diabetes to learn healthy eating habits that will possibly prevent them from developing the condition.
The downside of this diet is that it can be expensive. If you are under budgetary constraints, I do not recommend Jenny Craig. It does work, but it requires an investment. For example it is not unusual to spend $140 a week for just one person. So, take that into consideration when making your decision.
VEGETARIAN DIETS – You may be under the assumption that vegetarian diets are strictly for people who want to make a lifestyle change – and eat only plant-based foods. For the most part that is accurate; however, a good vegetarian diet can help with a number of health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes – and, it can also help you lose weight.
A true VEGAN DIET excludes all animal-based foods. However there are variations. For example – a Lacto-Vegetarian excludes meats and eggs; but, allows other dairy products.
Another type of vegetarian diet is called FLEXITARIAN, which does allow meat on occasion. The diet is primarily whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, plus dairy and meat when you really want it. The premise of this diet is about “listening to your body.” If your body is craving something you would not normally eat, then you should eat it. It is also a heart healthy diet if done correctly. You will lose weight on this diet and it may also help lower cholesterol, lessen the risk of diabetes and some cancers – plus, give you more energy.
As you have probably guessed, I am not a vegetarian and far from an expert on the subject. If eating vegetarian appeals to you, there is a great deal of information available both in books and on the Internet – and good explanations of the different types of vegetarian diet choices. If you decide to go this way, be sure to do your homework and follow a guide from a reputable source to be sure you are getting all the nutrients you need.
I am not a doctor or nutritionist, and it is always recommended the you discuss any diet with your physician before embarking on a weight loss program. This is particularly important if you have any health concerns or issues.
That does it for the recommended diets. Join us next time (on Thursday) for Diets to Be Avoided.