As a wellness professional, I research and write about many different types of nutritional plans, diets or eating approaches. There are many to choose from, and not one that suits all people. In my own book, “The Get REAL Guide to Health and Fitness,” I offer four different eating approaches. This allows the reader to choose the style that not only best meets their needs, but also one they would consider sticking to long-term.
Most “diets” allow people to lose weight, so that is not the problem. The REAL problem is that the restriction is so vast, people will not eat that way forever and when they resume normal eating, the weight creeps back on. However, as demand continues, more diets appear.
There are a handful of basic theories that regularly circulate in new revamped forms, but there are few new ideas. In my book, I pulled the best aspects of many and presented them in four different formats for the reader to choose from. These were not specific diets, where you eat only this or that, they were styles of eating where you eat with purpose and make plan-focused choices based on what you predecided would work best for you.
While flexibility is good for most people, there is also a group of people who need more specific direction and fewer choices. These individuals, when left to their own decision making, have difficulty choosing plan-focused options. No matter how much they desired to do so, it does not work.
They inadvertently sabotage their efforts through a few off-plan choices and become frustrated at their lack of results. Upon discovering that their choices actually caused the set-back, they also must deal with guilt and disappointment. Two emotions that do not promote weight loss.
In my research, I came across the book, “The Dukan Diet,” by Dr. Pierre Dukan. My first thought was here we go again, another lose weight quick book, but as I read through the principals something clicked. He asserts, “What overweight people most hate and simply can’t do is decide for themselves when and how they are going to deprive themselves of food.” His plan is comprehensive; you either take it or leave it, ideal for “all or nothing” types. It is not complicated, you can eat the outlined foods in any quantity you choose.
In this book Dr. Dukan outlines a very simple four phase plan for permanent weight loss. Here is what I liked about his system:
- He painstakingly walks you through the process of finding your true weight and helps you determine a realistic ideal weight (good start).
- His approach uses this information to conclude how long you will need to engage in each phase (sets limits).
- Dr. Dukan writes, “[This is] a system with specific instructions that get them on track, with stages and objectives, leaving no room for ambiguity or deviation.” (This provides framework.)
- He notes the importance of exercise and provides simple daily recommendations (healthy weight loss is not all about food).
- He promotes the essential role of water and how it works to assist the plan.
- He provides real recipes that even Midwesterners would eat.
- He promotes protein as the mainstay of the diet, but works other foods back into the program slowly, based on your number of pounds lost (unlike Atkins).
- He provides a realistic maintenance phase that is reasonable and that is quite possible to maintain.
- He understands that giving guidelines is not enough for many people to lose weight. They need support and accountability. His website provides that for those who go on his program (essential for chronic dieters).
- This plan followed as noted will provide healthy weight loss and results can be seen quickly (provides motivation).
Here is what I did not like:
- He demonizes fat. In my research fat serves a purpose in the diet. It allows you to feel full and satisfied. It helps promote the digestion of fat soluble vitamins and it is a natural food. While too much fat from unhealthy sources is not desirable, it should be much preferred to processed, altered and unnatural foods. In learning more about how the brain and body work together, fat plays a positive role, whereas highly processed foods cause problems.
- This plan is restrictive, especially in phase one. Not everyone is willing or able to withstand this, making it a problem for adherence.
- Diet and artificially sweetened foods are encouraged. Processed and unnatural foods have been shown to slow and hinder natural processes in the body.
- Processed foods, sugars and starches are not allowed in phase one, (1-10 days) minimally in phase three, and not fully allowed until the final phase. For some this would be a deal breaker. They simply could not say no to these foods.
The bottom line is, if you are looking to lose weight, need structure and would be willing to restrict your food options for the first two phases. This plan will lead to weight loss. However, if you are not, starting might do more harm than good. This plan, like any other, requires a commitment.
A half-hearted attempt will only lead to more frustration and perhaps additional pounds. Remember, healthy eating is not supposed be something you do TO yourself, but FOR yourself. Finding a method that works for you makes that possible.
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