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Eating plan - yes, diet - no!

A long term approach to food will give the best results

Author: Charlotte Kuchinsky May 12 2011

dieting figure with measuring tape

Today, people are beginning to realize that fad diets don’t work. While some of them may cause short-term weight loss, that is seldom the case over the long term, and many people end up gaining more weight than they started with. The true road to weight reduction begins with a change in the way one thinks about food - and that doesn’t come in a pill or any kind of diet trend.

Everyone has foods that are difficult to resist. For some people it is bread, for others it is sweets; still others like things that are both salty and high in calories. These become comfort foods that are turned to when the day isn’t going right or when life spins out of control. The problem is that most of us don’t quit with one or two bites; instead, we continue eating until the whole loaf of bread, carton of ice cream, or bag of pretzels is finished. It is this binge-eating routine that must be broken. That is not to say that anyone should be forced to give up the foods they love - the trick, instead, is learning how to balance those with a healthy diet.

Nutrition should be key in any eating plan. Notice that I purposely said "eating plan" and not diet. It is important to remove the word diet from the vocabulary when it comes to weight loss, as "diet" implies everything bad, meaning also that you are only allowed only small portions. Even then, the food that is allowed is often bland and boring. "Diet" also means that one is deprived of even the most occasional treat. For that reason, the process is destined to fail.

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Most people understand that a healthy eating plan includes fruits and vegetables. They are essential for obtaining enough vitamins and minerals to keep the body in good working condition. Dairy products are also recommended. However, some eating plans call for fat-free choices, while others tout the nutritional value of whole products. Another debate rages with regard to grains, but most agree on one thing; whole-wheat grains are preferable to anything made with white flour or seminola.

More controversy lies between those who like poultry and meat and those who are strict vegetarians or vegans. Both are capable of making a solid case for their particular type of eating plan. Even more controversy surrounds those who believe in eating plans that are totally fat or sugar free; some physicians are quick to note that the body actually requires a certain amount of "healthy fat" and "natural sugar".

So who is right and who is wrong? The answer isn’t simple because that varies from person to person, so what works well in one individual’s eating plan may not work well for another. That is why eating plans need to be customized to the individual for whom they are designed.

An interesting theory surfaced a few years ago that suggested eating foods in certain combinations might help to metabolize food better. Actress Suzanne Somers met with dozens of doctors, nutritionists, and health gurus who subscribed to this theory before developing her Somersize program. The essence of Somersizing is to eliminate as much chemicals, additives, and preservatives from the diet while also eliminating whole sugar and caffeine.

The program teaches participants how to combine foods together to metabolize them optimally. While it requires elimination of sugars, starches and white flower products during the weight loss phase, those can be added back in during the maintenance phase. The beauty of this and other similar plans on the market today is that no one has to feel deprived of eating their favorite foods. They simply have to learn how to eat them properly and in moderation. Another key factor was learning to eat on a regularly scheduled basis including breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, and dinner. No eating was allowed two or less hours before bedtime.

Before beginning any type of eating plan, however, it is important to clear it through a physician. Every person’s body is unique and has its own set of issues. A trained physician and nutritionist can tailor an eating plan to suit any specific need. Certain vitamins and minerals may also be prescribed to supplement the plan, in order to ensure a proper balance. Most of all, one must realize that changing the way you eat is only part of the solution; while cutting calories and metabolizing food better is a step in the right direction, it alone will not solve the problem. Exercise is the other key component.

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