The Grapefruit Diet. The Pineapple Diet. The Cabbage Soup Diet. The Twinkie Diet? Yes, fad diets might work in the short-term, but do you really think you are going to be happy eating cabbage soup or even Twinkies … forever?
The American food crisis
Americans are in a food crisis. We are the fattest developed country in the world, yet, the most obsessed with dieting and weight loss. Why is it that with two-thirds of our population being either overweight or obese, we love watching reality TV shows like The Biggest Loser, but still can’t manage to achieve healthy eating in our own families?
Fad diets are partially to blame. Instead of looking at the overall quality of the food we eat and making healthy changes to our diet, we grasp onto the dream that if only we could take a magic pill or go on reality TV or eat nothing but watermelon for a week, we will suddenly be thin and happy.
The truth is, our bodies are overrun by dead foods. In order for our digestive system to work properly, we need to eat foods that are fresh, wholesome and rich in nutrients. Preservatives, chemicals, food additives and dyes, hormones, antibiotics and GMOs—all these things that we have added to our foods may make them last longer, easier to grow and cheaper to produce, but unfortunately, the nutrient value is vastly deteriorated. Not to mention, dead foods are difficult for our bodies to process and produce toxins that build up in our cells, which can ultimately cause a variety of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses. As food activist and author Michael Pollan explains, “At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind. “
Rules for healthy eating
If you are looking to lose weight, the best way to begin is to ditch the fad diets and follow some simple diet rules that will help you get on the road to health and happiness.
Eat live foods as much as possible
This does not mean that you should go out and take a bite out of a cow still at pasture. This does mean that you should get the majority of your calories from wholesome living foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Living foods contain all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes that your body needs to run well and stay healthy.
Avoid dead foods
Overly-processed foods, refined foods, foods preserved with chemicals, fast food—these should all be avoided as much as possible. Now we know that it is not easy to turn down a slice of Grandma’s buttery pound cake, but the good news is homemade treats are at least a better choice than a highly processed Twinkie or Hostess Cupcake. Refined white sugars and flours taste yummy, but they have little nutritional value. Try to fill up on foods that are actually feeding your body, and not just weighing you down.
Cook your own meals
The best way to have control over what you are eating is to cook the food yourself. Experiment with new recipes. Try out wholesome grains like spelt or quinoa. Eat healthy low-fat meats and fish. Be bold! Invent something new. Test out exotic fruits and veggies you’ve never tried before. Cook with healthy oils like extra virgin olive, grapeseed and canola.
Don’t be an emotional eater
Many people have an emotional relationship with food. We use it as comfort when we are feeling depressed, anxious or even just bored. To avoid emotional eating, carry around healthy, low-calorie snacks like a handful of nuts, fresh fruit, yogurt or fresh veggies. You will be less likely to hit up the snack machine if you have a healthy treat right there in your pocket.
Count your calories
As shown by the infamous Twinkie diet, the main key to losing weight is counting calories. (Although the Twinkie Diet is certainly not the recommended way to do it. You can lose weight in the short term by eating junk food, but in the long run, your body will suffer.) Even if you are eating wonderful, healthy foods, you may still pack on the pounds if you eat more than your daily caloric intake. Eat slowly. Enjoy your food. Stop eating before you are completely full. Food takes time to digest and you may realize that you are actually full after you’ve let your stomach settle a moment.
Visit a nutritionist
If you need more direct advice on how to improve your health while shedding pounds, a certified nutritionist can offer excellent guidance and will tailor suggestions to your specific health and dietary needs.
More on dieting dangers
Fad diets: What works and what doesn’t?
From cabbage soup to grapefruits, Atkins to the Zone, there are a myriad of diets out there. NewYouTV’s Dr. David Bull separates the good, the bad, the pointless and the dangerous.