The holidays and the leftover desserts will soon be behind us, which means that many Americans will once again be resolve to make some changes beginning January 1. Several statistical websites reveal that the top three resolutions typically include losing weight, getting fit, and living life to the fullest. Fortunately, all three of those goals can be achieved with one lifestyle change….namely, diet.
There are hundreds of diet plans on the market today. In addition to the mainstream diet plans we see advertised with their celebrity spokespeople, a quick google search reveals such things as the Cabbage Soup diet, the Cookie diet, the Leek diet, the Baby Food diet, various e-diets, and so on. Some people fall prey to these questionable, unhealthy diet plans as their unrealistic hunt for the next magic bullet continues. Then there are the more popular fad diets, including calorie restriction diets, blood type diets, keto diets, anti-grain diets and caveman diets, which are typically low-carb, high protein diets; these types of plans can be quite dangerous, as I’ve explained in previous columns.
Sadly, the success rates of typical diets are dismal. Diets which require us to count calories, carbs, or points, or weigh things or decrease portion sizes can leave us feeling hungry and frustrated – making them unsustainable for the majority of people. Those types of diets are temporary fixes that don’t last. Losing weight and regaining health does not mean counting or weighing smaller portions of the same unhealthy foods. Evidence that traditional diets don’t work can be found just by looking at a 2013 study showing that out of 188 countries, not one has lowered its obesity rate since 1980. The world is becoming more and more obese. If you cared to guess which country ranks the highest for obesity rates, and you guessed the United States, you’d be a winner. We’re ranked as number one in spite of all of the “diet plans” available.
The answer to weight maintenance and health is simple, achievable and proven by mounds of unbiased research. It’s not a typical diet of restriction, nor is it a diet that requires super human efforts to refrain from eating. It isn’t a short-term fast or cleanse and there aren’t any magical supplements or powders you’ll need to purchase. Nor is it a diet book with various phases of eating patterns to be implemented until you reach a maintenance level. It does not rely on calorie counting or willpower.
Credible, independent research continually bears out that a diet focusing on complex carbohydrate, high-fiber, calorie-dilute foods with no added oils/fats is the overall, optimal dietary pattern to be embraced for a lifetime. Such a plan provides roughly 80% of calories from carbohydrates, 10% from fat, and 10% from protein. You may be thinking “80% of calories from carbs?! I’ll be huge!” No you won’t. You’ll actually lose weight. Remember that not all carbs are created equal! We’re talking about complex carbs (potatoes, corn, beans, rice, veggies, fruit, legumes and whole grains), not the refined carbs with added fats and sugars (donuts, white bread, snack cakes and French fries). (Click here for The “Plan A” Diet Food Pyramid.)
Remember, complex carbs don’t make us fat – FAT makes us fat. It’s the REFINED carbs filled with fats that we need to ditch, as well as the high fat meats and fish, dairy products, fried foods, and anything made with added oils, butter, creams and other fats. We are simply not designed to eat such a diet. And eating smaller portions of such foods is not the answer.
Certain processed foods such as breads, pastas, soups, cereals, crackers, and snack bars are acceptable (based on the ingredients). A daily menu might include oatmeal with fruit and nuts for breakfast, zucchini-bean burritos or creamy potato soup for lunch, and lasagna or stuffed peppers for dinner. Healthy desserts and treats will more than satisfy your sweet tooth. This type of diet plan should be your “Plan A”. The “Plan A” diet is a sustainable, delicious way of eating to be enjoyed well into your old age and for the rest of your life. Not only is this style of eating loaded with health-promoting fiber, it easily provides ample protein, calcium, essential fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Most of your favorite dishes can be “healthified”, including chilis, sloppy joes, burgers, pastas, stews, cheezy soups, stir frys and more. You’ll enjoy banana splits, cookies and chocolate desserts, all plant-based and amazingly good. And you will not miss adding oil to your foods, either; in fact, you’ll once again be able to taste the foods that used to be covered in oils. Whenever I offer a cooking class, the audience often remarks “Wow, I could eat this way!” Will there be a learning curve as you adopt a new way of shopping and cooking? Definitely. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
If you’re looking to regain your health and lose weight for good – without dieting – The “Plan A” Diet should be your go-to plan for life. You’ve got this!
Happy New Year!