After a full month of parties, dinners, and food temptations, it is no wonder that health and diet related goals are consistently the most popular New Year’s resolutions.
Come January 1, the appeal of quick weight loss promised from any number of fad diets is undeniable. While your scale may look promising 1 week out, rapid weight loss is usually a combination of fluid, muscle and just a bit of fat. Unfortunately, quick weight loss is often followed by weight gain. Frequent yo-yo related weight changes can lower your metabolism and contribute to a heavier weight altogether. So what is the best diet plan? The best weight loss plan is one that is sustainable for you.
Before you engage in a weight management program, consider the following:
- Does the diet plan match your eating style?
- Six small meals a day may not be compatible for some people because of work or travel schedules.
- Does the diet include food suited for the entire family or does it require special preparation that makes it difficult to maintain?
- Can you live with this meal plan indefinitely?
- When contemplating a diet, be honest with yourself. If the diet plan is not something that can be maintained, don’t bother. You will likely drop some weight, but just temporarily.
- Does the plan include food that you like and are able to prepare?
- Some diets require the purchase of foods or beverages. Other programs require unusual foods or hours in the kitchen.
- Does the plan meet your weight goals?
- While rapid weight loss is encouraging, slow and steady wins the race. Safe and effective weight loss averages 1-2 pounds per week and is best achieved through diet and exercise.
- Does the program address the habits that have contributed to weight gain or inability to drop weight?
- “Going on a diet” can backfire by creating an environment that contributes to food cravings and frustration. Think about a program that focuses on ways to improve eating behaviors. Behaviors do not change overnight. Aim for progress, not perfection.
- Does the plan restrict all your favorite foods, or can you still have some room for occasional indulgences?
- Everyone is different. Some people do better by eliminating trigger foods altogether. Others can achieve success with sensible splurging.
- Does the plan require significant changes from the start, or does it focus on smaller, gradual changes?
- Change can be difficult. It is often more realistic to address to one or two areas of concern at a time.
- Do you prefer a more structured plan or one that is more flexible?
- Some prefer a plan that outlines specific foods and portion sizes, others like the flexibility of making their own food choices. As long as the diet plan includes a variety of healthful foods, either option works.
- Does the plan call for special foods, supplements, or detox formulas?
- If a plan calls for expensive “extras,” do some research before signing up. Most nutrients can be obtained from a balanced diet.
- Does the program meet your physical needs?
- Some plans call for intensive exercise while others just encourage to you just to get moving. Find a plan that encourages activities that are doable and enjoyable.
Successful weight loss requires long-term changes to your eating habits and physical activity. There’s no one diet or weight-loss plan for everyone. Think about your preferences, lifestyle, and weight-loss goals. Pick a plan that you can tailor to your needs.
Before you start a weight-loss program, talk to your health care provider to review medical issues and medications that might impact your weight loss journey. Your provider may refer you to a Registered Dietitian for nutrition education, counseling, and support services.