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Our Dietitian Answers: "What's the best diet to follow?"

When people find out I am a registered dietitian, the first words out of their mouth isusually, “What diet should I follow?” They are almost always surprised by my answer, “none”. Here’s why: whenever you go on a diet, there is the eventual going off that diet.  Many diet plans do work because there is a restriction in calories and people are genuinely able to lose weight. The problem is they never keep it off.

The best diet is no diet. The real answer takes a commitment to permanent lifestyle change. Create your own eating plan while making permanent changes to your lifestyle that result in reduced calories. Examples of doing so are:

  • Eating smaller meat portions and less often
  • Choosing leaner meat (fish, chicken, bison)
  • Drinking water instead of sweetened beverages
  • Reducing portion sizes
  • Avoid fried foods
  • Eat at home when possible instead of dining out
  • Exercising
  • Avoiding sugars
  • Choosing low fat dairy products
People who lose weight and maintain it have made a commitment to a new way of eating.  The National Weight Control Registry, from the University of Colorado, is the largest investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. The Registry follows individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The Registry reports that most individuals follow a low calorie, low fat diet and do high levels of activity.
  • 78% eat breakfast every day
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
  • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day
As demonstrated by the Registry participants, successful weight loss means permanent lifestyle changes, which can be hard work, but it really is the only thing that works. All you have to do is decide that it is important enough to make a change, and trust me, it is.