Just the word ‘diet’ has the power to instill fear in the majority of women (and quite a few men). It is probably fair to say that any woman at least once in her lifetime has tried to go on a diet. More often than not, particularly when we are pressed for time and results, it ends up being the diet that our best friend gives us, that they got from a nurse, who got it from a dietician (or something along those lines). Suffice to say that it might give some good results in the first week or so (and no wonder, considering the pitiful meals it allows), but as soon as we go back to our usual habits, we pile the pounds back on.
A Good Diet
The idea of a good diet is that it should give you sufficient calories to keep you going while allowing you to eat a variety of foods. So if you need to lose weight you should consume around 1200 to 1500 calories every day, and up to 2000 calories for maintaining your weight (these figures apply to women only, men should take around 500 calories more per day). To consume the correct balance of foods, you should normally base your diet on the so called ‘food pyramid’: this means that, during your average day, you should consume around 6 portions of grains (the base of your pyramid), which include pasta, rice, bread, cereals and so on; at least 5 portions of a combination of fruit and vegetables (the next layer of the pyramid); around 3 portions of milk and milk derivates (one step further up); around 3 portions of protein, particularly white meat and fish, but also (in moderation) red meat and eggs (one layer further still); finally, the very tip of the pyramid will be made of fats (meaning bad fats, processed fats) and sugars.
Famous Fad Diets
A taster of all those diets that you should stay away from, including:
- Atkins: you have plenty of protein and no carbs, but the result is more likely than not a bad breath and lots of wind. Some of the recipes are yummy, but carbs deprivation will have serious negative effects on your mood.
- Cabbage Soup: we have already mentioned wind with Atkins, and wind is what cabbage is famous for. Besides, having just cabbage soup for one or two weeks in a row? It makes you want to give up before starting.
- Detox: more or less all detox plans will order you to eat only fruit and vegetables for a few days, along with litres and litres of water and herbal tea. Chances are, you will beg someone to buy you a bar of chocolate by the end of the first day, particularly when you find that your energy levels take a dip very quickly.
- The Zone: something about blocks and insulin balance, it will take so much effort and care that you are bound to go off track and not achieve the results promised. Far too complicated for the simple soul.
- Hollywood: this is essentially a diet where you drink some magic potion for up to two days, and it claims that you can lose up to 10 pounds, although it points out very quickly (but in small print) that individual results may vary. However, it has a fancy name, so it sells.
- Maple Syrup: this has been much publicised by Beyonce Knowles, when she decided to use it to shed a stone and a half for her movie Dreamgirls. This one also involves drinking a magic potion made of maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper mixed together with water. It is recommended for at least a week or so, which is a very long time to go without food.
Which means sensible, reasonable diet plans that anyone can follow. A diet as the one mentioned above should allow you to lose around a pound every week, up to two pounds if you are quite overweight.
If you have moments of uncertainty in your dieting, particularly if you have not done it for a while and have a fair amount of weight to lose, the best option would be to join a slimming club. It will cost you a small fee, anything from around £2.50 to £5.50 depending on who you join and if you actually meet with a group of like minded slimmers, or decide to stay in the comfort of your own home and use the internet instead. Both ways will work, but having a group around you will give you a bigger sense of support and understanding; following a diet plan online will require more discipline as you will need to motivate yourself a bit more (though you will have the option to join an online community also using the club).
Two of the most popular slimming clubs are Weight Watchers and Slimming World (famously publicised by Peter Kay in his live shows). Others include Rosemary Conley’s
clubs, Tesco Diets and Closerdiets (care of Closer magazine). All of these diet plans are aimed at ‘re-training’ you to eat healthily and enjoy your food, rather than just giving you a quick solution to your weight problem.
Remember the most important thing: losing weight the right way (meaning, the way it will stay off) is not easy, takes time, patience and motivation, but the end results will make it all worthwhile.