Americans are used to getting what they want, when they want it. From fast food (your way, right away) to television (cable-on-demand and Tivo) to Internet shopping, we want things quickly, with minimum effort. With this in mind, it is no surprise that a perusal of dieting books will turn up hundreds of different ways to "lose weight NOW." Yet most of these programs are, by definition, unhealthy. The best way to lose weight is to take the long-term approach and follow the food pyramid.
Most of the diets on the market today do not meet basic nutrition demands. Authors know dieters want instant gratification, and the slow and steady approach won't give you that. Whether they advise sticking to one food type or avoiding another, a balanced meal generally isn't in the cards. Even worse, after suffering through this week's diet fad, most people tend to put lost weight back on again. At best, they plan to diet again; at worst, they simply give up. What is the cause of the vicious circle? Once the weight is lost, the diet is complete, and many folks return to their original - harmful - eating habits.
Instead of counting calories or saying "no" to bread, we need to focus on integrating proper nutrition into our daily lives. Unlike a diet, eating nutritiously never ends and is always good for us. It's not as hard as one might think. Rather than taping a picture of yourself - or someone else - grossly overweight to your fridge, tape a picture of the food pyramid. Then take the weekly approach. Pick your favorite - or least favorite - food group, and intgrate it into your daily consumption. For seven days, work on eating the appropriate number of fruits, grains, or meat/protein. In some cases, you may have to add to your daily servings; in others, you may need to cut back. If, for instance, you know you max out on your meat servings at dinner time (as my husband does), consider having peanut butter and jelly for lunch instead of ham and turkey. Or go ahead and eat bacon for breakfast, but eat only one serving of pork chops for dinner. Planning to add more grapes to your day is no harder than what any other diet requires. Once you have gotten the hang of eating the appropriate amount from one food group, move on to the next one. If it takes you three weeks to feel comfortable with each section, that's fine, there's no rush. Remember, this isn't a diet, it's a dietary change. Think long term nutrition rather than short term weight loss.
Work with your weaknesses, too. Instead of cutting out your tendencies for the midday munchies, plan them into your menu. Think about what kind of nourishing snack foods you like and then set them in easy reach. Try a bowl of strawberries instead of a bowl of M&Ms, for instance. Or chow down on some yogurt or carrot sticks. This will not only help you fulfill your food pyramid requirements, it will also help fill you up a bit (on something healthy) before dinner, which means those small-seeming portions the FDA recommends won't seem so outrageous.
Finally, for an easy weightloss trick, try trading in your coffee, soda, or tea for water (save it for one week on your pyramid-changing campaign). You say H2O won't give you that caffeine buzz you need to stay awake? Experts agree that not drinking water makes us lethargic, tired, and irritable. It stands to reason that drinking water would combat these symptoms. After all, don't we find ourselves the same way if we miss our daily dose of java? Water will also help fill your stomach and keep you from being hungry all the time, not to mention its additional benefits.
You don't have to give up completely on coffee, chocolate, or whatever makes you happy to follow a healthy eating pattern. Just work on consuming in appropriate amounts. Fill up on something wholesome, and you'll find yourself craving junk food less and less. If you're a parent, you'll be teaching your kids good nutrition from the get-go, reducing their tendencies towards obesity, both as a child and as an adult.
Putting yourself on the right eating plan may not help you drop fifty pounds in a month (not a healthy goal, anyway), but over time, you will find yourself moving down to a healthy bodyweight. Of course, all the eating in the world won't help if you don't incorporate some physical activity into your program - but that's another article. In the mean time, if you plan to embark on a strange new diet, try to Pyramid Plan. The long term benefits will make it well worth your while.
See the FDA's interactive food pyramid web site for more details. http://www.mypyramid.gov/
Nola Redd is a freelance writer on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Fiction Writing. You can read more of her fiction and nonfiction at http://www.Writing.Com/main/view_item/user_id/scottiegaz?rfrid=scottiegaz.