There has been a recent surge in the experts weighing in (pun intended) on popular and celebrity diets to rate them in terms of effectiveness, nutritional adequacy, and balance. Look at the latest crop of magazines, Internet news reports, and television specials.
What is a semi-motivated would-be dieter to do?
Every diet listed seems to give rise to a chorus of criticism. Either it contains too few fruits and vegetables, not enough fiber, not enough fat, or too few calories. The glycemic index is too high or too low, the nutritional content of its staples are not good enough, there is too much or too little of something.
Who rates what we are eating now? We simply pig out on everything from pizza, to fast food, to snacks (did you know that potato chips are the most popular snack food in America - accompanying 32% of our lunches?), desserts, ice cream and beer.
While it would be nice, I suppose, to have a population who ate only healthy foods, in moderation, exercised daily, and took care to ingest at least the minimum requirement of vitamins and minerals, that is not reality, my friend. We overeat on all the wrong foods, we avoid regular exercise like the plague, and huff and puff our way into enlarged bodies that are twenty to fifty pounds heavier than our frames deserve.
Any way that we can take off some or all of that weight is worthwhile. No one is going to stay on any of the popular diets for a lifetime, let's face it. We look at them as temporary (which is part of the problem, but I digress) fixes. The last thing we need are experts who make us afraid to start because we might not be obtaining the right nutrition. Or do we take a certain degree of self-satisfaction in telling ourselves that we can't start until the "perfect diet" is identified?
Are we eating the right way without a diet? No, our nutrition is still deplorable, it's just that we are eating a lot of everything. Let's have at least one expert come out and truthfully report that no matter the deficiencies of any specific diet - going on it is absolutely better than eating the way we are now!
Let's get our collective weight down, and then start worrying about nutrition and health. Diabetes, heart attacks, and gall bladders care a lot less about what we eat than how much.
Start a diet, ANY diet, and follow through for a few weeks and I guarantee you'll be in a much better place, physically and mentally, to start looking after your health and long term fitness than when hemmed in by too much blubber, reading scare stories from the media about how your intended diet is somehow unbalanced.
Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker's Edge, she recently completed a psychologically-based weight control book: Diet with an Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook. She can be reached at http://www.DietWithAnAttitude.com
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