Archive for January, 2015

A panel of health experts evaluated and ranked 35 diets for U. S. News & World Report. While the DASH Diet scored at the top of diets reviewed, the TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) created by the National Institute of Health, took the number two spotlight. Tied for third place were the Mayo Clinic Diet, Mediterranean Diet, and Weight Watchers Diet. Any of these make excellent choices to follow in reaching your healthy eating goals.

But which diets scored the lowest? Coming in at number 30 was the Fast Food Diet. Experts thought this choice could lead to poor food selections. The Atkins Diet—the popular low-carb diet—and the Raw Food Diet tied for number 32. Reviewers considered the latter as nearly impossible to follow. Tying for number 34 were the Dukan Diet and the Paleo Diet, both ranking low in every category,

So what makes these diets poor choices? The Dukan Diet, created in 2000 by Pierre Dukan, touts weight loss of ten pounds in one week without regaining in the following months. The diet allows unsweetened caffeinated beverages and artificial sweeteners but restricts some nutritionally sound foods and may be difficult to follow. Four phases make up this diet.

  • The “attack” phase, lasting from one to ten days, allows eating unlimited lean protein plus requiring one and one-half tablespoon of oat bran with at least six cups of water daily.
  • The “cruise” phase, lasting several months, adds unlimited non-starchy vegetables every other day plus two tablespoons oat bran daily.
  • The “consolidated” phase, based on five days for every pound lost, permits non-starchy vegetables every day plus two servings of starchy vegetables. Also added are one piece of fruit, two slices of whole grain bread, and one serving of hard cheese. The diet adds one to two celebration days to eat anything desired.
  • The “stabilization” phase permits whatever you like for six days each week. On the other day, you follow the “attack” phase, changing to three tablespoons of oat bran every day plus 20 minutes of daily walking.

The premise for the Paleo Diet is that we eat too many processed foods, and if we ate more like our ancestors, we would be healthier. The diet encourages abundance of meat from grass-fed animals, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. It includes olive, walnut, flaxseed, avocado, and coconut oils. Forbidden foods consist of all grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy products, processed foods, refined sugars, and salt.

Even though we can agree that modern diets should limit excessive salt, sugar, or processed foods, this diet is based on false assumptions. Experts consider the diet too restrictive.

While experts evaluated only 35 diets, many more exist. Diets much worse than those at the bottom of this list abound. Be wary. If you decide to follow a specific diet plan, make sure it is nutritionally sound and easy to follow.


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The U. S. News & World Report published the 2014 best diets in eight categories. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) again rated as the best over-all diet and the best diet for healthy eating. What about this diet has caused it to rank number one for the past five years?

The government initially funded research to develop an eating plan to lower blood pressure that resulted in the DASH Diet. The diet scores high because of nutrients provided, safety, and its role in the prevention or control of diabetes and heart disease. While it is not designed for weight loss, those who follow this diet should maintain a healthy weight, and those with excessive body fat should lose extra pounds.

The Dash Diet increases “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides. The diet meets dietary standards for fat, protein, and carbohydrate. It provides ample fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin B-12, nutrients often deficient in diets. Although a little low in vitamin D, eating fortified cereal or foods such as sockeye salmon can help meet nutrient requirements.

The DASH Diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. It limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats and is low in saturated and trans fats. Below are guidelines to help follow the DASH Diet.

  • Vegetables: Eat four to five servings a day based on a serving size of one cup raw leafy green vegetables or 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables. Vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens and others are high in fiber, vitamins, and such minerals as potassium and magnesium. Use vegetables served over brown rice or whole-wheat noodles as a main dish. Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables are all nutritious choices.
  • Fruits: Eat four to five servings a day based on a serving size of one medium fruit or 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit or 4-ounces  of juice. Fruits are high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium, and all except a few are low in fat. Serve at mealtime for dessert or as a snack.
  • Dairy: Consume two to three servings a day based on serving sizes of one cup skim or one-percent milk, one cup yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounce cheese. These are major sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein.
  • Grains: Eat six to eight servings a day based on serving sizes of one slice whole-wheat bread, one ounce dry cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta. For more fiber and nutrients, choose whole grains. Look for products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish: Eat six or fewer servings a day based on serving sizes of one ounce cooked skinless poultry, seafood, lean meat, or one egg. These are rich sources of protein, B-vitamins, iron, and zinc. Reduce meat portions by one-third or one-half since even lean varieties contain fat and cholesterol. Trim away skin and fat from poultry and meat. Eat heart-healthy fish such as salmon, herring, and tuna.
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes: Choose four to five servings a week based on serving sizes of 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas. Almonds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, peas, lentils and other foods in this family are good sources of magnesium, potassium, and protein as well as fiber and phytochemicals. Nuts contain healthy types of fat—monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids—and can be added to stir-fry, salad, or cereal. Also serve soybean-based products, such as tofu and tempeh, as alternatives to meat.
  • Fats and oils: Use two to three servings a day based on serving sizes of one teaspoon soft margarine, one tablespoon mayonnaise, or two tablespoons salad dressing. While fat is essential in the diet, many people consume too much which can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Choose healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Avoid trans fats that are often found in processed foods such as crackers and baked goods. Read food labels and choose foods lowest in saturated fat and free of trans fat.
  • Sweets: Limit to five or fewer a week. Serving sizes include one tablespoon sugar, jelly or jam, or 1/2 cup sorbet, Cut back on added sugar. Instead, use artificial sweeteners to curb the hunger for sweets.

Following the DASH Diet during 2015 can result in a healthier you. As a reminder, print and clip these guidelines and place on your refrigerator or in a place where you will see them daily. You can eat healthier and reap many rewards.

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If like me, you would like to lose a few pounds of body weight. Well, maybe more than a few. With age, losing weight becomes more complex and challenging. How do we stop this run-away fat-train and reverse the damages? With the start of a new year, most of us become more mindful of our need to pay attention to how we treat our bodies.

On the start of 2015, keep these thoughts in mind.

  • Don’t stress out. Worrying about weight could be harmful. Some people tend to eat and snack more when stressed. Many grab any food available without thought of the limited nutritive value or excessive calories.
  • Get more sleep. A good night’s rest gives you energy to be more active throughout the day. Awakening refreshed helps to focus on the body’s needs instead of pumping in the caffeine to stay awake.
  • Plan ahead. While planning helps relieve stress, it may improve diet. When we wait until hungry to consider food, we often end up making poor choices. Decide on meals or snacks in advance. Plan to take an apple and nuts with you to work instead of snatching up a cola and cake at breaktime.
  • Enjoy your food. While our bodies need foods loaded with nutrients to remain healthy, food is meant to be enjoyed. Denying favorite foods seldom results in continued weight loss or management. Modify high-calorie favorite dishes to lower calories.
  • Appreciate yourself. Regardless of your current weight, God loves you, and I expect so do a lot of family and friends. If you need to lose weight—not because of vanity but for health reasons—remember Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” While you need to do your part, will-power often weakens when it comes to eating. Prayer is always a viable choice for needed help. Remember, you are worth staying healthy.

Have a happy and healthier new year.

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