are so abundant, it would hard to write about each and every one of them. Diet plans vary and may consist of counting calories, eating mostly low fat foods or low carbohydrate foods, eliminating certain foods completely, or adding other foods such as healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Health care professionals generally agree that the best diet plan for everyone is eating a variety of healthy foods, such as is described by the Food Pyramid developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many other pyramids exist, also, including the Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and Vegetarian diet pyramids. The pyramid diet shows that the base of the pyramid is made up of foods that should be the foundation, or bulk, of your healthy diet. In contrast, foods you should eat in smaller amounts or less frequently are shown in the smaller sections of the pyramid. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pyramid has fruits and vegetables at the base, followed by complex carbohydrates, protein and dairy, healthy fats, and sugar at the top (smallest) part of the pyramid. Although variations of the food pyramid exist, most emphasize the following advice:
Eat more plant foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Reduce intake of animal foods, which are also the natural source for cholesterol.
Substitute healthy plant fats in place of saturated and trans fats.
Limit sweets and salt.
Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all.
Control portion sizes and the total number of calories you consume.
Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Weight Watchers has been a popular diet plan since the early 1960s. This plan is based on science, is free of gimmicks and addresses a person’s entire lifestyle as a whole. There have been various different versions of the Weight Watchers diet plan over the years, but the basic premise remains the same - eating a variety of all foods, but in proper proportions. Today’s plan combines using a “point system” of tracking the intake of foods, with a focus on filling foods that are low in energy density, but also provide satiety. It’s easy to follow and teaches people how to eat “smarter” portions and make healthier choices. Weight Watchers also focuses on long-term weight management and a commitment to an overall healthy lifestyle. The program is based on four basic principles: eating smarter, moving more, getting support, and developing better habits.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet plan is rich in plant foods and monounsaturated fats. This plan is considered by many to be one of the healthiest in the world. The Mediterranean diet is associated with heart health and longevity. It can also promote weight loss as long as you eat in moderation and exercise. About fifty years ago, scientists noticed that people living in the Mediterranean region tended to be healthy and live long lives, primarily because of their diet and lifestyle. Mediterranean cuisine varies by region, but is largely based on vegetables, fruits, olives and olive oil, beans, whole grains, and fish, along with a little dairy and wine. Additionally, the Mediterranean lifestyle includes leisurely dining and regular physical activity. Here is a basic idea of what you can eat on the Mediterranean diet:
Legumes: Eat daily.
Fruit: 2.5 cups daily.
Vegetables: 2 cups daily.
Fish: More than twice weekly.
Nuts: A handful daily.
Meat/poultry: Less than 4 ounces daily.
Dairy products: 2 cups of a low-fat variety daily.
Wine: 1 daily serving for women, two for men.
Fats: Use primarily monounsaturated fats.
Eggs: Less than 4 per week.
Literally hundreds of other diet plans exist, including some “fad” diets such as the cabbage soup diet, protein powder diets, even a cookie diet! Remember if something sounds too good to be true - it generally is just that. Check with your doctor and do your research to choose which diet plan best fits your lifestyle and weight loss goals. What works for one person may not for another, but for most, the best diet plan is one with a variety of healthy foods combined with moderate exercise.