Diet Plans probably create more buzz than the Kardashians. Diet is one word which has proved to be my nemesis more than once. Actually, more times than I care to remember. The world, East or West, is obsessed with diets. Mention this D word, and your pulse quickens, and everyone from a park bench pensioner to a snotty teen wants to give their opinion.
Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ is so 2002, but its something we all, especially women, need to remember every day of every month of every year. Words Can’t Bring You Down, Girl! No way – no how!
Image Courtsey: Free Digital Photos Dot Net/ Master Isolated Images
It is very easy to get lost in the diet books aisle in a bookstore. There are fad diets that will promise quick results, and crazy things like eating three apples a day or cabbage soup for a week. And believe me, I have taken many of these for a test drive.
But ‘in my opinion’ (fans of The Good Wife will remember this), what matters most in the long run is what you can stick to or commit to. In my opinion, you can’t really banish a particular food group, unless that food group is candy! In my opinion, a discerning woman needs to be convinced a diet plan makes sense.
The biggest challenge is always finding the right ethnic food to fit the mould of a diet plan. Us Desis eventually want our Dal Chawal, you know! Sad but true. Doesn’t mean that Indian food will not fit into a diet plan. It means most diet books are just not written with an Indian consumer in mind.
I won’t bore you with stories of my failures or successes with ‘diet plans’. I just want to list a few that have really made sense to me. Really Made Sense! These diet plans are written by ‘qualified’ people, and are time tested in most cases.
So let the fun begin! I am providing some links to Amazon. com or Flipkart where you can get books related to these diet plans. Amazon India is also a good option for folks in India.
BTW, I am not a health or nutrition professional of any kind. This is just my experience or opinion! You should consult your doctor before embarking on any diet anyway.
Body For Life for Women – A Woman’s Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation – Pamela Peeke
Pamela Peeke is a MD, and this book is the one book every 30 something girl should read and have handy as a reference. It is never too late, or early to start thinking about your body. And your mind plays a big role. Mind-Mouth- Muscle is the winning formula. The most important concept here is to fight for yourself, a concept alien to most women because we are so busy taking care of someone else.
Stress plays a big hand in fat creation, especially abdominal fat. Body for Life for Women is a mind-body transformation program for women. It is based on the original Body for Life on a high level, but takes into account the challenges women face, both emotional, physical and chemical. You will need to exercise, and eat a sensible and healthy balanced diet. And most of all, you will have to rein in your Mind.
The book lists muscle building exercises along with photos and tips for right posture. The book has charts and worksheets you can fill in to keep track of your progress. The book explains some concepts like metabolic rate, how to calculate your own resting rate, how to calculate calorie needs for the day, and how many calories you need to consume to lose a certain number of pounds per week.
Body for Life for Women advocates both healthy diet and exercise, along with a positive mindset, and that’s why it makes sense.
The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss – Arthur Agatston
Low carb diets became the rage with Atkins. And then people gradually realized that eating unlimited bacon and red meat and butter was maybe not good for health in the long term. People had to actually see their worsening heart health profile to believe that.
Along came The South Beach Diet, riding the Low Carb wave. Dr. Agatston, a heart specialist in Florida, is the creator of this diet. Unlike the Atkins diet, South Beach Diet allows you to eat most vegetables and the occasional fruit. And there are no ketone strips involved!
Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet is perhaps the most restrictive, because it will forbid certain vegetables and most fruits and breads. Phase 2 gets easier, but it is also challenging as this phase is more of an ‘Inspect and Adapt’. Like trying eating a fruit for lunch, and if that slows down your progress, eat only half a fruit, again check, and adjust accordingly.
The good news for people on the go is that there are tons of cookbooks with South Beach Diet recipes available. And there are meal bars, and frozen entrees’ that are made for the South Beach Diet making it easier for you to stick to the plan.
The South Beach Diet website also offers paid membership, access to forums and customized meal plans and shopping lists.
I think the most important thing here is that the South Beach Diet accepts that all carbs are not bad. And fruits, vegetables and whole grains get their due respect.
Read the original book to get the skinny on the plan, the science behind it, and sample menus and recipes.
The GI Plan: Lose Weight Forever – Azmina Govindji and Nina Puddefoot
GI or Glycemic Index cannot be ignored. Every fruit, vegetable or grain has a glycemic index. Just as an example, an apple has a GI of 38, white rice 64 and baked potato 85. The lower the GI, the more time it takes to break down or digest that particular food. And the more time taken to process something, the better it is for you. A food with a lower GI is better for you than one with higher GI.
Azmina Govindji is well known in the UK, and her book The GI Plan is not only a great resource for losing some pounds, but also has great information for people who need to watch their sugar levels. Co-author Nina Puddefoot takes care of the motivational side. The book has a lot of tips and tricks to stay on the wagon, and to remain positive.
There is a points system going on here. A number called a GIP is assigned to a food item or meal. And then there is a certain allowance for maintaining weight, losing weight or gaining weight. Azmina Govindji also promotes eating proteins, veggies and carbs at each meal, and eating snacks in between.
It is very easy to follow the points system here, and there are points for most fruits, dried fruits and nuts, milk, yogurt, cheese, beans etc. and even candy like Snickers.
The best part of the GI Plan – either because the author is a South Asian, or the UK has a higher percentage of South Asians, there are points for things like chapatti or roti, rajma, rice etc. This makes it easier to follow for Desis.
Years ago, I had to special order this book from the UK, but now it should be readily available via Amazon or Flipkart.
You on a Diet – The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management – Mehmet Oz, Michael Roizen
Most people are familiar with Dr.Oz by now. When the YOU book first came out, it was big on Oprah. And now Dr. Oz has his own show.
If I had to sum this book up, I would say its TMI. TMI folks, TMI! And I run screaming into the night. But honestly, this is one of the best resources to learn about your body and its various, er, parts, in a fun way. Dr. Oz is the director of the heart institute at Columbia University. Dr. Roizen is famous for his concept of Real Age (more later).
The doctors stress that waist size is more important for health than just weight. YOU on a Diet combines information and advice in an actionable package. They explain the intricacies of various organs in our body, what they need to function well, and what can harm them. They present a sensible eating plan, and teach you how to read nutrition labels, and how to stay away from dangerous processed food. For example, if sugar is one of the first four ingredients in a food item, don’t eat it.
The book lists different exercises you can do to tone up your body, and promotes walking and moderate activity. There is an explanation on supplements available, and what each might do for you. The cartoons and illustrations used throughout the book are really fun and drive home the point in a way you will remember. The doctors explain the complete process of what happens in your body from the moment you eat something until it travels down and is purged at the other end.
Factoids and You-reka moments work like study aids and keep it interesting. So throw away that scale and get the measuring tape out. Because your waist size is the only number you need to worry about!
Weight Watchers is perhaps the oldest and most popular diet plan or eating plan out there. It has certainly been around for a long time, almost 50 years. Portion control has been the main premise of WW. Apart from advising you to be sensible most of the time, it allows for some mischief.
There are tons of recipe books available for Weight Watchers plans. Some of them are – Weight Watchers Complete New Cookbook, Weight Watchers Cook it Fast: 250 recipes in 15, 20, 30 minutes on Amazon.com. Flipkart has some really economical books like Weight Watchers Mini Series – Soups and Salads and Weight Watchers Mini Series – Meat Free Meals. Amazon India has some great books like Weight Watchers – Versatile Vegetarian and Weight Watchers: Simply the best Italian.
WW is based on the famous Points system, with a certain allowed points per day. The diet is so mainstream that there are loads of ready made items in the grocery aisle that list the WW points. So you can have ice cream and Popsicles that have the points listed, and restaurants like Applebee’s list the WW points on their menu. Their eating out guide lists the points for almost all the fast food available out there. Plus there are tons of recipe books available.
WW meetings are well known, but now they also have an online program where you can do it all remotely. Most big offices in the US have a WW group that meets periodically which is great as a support group.
I think the best part of WW is that it allows you to be flexible according to the demands of your lifestyle. There are no ‘restricted’ foods which keeps cravings down. And the recipes show you how to cook without using too much sugar or fat.
Summing up, none of these 5 diet plans are overly strict or restrictive. Almost all of them are about changing your lifestyle, and almost all of them promise results only with consistent effort. If you are new to the diet and exercise game, get hold of these books and read them.
Remember, knowledge is power! And it is always better to get concrete information from trusted sources that have given results to thousands of people.