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Is there a best diet?

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It’s a new year, new decade. Of course we’re bombarded with all sorts of diets and folks setting resolutions.

Diets have been around for centuries. If dieting worked (for weight loss), wouldn’t everyone who went on one be thin? In reality it’s the contrary.

Some diets are healthy—think Mediterranean, plant-based, DASH.

(When I refer to diet, I refer to the way one chooses to eat. I have a healthy diet—that doesn’t mean I am on a diet.)

Then there are ever-present fad diets promising dramatic results. Fad diets seldom have lasting success. They often do away with entire food groups or resort to a bizarre practice. For example:

  • Fletcherism was introduced by Horace Fletcher in the early 1900s. He invented a technique, “industrious munching” and became known as The Great Masticator. The technique was to chew each bite at least 100 times and then spit out the residue. One thought—ewww.
  • Cigarette smoking in the 1920s was advertised as a dieting tool by the Lucky Strike brand. Their ad campaign was, “the modern way to diet! Light a Lucky when fattening sweets tempt you.” Cigarettes were promoted as having appetite-suppressing qualities. Crazy, but true.

Is there a best diet?

What do the experts say? Each year since 2011 U.S. News has published a comprehensive list of diets ranking them by certain criteria—short- and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety and nutrition. A panel of 25 health and nutrition experts analyzed 35 diets for the 2020 ranking. There were many categories/rankings (best for…diabetes, heart, weight loss, etc.) including the Best Diets Overall category. What were the results?

  1. Mediterranean
  2. DASH and Flexitarian (tied for 2nd)

How did the popular keto diet rank overall? You might be surprised—second to last (#34). (To keto’s credit, it did score well, tied for 3rd, in short-term weight loss, but not long-term—tied for 15th.) Why did keto score so low overall yet it’s the diet we hear about most often these days?

In response, my friend, colleague, and one of the experts on the panel Jill Weisenberger said,

“Probably because that’s what celebrities are talking about and because food companies and the media are capitalizing on the trend to get more sales and ‘likes.’ There is no denying that very low carb diets do indeed have quick results for people wanting to lose weight or manage blood sugar. But that doesn’t make it healthy. After all, isn’t health the point? I’ll lose weight if I’m locked in a cage with no food or if I have the flu and can’t eat. That’s clearly not healthy.”

You’re so right Jill!

Yes there are a multitude of ways to lose weight—not always healthy. But health should be the first consideration. In my practice I work with people (mostly women) to improve their health, age gracefully, and have energy so they feel joy in life. There is more to health than a number on the scale.

Most of the women (me included) I work with have been there, done that when it comes to dieting.

No one-size-fits-all

Every person is unique and needs to be treated as such. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. unique

What does work just isn’t all that sexy, new, and shiny. It doesn’t get the media’s attention. There’s no magic pill, potion, product, or process that’s going to miraculously transform eating habits—or lifestyles.

The biggest question is: Can you see yourself eating this way five years from now? The best diet is the diet you don’t know you’re on.

Not long ago one of my clients commented about how good she felt—more energy, improved health indicators, increased confidence. Most importantly she felt she looked better without a significant weight loss.

“The thing is it hasn’t been hard. When you make small changes they add up over time. I entered the process thinking it was all about food. I learned there is much more to nutrition and health then just what I eat.”

Changing eating habits and improving lifestyle is work. It’s simple but not easy. I get it.

I can help you.

Schedule a 30-minute complimentary Ditch Dieting Forever Strategy Session and let’s get started. Let’s do this!

Neily


Jennifer “Neily” Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Neily on Nutrition
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach
Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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