Being overweight is a symptom of our society, as animals we have got so good at providing food and security for ourselves and our families that we have become complacent; eating too much and not exercising very much. Ancient tribal societies saw extra weight as a sign of success and prosperity, but we now know that carrying excess pounds can be harmful, contributing to incidence of cardiac conditions, high cholesterol and blood pressure and even worsening respiratory conditions such as asthma. A person’s self-image is also affected by being overweight, and can cause depression, agoraphobia and isolation. Being just a few pounds overweight can make people, men as much as women, lose confidence and feel insecure and unhappy, even if their lives are perfect in every other area. Following are some of the more successful diets of 2012.
The DASH Diet
This regimen was originally instituted for lowering blood pressure and a marvelous side-effect was found to be one of reducing weight too, quite dramatically in some cases! The diet has been around for a couple of years now and has found favor in the eyes of many medical professionals as being a diet that included a good balance of the healthy food groups, that improves general health in those following the plan and as a diet that actually works.
The health benefits of the diet can be seen in reduced risk of cancers, diabetes, improved heart function and healthier blood pressure and cholesterol readings. There is a heavy emphasis on fruit and vegetable, about 4 to 6 servings of each, rather than the ‘five-a-day’ combined that we are encouraged to consume, as well as a measured amount of protein.
The TLC Diet
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Diet plan was written to help patients lower the levels of ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol. TLC is less about weight loss, and more about maintaining a healthy body, with a strong emphasis on cutting saturated fat consumption to less than 7 per cent of daily intake, reducing sodium to less than 2400mg per day but boosting fruit, vegetable and wholegrain consumption.
TLC may not be an ideal system for someone who has a great deal of weight to lose, dietitians and doctors emphasize that weight-loss is not the end aim of following this plan. This regimen can be tricky to follow as it requires the patient to read food labels thoroughly and calculate daily allowances before every meal or snack.
The positives about following TLC are that in requiring food labels to be read, patients become more aware of what they are putting in their bodies, and the diet is very easy to follow once the dieter has a fair understanding of the nutritional value of their favorite foods. Another plus is that the diet requires 30 minutes of exercise every day, an excellent incentive to go out for a brisk walk or healthy jog!
Weight watchers is becoming an institution in society, having been in business for almost fifty years. An American lady realised that the best diet to follow was one where she could eat her favorite foods, in moderation, and that it really helped to have friends following the same plan, that she could share experiences with. Her group grew and grew until she decided to team up with a businessman, and take the system even further.
Weight watchers follows the same principles today, espousing ‘real food’ eaten when the dieter likes. Weight watchers believes that it is the ready availability of an abundance of food in shops and stores that encourages over-eating, not a lack of will-power. There is a focus on tracking food intake and exercise achieved as many people do not realize how many calories they are taking in until thesis is put on achieving a good routine, with regular meals and exercise, a lifestyle that the person can follow for the rest of their life. Weight watchers has a wonderful array of tools and guides, from calorie counters, to recipe books to ‘cheat-sheets’ on how to indulge in those foods that you love that may not be so healthy!
Jenny Craig Diet
Mums and wives can easily gain extra weight simply by looking after their families. Once those extra pounds have piled on it is too much extra work to think about making two separate meals, one for her and one for the family, so she tends not to bother… Jenny Craig is the solution for people who find the preparation of diet food to be fiddly and time-consuming, as meals are delivered to the door, frozen and ready for the microwave (fresh fruit and vegetables may need to be purchased separately).
The benefit of using Jenny Craig’s service is that it helps dieters to properly understand portion control. A day’s worth of food consists of three meals and a snack, and it is recommended that this be adhered to until half the extra weight is lost, after which ‘normal’ food can be reintroduced. Jenny Craig meals are found to have good nutritional values, and have been found to have positive health benefits too.
The Ornish Diet
The Ornish diet is somewhat similar to the TLC diet in that it does not have weight loss as its principle aim, being geared more to heart health, blood pressure and cholesterol reduction and treatment and management of cancers and diabetes. It is a very low fat diet though, so following the plan strictly should result in some weight loss. Dean Ornish, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, created the plan by grouping foodstuffs in five groups, 1 to 5, 1 being the most healthy foods, like whole grain bread, and 5 being the least healthy, such as sugary biscuits made of refined flour.
The general aim is to eat from the healthiest food groups, which can make the diet quite expensive to follow, but does guarantee that only the best products are going into your body. Exercise is strongly advocated, with an emphasis on resistance training, aerobic exercise and flexibility, with meditation, yoga and deep breathing recommended to release stress.
When making positive healthy changes to your lifestyle, it is best not to think of it as being a diet, because that implies an impermanence to those changes; once the diet is finished you will return to your ‘real’ life! Making sudden drastic changes can upset your system, be very difficult to stick to and can even result in any weight lost creeping back on again a short time later. The best way to lose weight permanently is to make gradual positive changes, slowly reworking your lifestyle into a healthier routine, until you become the person that you want to see in the mirror.
Simon Lunn works as a freelance writer for UK Essays. Founded in 2003, it has supported students with Masters Dissertations for many years.