Finding the Best Diet for You

Low carb or low fat? Cabbage soup or chocolate shakes? Sonoma or South Beach? There are so many different diets out there that it's easy to get confused about which diet is best.

In fact, there is often medical support and evidence promoting opposite sides of the spectrum! For example, Dr. Robert C. Atkins says that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fats is the healthiest way to lose weight and reverse debilitating medical conditions, while Dr. John McDougall claims the exact opposite--that a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat is the way to go.

With the wealth of diet choices available to us, how are we able to determine which diet is best? The answer is actually quite simple.

The best diet out there is the one that works for you.

Each person is different and the truth is that no diet is one-size-fits-all. What works for Cousin Bob may not work for you.

To help you find the diet that is best for you, here are seven questions you should ask yourself before starting any type of diet.

1. What are my favorite foods? Unfortunately, no one has yet invented the all-potato-chip-and-ice-cream diet, but it is still important to find a diet where you won't feel deprived. Vegetarian choices are extremely limited on a low carb diet. A "meat-and-potatoes guy" is going to have a hard time feeling satisfied with a vegan diet. What you need is a good balance--something that will let you eat a wide range of foods that you enjoy while still allowing you the occasional treat.

2. Am I ready for a big change? Some diets require you make drastic changes to your eating styles overnight. Are you prepared to do that? Some people thrive on this type of challenge, but many people have found that by making smaller changes over time, they are more successful and able to keep it up for the long haul. Only you know which category of people you belong to.

3. Do I have any important events in the next three weeks? They say that it takes three weeks of constant vigilance to make something a habit. You want to make a commitment to eating healthier...but do you have anything in the next three weeks that may halt your progress? For example, overindulging at a friend's wedding may lead to more indulging. You start to feel like "Well, I've already broken my diet...what's one more candy bar?" You don't have to completely postpone your dieting efforts. Just be aware of potential roadblocks.

4. Can I cook or do I need convenience foods? A person who is constantly on-the-go should choose a diet that allows portable foods, helps make wise restaurant decisions, and doesn't require a lot of cooking time. Ask yourself how much time you are willing to spend in the kitchen and choose your diet accordingly.

5. How much time do I have? Some diets are more time-intensive than others. They require a lot of cooking, label reading, or calorie counting. Other diets allow you to eat as much as you want as long as the foods are included on a special list of "allowable foods".

6. Am I willing to exercise? If you want to lose weight, the best way to do it is through a combination of diet and exercise. You need to burn more calories that you take in. Besides that, the more you exercise, the more you can eat. However, there are some diets out there which will help you to lose weight without a lot of exercise.

7. Can I stick with it for life? All people who have lost weight and kept it off have one thing in common...they have made permanent changes to their lifestyle. You cannot lose a lot of weight through dieting and then expect it to stay off if you return to your previous eating patterns (which are what got you fat in the first place). No matter which diet you choose, it must be something that you can reasonably see yourself following for the rest of your life.
Choosing the best diet for you is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Hopefully, by answering these questions (honestly), you are able to gain some insight into what you are really looking for and can find an eating plan that fits in with your lifestyle.


Shannon Tani is a former fattie, who weighed over 220lbs. She has currently lost over 70lbs. One day she realized that people would rather hear dieting advice from someone who's "been there, done that" than a boring old doctor who's never been fat a day in his life. So she started the website Better Off Fat to share her experiences and ideas.

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