What's YOUR Diet Type?
A fixed-menu diet provides a list of all the foods you will eat. This kind of
diet can be easy to follow because the foods are selected for you. But, you get
very few different food choices which may make the diet boring and hard to
follow away from home. In addition, fixed-menu diets do not teach the food
selection skills necessary for keeping weight off. If you start with a
fixed-menu diet, you should switch eventually to a plan that helps you learn to
make meal choices on your own, such as an exchange-type diet.
An exchange-type diet is a meal plan with a set number of servings from each
of several food groups. Within each group, foods are about equal in calories and
can be interchanged as you wish. For example, the “starch” category could
include one slice of bread or 1/2 cup of oatmeal; each is about equal in
nutritional value and calories. If your meal plan calls for two starch choices
at breakfast, you could choose to eat two slices of bread, or one slice of bread
and 1/2 cup of oatmeal. With the exchange-type diet plans, you have more
day-to-day variety and you can easily follow the diet away from home. The most
important advantage is that exchange-type diet plans teach the food selection
skills you need to keep your weight off.
The average woman 25 years of age and older should get 50 grams of protein
each day, and the average man 25 years of age and older should get 63 grams of
protein each day. Adequate protein is important because it prevents muscle
tissue from breaking down and repairs all body tissues such as skin and teeth.
To get adequate protein in your diet, make sure you eat 2-3 servings (see Figure
2) from the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group on the Food
Guide Pyramid every day. These foods are all good sources of protein.
These diets require you to buy prepackaged meals. Such meals may help you
learn appropriate portion sizes. However, they can be costly. Before beginning
this type of program, find out whether you will need to buy the meals and how
much the meals cost. You should also find out whether the program will teach you
how to select and prepare food, skills that are needed to sustain weight loss.
Formula diets are weight-loss plans that replace one or more meals with a
liquid formula. Most formula diets are balanced diets containing a mix of
protein, carbohydrate, and usually a small amount of fat. Formula diets are
usually sold as liquid or a powder to be mixed with liquid. Although formula
diets are easy to use and do promote short-term weight loss, most people regain
the weight as soon as they stop using the formula. In addition, formula diets do
not teach you how to make healthy food choices, a necessary skill for keeping
your weight off.
You should avoid any diet that suggests you eat a certain nutrient, food, or
combination of foods to promote easy weight loss. Some of these diets may work
in the short term because they are low in calories. However, they are often not
well balanced and may cause nutrient deficiencies. In addition, they do not
teach eating habits that are important for long-term weight management.
Some programs or books suggest monitoring fat only, calories only, or a
combination of the two, with the individual making the choice of both the type
and amount of food eaten. This flexible type of approach works well for many
people, and teaches them how to control what they eat. One drawback of flexible
diets is that some don’t consider the total diet. For example, programs that
monitor fat only often allow people to take in unlimited amounts of excess
calories from sugars, and therefore don’t lead to weight loss.
It is important to choose an eating plan that you can live with. The plan
should also teach you how to select and prepare healthy foods, as well as how to
maintain your new weight. Remember that many people tend to regain lost weight.
Eating a healthful and nutritious diet to maintain your new weight, combined
with regular physical activity, helps to prevent weight regain.