And the best diet in America is….?
‘Tis the season: from Oprah Winfrey to Marie Osmond, the celebs are all over the media, extoling the virtues of their favored diet plan. Diet companies know that this is the time of year when people resolve to eat healthier or lose those extra pounds, and they want to be top-of-mind when choices are made.
But what is the best diet out there?
According to U.S. News & World Report’s annual list – for the seventh straight year – it’s the DASH diet.
The DASH diet (short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) doesn’t have a celebrity spokesperson, but several books have been written about it by dietitian Marla Heller. It was originally developed by the U.S. National Institutes for Health as a method for lowering blood pressure, but Heller and others have found that it’s also a great blueprint for weight loss and healthy eating.
The DASH diet focuses on low-fat, low-sodium and primarily plant-based meals, although lean poultry and fish are allowed in moderation. U.S. News & World Report gave it high marks for being healthy and easy-to-follow.
The magazine ranked the DASH diet #1 “Best Diet Overall,” followed by the Mediterranean Diet and the MIND diet (a diet aimed at Alzheimer’s prevention). But in the “Best Weight Loss Diet” category, DASH placed 12th, behind the top choices of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Volumetrics.
Diets at the bottom of the “Overall” list were the Paleo Diet, the Dukan Diet and the Whole30 diet.
“I believe that the best diet a person can follow is one that focuses on moderation,” says Lexie Schwartz, a registered dietitian at Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Ill. “There are no magic foods or quick fixes, and more important than focusing on a specific diet, we should work on having healthy relationship with food.”
Schwartz doesn’t believe any food needs to be totally eliminated and sees no reason to fixate over one specific “super food” or product.
Sandra Gifford, a registered dietitian at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., offers these additional tips to people wanting to lose weight:
- Write a letter to yourself regarding why weight loss is important to you/remind yourself of your motivators!
- Compare your plate at main meals to the “My Plate” nutrition guide: Is your plate balanced? Do your snacks add quality nutrients, or are they empty calories?
- Record food and exercise logs: recognize positives and areas you need to work on.
- Recognize your feelings of hunger and fullness; reduce emotional/mindless eating.
- Get moving and expend more calories.
- Get adequate sleep.
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