The world is full of diets, faddy diets, strict diets, dukan diets, no-carbs diets. It’s all a little confusing, especially to a younger generation – who despite being swarmed with images of gorgeous, skinny models, are rarely given advice about safe-dieting. There’s also a lot of confusion in magazines and the media about dress sizes (you wouldn’t believe what some magazines think is a size 10!). So I’ve decided get to the bottom of how to diet safely, give you a brief overview of what each diet is and give you a few tips on how and why you should or shouldn’t diet.
‘No thanks, I’m on a diet’ is something that a lot of women hear very often. It’s often annoying, especially if you’re having a ‘fat day’ and feel a little guilty for eating that extra chocolate biscuit. But really, diets can sometimes be a step too far. I remember a couple of years ago, a girl in my class decided she’d go on a diet and so announced it to the rest of the class (fateful mistake number 1, don’t tell anyone you’re on a diet until a few weeks into it, when you’ve got into a routine and have stuck to it). She then decided that her diet method consisted of eating nothing but bananas, and so she brought in 4 bananas to last her for the day. Needless to say after a few days she was feeling very moody, tired, hungry and ill – oh and she gave up on day 4 after someone offered her a chocolate bar. The reason I’m telling you this is because I want to highlight what a ‘diet’ actually is. It’s not about being silly, strange or eating nothing but one fruit. It’s about being healthy, happy and full! You won’t stick to your diet if you’re starving hungry all the time.
I want to reiterate that very rarely do young girls need to diet. If you are under 16 and reading this article (without sounding patronising) and are considering dieting, I suggest you check your BMI before taking a step further. You can find BMI calculators online and all you need is your height, weight and age. Many young girls, who ‘diet’, do so because friends are doing it or because they feel pressured to be like their peers. As long as you are not classed as overweight or obese, you shouldn’t feel the need to diet. When I was in my first year of secondary school I towered about my friends (height wise – I was 5 foot 5) and this made me feel quite large and overweight. When they eventually caught up with me, I felt a lot slimmer and much more confident about my body. I haven’t actually grown since I was 12, which is a little depressing – but my point is that some girls can mistake their height or their comparison of other girls around them as a need for dieting – but it shouldn’t be!
I’ve included a list of diets, explaining what it’s all about, as well as giving you a list of pros and cons. Let me know if it’s helpful!
The Dukan Diet
What is it? OK – so there are four stages (attack, cruise, consolidate and stabilization). During the attack stage (the first week) you are supposed to eat only protein high foods in a bid to kick start your metabolism and loose a few pounds. The second week (or the cruise stage) allows you to calm down a bit and introduce vegetables into your diet (what a treat!). In the third week or consolidate stage, other ‘normal’ foods like bread, cheese and starch are introduced slowly back into your diet. In the stabilization stage you are then supposed to return to normality, but eating healthily and making a commitment to ‘take the stairs’ when the opportunity arises.
Pros: It gives dieters quite strict and clear cut guidance, and so for those that give a diet their all and are likely to stick to it – this seems like a good solution. It also introduces in more ‘fatty’ foods slowly, so you are unlikely to go back to you ‘old, naughty ways!’.
Cons: For those who don’t do their own food shopping, are on a budget or don’t have a lot of time to think about cooking/preparing food – this probably isn’t the diet for you. It takes a lot of willpower to stick to the food types, and it’s quite complex to get your head around.
What is it? This is a diet I can comment on personally, because I have done it myself! Although I didn’t attend any meetings (which are designed to help motivate you and incentivise you towards your target weight) I did drop about half a stone in a month, and I didn’t feel deprived of chocolate! You basically are allocated 18 ‘points’ a day, and then have to eat foods/meals which add up to 18 points. Weight Watchers have a very large range of foods and ready meals at most supermarkets, and all display the number of points on the front of the packaging.
Pros: It’s easy to follow, easy to stick to and the ready meals mean that you can heat them up whilst on the go. It’s a great diet plan for those on the move!
Cons: For some people, buying specialised ‘diet’ food can give them the wrong impression about the quantity. Whilst shopping in a supermarket a couple of weeks ago, I watched (an obviously very dedicated dieter) unload 12 packets of Weight Watchers Cherry Bake wells and 10 packets of Weight Watchers Chocolate Brownies onto her conveyer belt. It defeats the object if you eat 10 times the amount of diet food – and sometimes this is misleading! Also, you shouldn’t make Weight Watchers a long term plan, because the ready meals (although tasty) are processed, and you should make sure that you are getting fresh meat and vegetables as well, rather than just the processed, readymade stuff!
What is it? A pre-pared, calorie counted food hamper is delivered to your door every week. For women the calorie intake is 1200 and for men its 1500. This is about 800 calories less than your recommend daily intake, so essentially the weight should ‘drop off’ smoothly, as long as you don’t snack or eat foods that aren’t in your hamper. You simply store the readymade food in your cupboard, add fresh fruit and veg – and eat.
Pros: It’s great for those that enjoy their food and love variety and taste, as you can tailor the hamper to your preference.
Cons: Despite being quite easy to follow, it comes at a price. It starts at around £39 per week, which although might seem quite cheap – means you are tied in to 3 months.
Well, I hope my diet profiles have helped those who might be struggling to choose a diet plan. Just remember – we are all very self critical of ourselves (and shouldn’t be!) and you should think clearly and thoroughly before starting a diet. With regards to recording your progress, it is probably best to weigh yourself. However, remember that we all fluctuate from lb to lb dependent on the time of day – it’s probably best to weigh yourself in the morning, when your stomach is empty!
Please let me know what you thought of this article, I really appreciate any feedback!