As established diet books constantly reinvent themselves to sell more copies and win more followers, a curious phenomenon has emerged: Ornish, Atkins, and everyone in between are sounding very similar. The low-fat experts now say that certain fats are okay, while the low-carb proponents are beginning to endorse whole grains. With every new guideline and selling point, each diet acknowledges that there are really four basic rules to healthy eating:
- Eat carbs with plenty of fiber such as vegetables, legumes, and whole grains
- Stay away from trans fats and saturated fats
- Consume lean protein
- Fill up on fruits and vegetables that are fresh instead of packaged.
The end of the diet wars?
- The latest Atkins book emphasizes the “good carb” message too
- Weight Watchers, a champion of the points system, is now offering a “no counting” option based on healthy choices like those above.
- The low-carb South Beach Diet, for example, now espouses the virtues of eating the Mediterranean way-including lots of carbohydrate-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Jenny Craig is pushing Volumetrics, a high-volume, low-calorie strategy. And everyone gives a thumbs-down to processed and sugary carbohydrates, which cause insulin to spike and can lead to more fat and even diabetes.
- Low-fat-diet guru Dean Ornish, MD, says, “It’s the end of the diet wars.” His most recent book, The Spectrum, even offers recipes that can be prepared in various “degrees”-from a vegetable chili served plain (low-fat) to one served with olives (more fat) to still another served with turkey breast sausage (still more fat).
The key is moderation rather than deprivation — eating in a way you can live with. For some people, an important side effect of eating more plant-based foods is that it’s better for the environment.
Old diet plans with new tweaks
Old way: You’re a slave to miniature meals in plastic trays. Or you go off the food plan, inhale two brownies, and go hungry for the rest of the day.
New way: You don’t have to count points or calories if you’re eating a lot of fruits and leafy greens, which help keep you feeling full.
Why the new way is better: By supplementing those Mickey Mouse portions of prepackaged beef Stroganoff with a tub of salad, dieters complain less about being hungry.
Old way: The pounds (at least at first) melt off like crazy, but then carb cravings eventually force dieters off the wagon – and pounds accumulate. Like crazy.
New way: We didn’t really mean you can’t have carbs, the leaders of these diets now insist. There’s more emphasis on good carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Why the new way is better: Dieters on South Beach and Atkins may finally have a prayer of sticking with the program.
Old way: You’re allowed lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, but there are tough restrictions on red meats and other fatty foods.
New way: Certain fats, the good ones from olives, avocados, and nuts – are now acceptable. Even red meat has its place on the spectrum, occasionally.
Why the new way it’s better: You no longer feel like a rabbit dying for a burger.
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