Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Weigh In Wednesday

I'm still thinking about diet. Or diets to be specific. Last week I talked about the South Beach Diet, and while I do think it is a sound diet, my final thought on it is that I don't think it's really for us. In order for a diet to be successful, you really need to make a lifestyle change, not just a temporary change in diet. I am not about to reduce my fruit intake, and we also are not willing to forgo our daily bread as it were. It's also not practical for Andy to really consider. Sandwiches are a staple of his lunch diet, and have to be because of their portability. So overall, I think that the South Beach Diet is not for us.

Over the last week I've been looking into other "diets" and I have reached a conclusion. Diets and diet programs are annoying. For example, I wanted to look into the Sonoma Diet. Do you think I could find information about it anywhere? Nope. In order to find out exactly what the creators want you to know, you need to spend money to buy their book, join online, or join a support group, all for a fee. What little I was able to garner about the Sonoma Diet is that it is similar to South Beach in that it has three phases, called waves. Again though, there is strict limitations for the first period- in this case 10 days. You need to avoid fruit for the first 10 days, and rely heavily on Sonoma's 10 Power foods for that first wave. What intrigued me about this diet (as it did when it first came out) was that it promoted a glass of wine with your dinner. Wine= Good. Then I learned that Sonoma was based on The Mediterranean Diet, so I went in search of more information because the Sonoma Diet just screams fad diet to me, and the little I could find about it wasn't very praiseworthy.

Again, my search for information was difficult. I refuse to pay a fee to find out what kind of meal plan is suggested for someone following the Mediterranean Diet. And then I finally found something, and I think it would be beneficial to share the information I learned here. What I can't find is whether the actual Mediterranean Diet has a phase program like South Beach and Sonoma, but I did find a list of steps and tips...
  • STEP 1: Make plant foods the main dishes at all your meals.
  • STEP 2: Eat grains such as couscous, polenta and bulgur in addition to breads, cereals and pasta.
  • STEP 3: Look for unprocessed foods that are grown nearby.
  • STEP 4: Add flavor to foods with plenty of garlic, onions and fresh herbs such as basil, oregano and thyme.
  • STEP 5: Include beans and nuts in your diet every day. Enjoy bean soups, almonds, pasta with beans, hummus, and green salads with pine nuts.
  • STEP 6: Opt for cheese and yogurt as your daily dairy products. These foods have good bacteria that may have health benefits.
  • STEP 7: Choose fish and seafood two or more times per week.
  • STEP 8: Enjoy poultry once a week or less and red meats just a few times a month.
  • STEP 9: Use the healthier fats to add richness and flavor to your cooking. Emphasize olive oil and nuts.
  • STEP 10: Serve fresh or dried fruit for snacks and dessert. Reserve other sweets for a few times a week.
  • STEP 11: Drink wine in moderation with meals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plant foods (grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables) are fantastic sources of fiber and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
  • Some typically Mediterranean vegetables to enjoy include eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers.
  • Use full-flavored extra-virgin olive oil for dipping bread and making salad dressings. Choose light olive oil for baking.
  • If you drink wine, having a glass of red wine with a meal may decrease heart disease risk. But there is no need to start drinking if you don't already imbibe. Avoid alcohol when it might put you or others at risk, such as during pregnancy, when you are breast-feeding, or when you are going to be driving.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, contact a physician or other health care professional before engaging in any activity related to health and diet. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

This is interesting reading, and really, doesn't it just look like common sense? A lot of these are things that we do already, or are trying to do. Using good fats is an example. I've been using olive oil a lot more in my cooking, replacing vegetable oils and the occasional butter. What isn't listed here is that what the Mediterranean Diet strongly promotes is the idea of portion control. I am certain we all are guilty of overdoing the portions from time to time. And with some things, it is perfectly acceptable to overdo it- a crisp salad comes to mind, or a clear-broth vegetable soup are both wonderful things to eat more of. It's the extra large slice of cake, the extra pair of cookies, or the 12 oz sirloin that is more than necessary. My preliminary findings of this diet are good. It emphasizes slow and steady weight loss, which is great to me, and some of our favorite foods are from the Mediterranean region. I will be checking on the book soon, and I will be certain to report further findings. I would love to hear if anyone has had personal experience with the Mediterranean Diet.

ETA: In addition to Weigh-In Wednesday, it appears that Wednesday is now my "official" day over at Well-Fed. Every Wednesday morning you'll find a fresh new article on Kids Cuisine written by little ole me. And rather than mention it every week with a shameless plug, I'll just bring it up from time to time as a reminder. ;-)


Kalyn said...

This is pretty interesting. Overall I'd say the Mediterannean diet is more similar than it is different from the South Beach Diet. South Beach does allow fruit and bread, just in moderation and the bread should be whole grain. But you are so right that it's a lifestyle choice and I've said for a long time that your own food preferences are the most important thing in choosing a diet!

Charise said...

I lost 10 lbs last summer basically following what amounts to these guidelines and working out 3-4 days a week. I reduced my alcohol intake, "switched" my portion sizes of veggies and carbs, and stuck to lean meat, which I usually do anyway, while adding more beans.

I can't/won't do "diets". I don't like being told what I can and can't eat, feeling like I can't go out to dinner, having to count and measure all the time, etc. Just generally eating healthier and watching portion sizes works for me whenever I need to lose some weight, and these guidelines help you do that.

Erika said...

You are both right on. Kalyn, the Mediterranean is similar to South Beach as far as the stress on good carbs. The biggest difference is the insistance on portion control and the huge push to consume more olive oil. South Beach (unless I read differently) does not adhere to portion control.

Charise, I also hate "the list". I think ultimately, that's my problem with actual diets- I hate being told what I can or cannot eat. Give me information, and let me make my own informed decisions about what goes in my mouth. Reading up on all these diets will help me make better decisions.

Anonymous said...

To a certain extent its just calories in, energy out, as Marion Nestle said. You need to burn more than you consume to lose weight and be honest with yourself and decide on your priorities

Erika said...

anon- I think you are completely right on that. I think weight loss is all about the calories, and along the way, it's nice to have an aducation about whole grains and good fats.

Someday I will find that time to get in some exercise...