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Choose a Diet That Works for You

Allie Benson, R.D., L.R.D., Program Assistant

With the New Year comes a buzz of New Year’s resolutions, perhaps thoughts of weight loss and of course increased advertising of an array of diet plans. Magazines, books and websites offer advice on what they think is the key to weight loss. So which sources can you trust and which diet plan do you try?

We know that we should eat a balance of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and dairy, and we should try to reduce the amount of fat, sugar and sodium we consume. The challenge is putting what we know into practice and finding a way to eat healthfully that fits with our lifestyle. Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate what diet will work for you.

Likeability. Choose a diet that includes foods that you enjoy eating. For optimal results, you will want this to be a lifestyle change rather than a lose-weight-quick fix. If the diet restricts certain foods or food groups or becomes boring,  you probably won’t stick to it and won’t be able to see weight loss in the long-term.

Safety and balance. A weight-loss plan should provide you with the proper nutrients and calories your body needs. If a plan encourages you to eat large amounts of certain foods, such as meat or grapefruit, and restrict others, such as carbohydrates or fats, it can lead to nutritional inadequacies. Safe diets do not include excessive vitamin or mineral supplements.

Activity. Physical activity should be included in every weight-loss plan. Physical activity could help you increase muscle mass which can increase your metabolic rate while at rest. Muscle burns more calories than fat, which means you burn more calories when you are sedentary because of your changing body composition. Physical activity also is a key factor in maintaining weight loss. People who exercise regularly are more likely to maintain their weight loss.

Cost. Some diet plans require you to purchase meals or supplements to see weight loss benefits. Others include regular visits with a support group or check-ins at a clinic. Make sure the cost of the program matches what you can afford.

Preferences. Do you prefer to lose weight on your own or as part of a support group? Do you prefer online support or meeting in person? If you have tried a diet plan in the past, what worked for you and what didn’t? How did you feel while you were following that diet plan?

When choosing a diet plan, we have many things to consider. Remember to keep your own personal needs, lifestyle and goals in mind. If you have any concerns about your health, consult with your doctor and a dietitian before starting a weight loss plan.


Source: Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Weight loss: Choosing a diet that’s right for you. Retrieved from

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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