“What is a healthy diet?” Ask that question from 100 people, and you will likely get 100 very different responses. Dieting in one form or another has been around since the late 1800’s , and most likely even before that. One of the first official ‘fad’ diets was The Hollywood Diet, also known as The Grapefruit Diet, in the 1930’s; the first published diet that sought to dictate specific foods and quantities in order to help dieters loose weight quickly, and in large amounts. Determining what makes a healthy diet is not as easy as it once was, with advances in science and medicine making new approaches more feasible, yet also making fraudulent and dangerous approaches harder to spot, due to the over all level of acceptance the diet-desperate consumer is willing to have.
A diet is, simply, what is eaten on a habitual basis. What ever you are eating right now is your “diet.” A healthy diet, therefore, would be you eating things that are good for you on a regular basis (having a diet soft drink with your greasy-meat sandwich and fried potatoes won’t count here). A healthy diet may not even been designed to bring about weight loss, it would simply produce healthy effects in your body; strengthening bones, building muscle, clearing toxins, protecting your heart, etc.
When most dieters (and here the word is used to mean people who are on a specific eating regimen with the goal of losing weight) think of diets, they think of the eating plans that are advertised everywhere that promise amazing results in short periods of time; The Atkins’ Diet, The Zone Diet, The South Beach Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, the list could go on for quite some time. Each one of these listed, and others like them, could be correctly labelled as ‘fad diets;’ an observer could track their popularity and profitability by watching how often their commercials are aired and noting how many times they are mentioned by name around the water cooler at work. Are these fad diets also healthy diets?
Experts disagree; however, when many experts are paid for their testimony, or are the actual creators of the fad diets themselves, this is to be expected. How, then can you decided what is a healthy diet for you? The best you can do is follow the steps that most experts, even those who support the fad diets, do agree on.
First, talk to your doctor about your plans. Discuss what you want to achieve, and how quickly. He or she knows your health history and can tell you if what you are planning on embarking on is dangerous for you; something a book’s author can’t do.
Second, plan on your goals taking some time to achieve. Dramatic weight loss is universally panned for a number of reasons, typically because it produces a strain on the body and because the weight loss is gained without any habits being formed. Without habits, the dieter will soon resume their old way of eating, which will soon pack on the pounds again. Can you loose weight quickly and will it be a good thing? Yes, in some cases, as long as it is not sustained weight loss and you move quickly to more reasonable diet. Again, speak with your physician.
Finally, you should exercise. Getting the body active, building muscle (even a little bit), and increasing your metabolism are all proven methods of not only losing weight, but overall improving your health. It is a positive, upwards moving cycle; the more you exercise, the stronger you body, the more you are able to exercise, the more weight you lose, etc.
In the end, it is up to the dieter to decide what is right for him or her. The two greatest tools in building a healthy diet are research and common sense.