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No one-size-fits-all diet plan really works

Frustrated that your persistent weight-loss attempts are not shaving off the extra body fat? Chances are your diet plan (or plans) is not the right one for you. And it really doesn’t matter that it worked for Sushma, Rita, John and Ravi!!!

A media report I came across publicized a ‘new’ study which found that people respond differently to foods. Duh! How else can Anita gorge on chocolate and ice-cream and still be a size zero?

More importantly, if you’re blaming your extra pounds on mum or dad’s lineage, it’s time to stop. As some healthcare experts have been saying for years, we typically inherit unhealthy eating habits from our parents and not necessarily the fat gene. This misconception is largely fueled by public opinion which goes by body size concluding that my eldest looks like his dad and the younger one like me. But photos of my husband in his youth which show striking similarities between him and our younger son say otherwise.

As part of the UK study cited above, researchers tracked the eating, exercising and sleeping habits of 240 pairs of twins for two weeks. They found that individuals with genetic similarities (and twins are the closest match-ups) had different responses to same meals when eaten at different times of the day. The goal was to show that one should not have a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and diet. Granted there are genetic links to certain diet-related conditions, like lactose intolerance and celiac disease, but that’s where the similarities may stop. My mum will feel vindicated. She’s always said that her sister’s metabolism was more forgiving than hers. But the truth is that their food choices and portion sizes are also vastly different.

So, will skipping breakfast as per the intermittent fasting eating pattern work for you? Or, should you follow the low-carb-high-fat ketogenic diet that is quite similar to Atkins? What about the DASH diet recommended by the Heart and Stroke Foundation? The answer is not that simple. If you been going from one new fad to another, chances are you’ve already discovered that. The good news is that it’s not you (well not totally) but the diet.

The right approach (and what might yield the best results), is a personalized nutrition plan which typically involves consulting a dietician or nutritionist. However, most of us aren’t willing to pay for these services when there are diet plans that you can print off the Internet. But they haven’t worked, have they?

I’m reminded of the Bernstein commercial which says that if you could have done it on your own, you would have done it already. If you’ve been battling the bulge for a while, you know it’s true. Moreover, it’s not wise or healthy to cut out some food groups and gorge on others.

Weight loss and diet plans are typically based on your recommended calorie intake and medical history. The latter being the most important factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Which is why intermittent fasting might not be safe for someone with type 2 diabetes.

There’s also no sense in trying to make someone else’s nutrition plan your own either because it is personalized for that individual based on their health requirements.

This brings us to the question of whether the recommended food guide has any relevance in this case. A recent study which said there is little difference between dark and white meat with regards to chicken might also have you tied up in knots. The truth is eating a vast array of vegetables recommended by the guide can rarely be bad for you. Neither can cutting down on red meat or any meat for that matter. Dairy has also been dethroned from its position and with good reason. It has little nutritional value.

When weight and health are not an issue, moderation might be the right approach to enjoying what you eat and staying healthy. But if there are medical issues, you should consult your doctor before making drastic dietary changes. It is more than likely that he/she will refer you to a registered dietician. And remember that successful weight loss doesn’t qualify you to become a weight loss guru. -CINEWS


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