I am officially off the low-carb diet, due to the attack of gout and other concerns. It did what it was supposed to do, though… I lost 9 pounds on it in 3 weeks. That rate is probably too aggressive, though.
The directions from my doctor(*) are to follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Which sort of leaves the door open to any number of diets. The deciding factor for me is that I want something that’s easy to figure out. That is, I want to be able to eat a sensible breakfast and lunch, and then instantly (or at least quickly) figure out what would be best for dinner in order to balance things out.
So, here are some options I’m thinking about (though if there’s something I’m not considering, please let me know!)
1. Dietary exchanges (the diabetes diet) – Based on the USDA pyramid, the “exchanges” diet breaks down your diet by taking a certain number of calories (like 1800 or 2000) and divides it into starch exchanges, meat exchanges, dairy exchanges, etc. An 1800-calorie diet breaks down into: 3 milk, 4 vegetable, 4 fruit, 7 bread, 7 meat, and 9 fat. A single exchange (like “bread”) can represent different serving sizes of different foods (like 1 slice of bread, or 1/2 cup cooked rice, or 1 cup dry cereal, etc). Foods that have combinations of ingredients can represent multiple exchanges, for example, a cup of lasagna would equal 2 carbohydrate exchanges and 2 medium-fat meat exchanges.
The ratio is based on the USDA recommendations, but there’s no rule that says you have to follow their ratio — for example, if you want to lean in one direction or the other you can just change your daily exchanges of each type slightly. There is also some emphasis on planning your eating many times during the day (Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon snack, Dinner, Bedtime snack) which I like.
What I like about the exchanges system is that a. it has “balanced” built into it, and b. it controls calories without actually counting calories. And c. it’s easy to figure out. Since it is widely used by diabetics and some others, there are actually recipe books and even some food labels that say “This counts as 1 meat and 1 milk exchange” etc. (There was a diet M and I followed briefly produced by Richard Simmons that was based on these units, and had a scorecard with little windows for each category. The materials were insipid but the actual system was easy to figure out).
2. Weight watchers online. I have heard good things about this diet. I get the feeling that it is based on “points” which are similar to exchanges, only I don’t know if they are broken out into food groups or if it’s just “this food is 10 points” or what. Also, it takes activity into account, which is good, if I get around to exercising I can take the activity points and reward myself with a food that I want. I like the flex points concept which allows you to go over your daily diet occasionally without falling into the “ok, I failed, might as well eat this cake too” trap.
I’m not sure if I want to pay the fee and join the program. I think I can probably do this on my own, but if WW makes it easier, and increases chance of success, then it’s probably worth it. I spend at least that amount of money on eating out, why shouldn’t I gladly spend it on getting healthy? Also on the positive side, you get some cool materials, and you get to keep the materials even if you stop using the program.
What I don’t like about it is that just a straight “points” system doesn’t seem balanced to me. Can you eat 15 slices of bread and nothing else and still be OK on “points”, or are there different kinds of points like there are in the Exchanges system?
3. “Half-assed” diet. This is the ultimate no-math plan. Ambar was the one who introduced me to it: put what you normally eat on your plate, then put half back. Stick to it, and you lose half your ass.
I tried this before and I think that’s pretty much how I got from 270 to 255. The “free association approach” to portion control totally appeals to the no-counting side of me. It’s probably a bit too unstructured, though… I probably need to be on a counting diet like Exchanges or WW for a while before I have a sort of natural feeling for what my body needs and what a “normal person” diet feels like.
(*) After seeing my doctor, he is pretty sure that what’s going on with my foot is really gout, but they drew some blood to verify that uric acid is actually high. I have been told not to take thiazide (a diuretic) for blood pressure, and to double up on the other BP med (lotensin, an ACE inhibitor), and I was given a script for indomethacin (anti-inflammatory, similar to advil or alleve), and colchicine (which is pretty much only used for gout). I need to go back in 1 mo. to check on both gout and B.P.