I've done a lot of research over the years and the one diet plan that seems to withstand the test of time is the DASH Diet plan. It was originally designed for people with hypertension issues and kidney issues but the diet can actually benefit all that are trying to eat healthy and lose weight. Of course to lose weight one must burn more calories than he or she is consuming. A person's calorie intake is dependent on their lifestyle, for example if he or she is sedentary and sits a lot for their job and throughout the day then he or she would want to stick with a smaller amount of calories to consume in the day.
- Sedentary means that you do only light physical activity as part of your typical daily routine.
- Moderately active means that you do physical activity equal to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, plus light physical activity.
- Active means that you do physical activity equal to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, plus light physical activity.
Daily Calorie Needs for Women
- Ages 19-30: 2,000 kcals - 2400 kcals depending on activity level
- Ages 31-50: 1,800 kcals - 2,200 kcals depending on activity level
- Ages 51+ : 1,600 kcals - 2,000 kcals depending on activity level
Daily Calorie Needs for Men
- Ages 19-30: 2,400 kcals - 3,000 kcals depending on activity level
- Ages 31-50: 2,200 kcals - 2,800 kcals depending on activity level
- Ages 51+ : 2,000 kcals - 2,400 kcals depending on activity level
The DASH diet focuses on the amount of sodium consumed in a day. The maximum amount of sodium allowed each day is 2300mg/day and the least amount of sodium consumed should be 1500mg/day.
Types of foods allowed:
- Grains: Whole-wheat bread and rolls, whole-wheat pasta, English muffin, pita bread, bagel, cereals, grits, oatmeal, brown rice, unsalted pretzels and popcorn
- Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, collards, green beans, green peas, kale, lima beans, potatoes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
- Fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, raisins, strawberries, tangerines
- Dairy must be fat free or low fat: Fat-free milk or buttermilk; fat-free, low-fat, or reduced-fat cheese; fat-free/low-fat regular or frozen yogurt
- Lean meats, poultry and fish: Select only lean; trim away visible fats; broil, roast, or poach; remove skin from poultry
- Nuts, Seeds, Legumes: Almonds, filberts, mixed nuts, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, kidney beans, lentils, split peas
- Fats and oils: Soft margarine, vegetable oil (canola, corn, olive, safflower), low-fat mayonnaise, light salad dressing, use avocado as a great substitute for mayonnaise.
- Sweets and added sugars: Fruit-flavored gelatin, fruit punch, hard candy, jelly, maple syrup, sorbet and ices, sugar, I prefer dark chocolate.
The main concern for all diet plans is portion control. As long as one eats well the majority of the time, he or she can also indulge every once and a while. The idea for healthy living is balance and to start looking at food as fuel for the body instead of a treat. Its a good idea to find other ways to reward yourself for living a healthy lifestyle. Instead of eating something indulgent, try getting a manicure, getting a massage, buying yourself something fun like clothes, shoes, electronics. Eventually the new lifestyle will take no thought process at all and it will become an easy routine. The point is to stick with it. We all have setbacks but what matters is that you dust yourself off and try again. It takes practice to master something.