Diet Food

rice cake on plate

Magic diet food

A few years ago, I was visiting a friend and when she opened a cupboard in her kitchen, several boxes of food from a popular weight loss program fell out. She explained that she wasn’t strictly on the program anymore, and hadn’t reached her goal weight, but she still purchased the foods in hopes that it would help her to eventually lose weight.

In spite of the fact that she is an intelligent person, the commercials with the svelte movie star had half convinced her that there was some magic in the food itself!


If you were asked to make a list of diet food, my guess is that it would include such things as celery sticks, carrot sticks, egg white omelettes, rice cakes, cottage cheese, poached fish, salads, and depending on which weight loss regimens you have been on, you might also mention cabbage soup, grapefruit, cider vinegar and even coconut oil.

Some might include those frozen meals such as Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice, or the commercially available foods connected to diets such as Weight Watchers and South Beach Diet.

For others, like my friend, diet food arrives at the door in the form of prepackaged meals provided by the program they signed up for, the two most popular being Nutri-System and Jenny Craig.

A broader meaning

If any of these examples represents your definition of diet food, you need to get a new dictionary. While some of these foods can form part of a healthy weight loss diet, the list of diet foods can include any and all whole foods, when eaten in appropriate portions, and should always include foods that you enjoy and can eat for the rest of your life.

Narrow diet = Recidivism

If there is one way to insure that you will gain back any lost weight, it is to define the food you can eat in such a narrow way. You tell yourself that you will eat this food until you achieve your goal and then you will go back to eating all of the foods you really like. This kind of thinking is an absolute prescription for painful frustration and demoralizing failure.

Thousands, maybe millions of people lose weight and then find themselves gaining it all back, and then some, when they stop eating the so-called "diet" food and go back to eating "normal" food. Billions of dollars are spent every year on weight loss, but we are still more overweight than we have ever been.

It’s time to change your thinking.

First, stop thinking about foods in terms of diet food and normal food, and instead start thinking of healthy food versus unhealthy food. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables—not just carrots and celery sticks, whole grains, lean meats, whole eggs, legumes, dairy products and good fats such as monounsaturated fats and even nuts and dark chocolate. This represents a huge list of foods and they all can form part of a successful weight loss plan and more importantly a successful life plan to maintain your weight once you have lost it.

For example, a 1600-calorie diet, the portion sizes for each day would be 1-1/2 cups of fruit, 2 cups vegetables, 5 oz. whole grains, 5 oz. lean meat, 3 cups low-fat dairy and 4 tsp. oils.

Knowing your portions

Next, think about the amount of food you eat and educate yourself about portion size. Most people, especially overweight people, fool themselves about how much they are eating. If you don’t know what a cup of strawberries looks like, or 3 oz. of lean meat, then measure it once or twice until you do know.

Ignorance is not an excuse under the law, nor in healthy eating!

Keeping track

Finally, keep a food diary in which you write down everything you eat, including portions. You probably won’t need to do this forever, just until you learn eating habits that lead to a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Recording what you eat each day, has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to achieve success with weight loss. You can use a simple pen and pad of paper, one of the inspirational food journals that are on the market, or do it online at any one of several free dieting sites such as or where you can also take advantage of community support.

Make your own magic

In the incident mentioned above, my friend looked a bit sheepish when those boxes of programmed food were revealed. I understood perfectly how she felt. Who of us has not been tempted by the promises from a trim, attractive celebrity assuring us that we, too, can achieve the same result if we are willing to trade our dollars for some of their magic diet food?

The good news is that we can decide to make our own magic by using those dollars to choose a variety of delicious, whole foods in appropriate portions.

In that way, we can establish healthy eating habits that will bring a lifetime of looking good and feeling well.

Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,

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