Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: Have you heard of The Digest Diet? Do you think it’s a good plan?—Beth
DEAR BETH: Yes, The Digest Diet, written by Reader’s Digest editor Liz Vaccariello, has been on my radar since it came out in October. It’s a 21-day plan with three different phases, all of which focuses in some part on 13 so-called “fat-releasing” foods and/or nutrients that purportedly help you lose weight quickly without feeling hungry. The foods vary from the protein-rich grain quinoa, cocoa, honey and vinegar, to protein, calcium, resveratrol (found in red wine and grapes), dairy, fiber and vitamin C. Three types of fat—coconut oil, which has enjoyed a resurgence of interest for its purported fat-burning qualities, as well as PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids found in corn oil, soybean oil, walnuts and seafood) and MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive and canola oils, avocados and many nuts)—are also on the list. While I don’t know that most scientists would be on board with the terms “fat-releasing,” there are a few reasons to consider this diet if you’re looking to jumpstart a weight loss plan.
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Reason 1: The Digest Diet focuses on “real foods” that cover all of the basic food groups. As you can see from the list of foods, the plan features built-in variety—it doesn’t demonize dairy, or carbs, fat, or even alcohol. You can even concoct a decent brownie with a few modifications. It’s easy to see how you could work this diet for the long term, once you put your pantry together and learn how to work with certain ingredients (like coconut oil) that might be unfamiliar.
Reason 2: Phase 1—the most restrictive phase—lasts only four days. It’s become standard practice for diet plans to begin with a jump-start phase with a severely limited list of allowable foods and/or portions. This phase of The Digest Diet, where you basically exist on smoothies and soups, is relatively short (the Dukan diet, by comparison, has a first phase that lasts up to 7 days). It’s impractical for people who have real lives to live with in such limits for too long—four days seems doable, though.
Reason 3: The diet teaches you about portion control and proper nutrition. Rather than just being about how much weight can you drop—and how fast—The Digest Diet aims to teach you how to eat for life. Some diets make it impossible for you to enjoy a meal at all—and others are almost too accommodating of poor nutritional habits, like a reliance on fast food. This plan seems to strike just the right balance.
Now, I am not a scientist and have not examined all the evidence supporting The Digest Diet’s claims. Nor have I tried it for myself. So I don’t know if it’s the be-all-end-all plan for everyone. What I do know is that the three points above are important components of any diet you choose. The fact is, a diet may have reams of evidence to support it, but if it forces you to eat in a way that’s unsatisfying, if you can’t live with it, and if it doesn’t lay the foundation for lifelong healthful eating, chances are it’s not the best plan for you.
Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and Spryliving.com. Ask her your question here.