New year, new diet advice: With every January comes a virtual library of new books on how to be slimmer, trimmer and (sometimes) healthier. From the French to the Aztecs, we combed the recent releases to find the best diet advice to help you jumpstart your year of healthy living.
The Parisian Diet: How to Reach Your Right Weight and Stay There by Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen
Dr. Cohen’s diet advice for Americans is not unlike other European-style prescriptions: Eat meals more slowly (take at least 20 minutes at meals 3 times a day) and snack less. Most intriguing is his concept of your “Right Weight,” essentially an average of your weights during your adult life. Though that number may still fall in the overweight category, he encourages dieters to get there and then maintain that weight for at least six months before continuing to lose—a healthy approach that normalizes plateaus and may prevent yo-yoing on the scale.
Best diet advice: The day after a splurge, opt for a “recovery meal”: two hard-boiled egg whites, a large plate of veggies and a cup of nonfat milk.
Porter’s plan is more a recommendation of a plant-based, whole-foods-heavy lifestyle than specific diet advice. This approach is sensible, but its emphasis on intuition and lack of structure may bother some. The “MILF” moniker—popularized in the movie American Pie, which Porter spells out slightly more politely as “mother with whom I’d like to fornicate”—is mostly a gimmick, but the author is quite thoughtful on the topic of discussing diet with your children, suggesting moms mostly let them draw their own conclusions about how certain foods make them feel and look.
Best diet advice: Take the time to chew at least one-third of the food on your plate very slowly—aim for 50+ chews per mouthful. This helps regulate your pace and eases digestion.
The Virgin Diet: Why Food Intolerance is the Real Cause of Weight Gain by JJ Virgin, CNS, CHFS
We’re all a little tired of the notion of gluten-free as a weight-loss plan, but JJ Virgin points out that many popular diet foods—whole-wheat bread, yogurt, tofu—also happen to be foods that some people can’t tolerate. Her diet advice? Cut out the seven foods most likely to cause food intolerance: gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts and sugar and artificial sweeteners. After 21 days, gradually add them back in to see which, if any, give your tummy trouble. Virgin’s approach is a smart one if you truly suspect you might have celiac disease or another type of food intolerance; it’s a bit high-maintenance as simply a weight-loss plan.
Best diet advice: Have a couple of staple healthy meal templates—Virgin likes soups, rice bowls, wraps and salads—so you can easily mix-and-match healthy protein-carb combos.
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The Thyroid Solution Diet: Boost Your Sluggish Metabolism to Lose Weight by Ridha Arem, MD
Many a frustrated dieter has blamed his or her thyroid, but the beauty of Arem’s diet advice is that it’s a nutritionally sound plan for everyone, a variation on the Mediterranean diet that emphasizes protein and low-glycemic foods. The endocrinologist also places a great deal of emphasis on other lifestyle habits such as proper sleep, stress management and exercise.
Best diet advice: Stick as closely to this eating schedule as possible: breakfast between 6-8 a.m., lunch between 11-12:30 p.m., dinner between 5-7 p.m. and snacks if necessary at 10 and 3. It keeps your hormones level throughout the day and will optimize your sleep, too.
“Ancient” diets are all the rage, and the latest proclaims Aztec warriors as a health ideal—thanks in part to their consumption of chia, a seed high in fiber, omega-3s, magnesium, calcium and iron. Arnot’s commitment to this “superfood” is extreme: The first two weeks of this diet consists of only chia smoothies and light snacks, and the six-week second phase replaces two meals with smoothies. But Phase 3, which he says is “an incredibly healthy way to eat for the rest of your life,” is similar to Paleo plans with a few more additions like beans and limited dairy.
Best diet advice: Don’t underestimate the importance of beverages—the right choices can fill you up and help control hunger. Arnot likes almond milk, skim milk, coconut water and green tea—and drinks a 6 oz. serving of Coke every day as his special treat.
You won’t find any recipes, meal plans or exercises in this book—Tuma-Young, a life coach, focuses on the way our overscheduled, stress-filled lives prevent us from making the right choices. Instead of traditional diet advice, the book is chock-full of practical exercises for finding room in our lives for healthy routines, from journaling to organizational tips to easy meditation practices.
Best diet advice: Sit down and write out your “ideal schedule” for a week that includes your best healthy habits, e.g. workouts on Mondays and Wednesdays, volunteering on Thursday, cooking for the week on Sunday. Then continue with your actual schedule for a month, but brainstorm how you might gradually convert it to the ideal one—say, trading off picking up kids with a friend, quitting a commitment you no longer love or asking your boss for a more flexible schedule.