Comparing Lifestyle Plans & Diets

Why is Lifestyle Change better than following a Diet Plan?

My personal goal when it comes to health is to learn & understand what helps to keep us full of energy and disease-free for the duration of our lives.  If we are able to give our bodies what they need to keep our hormones balanced so they can create the energy and vitality we want, then I am wondering….Why in the world don’t we do it?

Well, first, because maybe we don’t know how….at least not specifically.  We all have preconceived notions how is the best way to lose and maintain a healthy weight.   Unfortunately, being within an acceptable weight parameter does not necessarily mean we are in a healthy mode.  Also unfortunately, the world at large tries to deceive us into believing that being thin means being healthy.  While being thin as opposed to being obese has definite benefits in helping your body to heal itself, being thin in and of itself does not mean we are healthy – ample energy…minimal disease.

To be candid, most diets (at least the credible ones) have some level of success…especially in the beginning…

And that brings us to the realization that in order to really exact change we must adopt a lifestyle that is truly sustainable.  Long term….like the rest of your life…

Here are some of the more popular diet plans:

Eat 2 Heal Plan — DASH Diet — Mediterranean Diet — Ketogenic Lifestyle —

Paleo(lithic)  — Gluten-free — Vegetarian -/- Vegan — Atkins Diet –

Weight Watchers — NutriSystem — Jenny Craig 

These diets promote different ways to trick our bodies into losing weight but not necessarily sharing information on how to be healthy.

Here is a quick overview of each diet and my ratings on health value & sustainable weight loss effectiveness.

Rating System:

***** (5 stars)  Optimal for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

**** (4 stars)  Good for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

*** (3 stars)  OK for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

** (2 stars)  Not suggested for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

* (1 star)  Avoid for overall health value & sustainable weight loss


The Diets….tun tun tun

Eat 2 Heal Plan

***** (5 stars)  Optimal for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

The key to healing is to enable the body to maintain energy & be disease-free through creating hormone balance.   This can be accomplished by providing your body with the correct balance of: 

 REAL FOOD:  Macro/Micro-Nutrients …..BALANCE IS THE KEY…….

  • PROTEINS – non GMO & hormone-free
  • GOOD FATS – non processed
  • CARBOHYDRATES  – mainly lower glycemic


TOXIC FOODS:   preservatives, additives, processed & modified foods that can cause hormone imbalances, addictions & chronic disease(s). 


— The ingestion of Toxic Food causes inflammation and weakens cellular walls…which is why poor nutrition leads to loss of energy and, ultimately, disease in the body…

The 3-Step Plan 

The ‘”common sense plan”:    ‘take out the bad…. put in the good’…….

———Integrate Intermittent Fasting——–

….. waiting  a longer period between eating the last meal of the previous day and the first meal of the next day….




* Real Food (correct balance of macro-nutrients)

* Micro Nutrients

  • Minerals

  • Probiotics

  • Fiber

  • Herbs

  • Supplements (should be used with prudence and insight)

Other necessary components: 

* Managing stress –

* Chiropractic care –

* Getting adequate quality sleep –

* Living an active lifestyle

         This program really works to lower your insulin levels and help balance other hormones, providing energy, stabilizing weight and reducing inflammation.  All this, in turn, helps to heal the gut, strengthen the immune system and reduce chronic disease as the body works to heal itself.

“You can have your cake and eat it too…you just have to eat less cake”


Read more about Eat 2 Heal



*** (3 stars)  OK for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

When it comes to dieting, there seems to be an option for just about everything under the sun – from going gluten-free diet to the ketogenic diet. The most popular all-around diet for the eighth year running as of 2018, according to health experts with US News and World Report, is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

The DASH diet, to put it in simple terms, wants individuals to focus on consuming whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice, plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products such as skim milk and mozzarella cheese, lean meat, and other foods low in saturated and trans fats.

Read more about DASH

Mediterranean Diet

*** (3 stars)  Good for overall health value & sustainable weight loss (except for the canola oil which is bad)

If you haven’t found the perfect diet for your lifestyle, the Mediterranean diet might be an excellent option. This heart-healthy diet focuses on foods like fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. It also calls for reducing the amount of unhealthy fats and sugars that you consume and has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. The Mediterranean diet may lower cholesterol and blood pressure and decrease the risk of serious diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. These important health benefits are why many people swear by this healthy lifestyle.

Read more about Mediterranean

Ketogenic Lifestyle

**** (4 stars)  Good for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

“Nutritional Ketosis” is a natural metabolic state where your body burns fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates. When you decrease the available glucose in your body, stored fats are broken down (metabolized) to be used instead for energy. During this process, fatty acids known as ketones are released into the blood stream, hence the name: ‘ketosis’.

A ketogenic diet is simply any way of eating that promotes this process. Other popular terms for it are “low carb high fat” (LCHF) or “high fat low carbohydrate” (HFLC). The simple premise behind LCHF eating is that by reducing your intake of carbohydrates (sugars and starches) and increasing the percentage of fat intake, your body adapts to metabolizing fat for energy rather than carbohydrate. This is known as becoming ‘fat-adapted’, and there are many doctors, physicians and dietitians who are now encouraging their patients to adopt this way of eating.

Read more about Ketosis

Paleo(lithic) Lifestyle  

*** (3 stars)  Good for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

The Basics

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils.

Avoid: Processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.

Read more about Paleo


*** (3 stars)  OK for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

Eating gluten-free is mostly about finding recipes that do not contain gluten.  Generally those who choose to eat gluten-free are following a Paleo(lithic) lifestyle.

—— It’s no question that people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity feel better on a gluten-free diet, and it’s becoming increasingly popular in the mainstream as well.   But sticking with a truly gluten-free diet is challenging.     Find out if going “g-free” is right for you.

For people who aren’t fighting gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten is not a health necessity, but it can be a way to construct a new diet. In fact, if you decide to go gluten-free and you aren’t gluten sensitive, you could find that you feel better just because you are eating more healthfully.

A gluten-free diet is a return to foods that are good for you, says Shannon Rentz, RD, LD, adult clinical outpatient dietitian at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.    Fruits, vegetables, rice, corn — all those are healthy.

People who need to go on a gluten-free diet usually have one of these conditions:

  • Celiac Disease – People who have celiac disease have damage to villi (tiny fingerlike tissues that aid in digestion) in their digestive tract because of the chronic inflammation caused by gluten. When they eat even a tiny amount of gluten, they experience symptoms such as bloating, cramping, or specific types of skin rashes. People with celiac disease might also become lactose intolerant and have iron deficiency anemia.
  • Gluten intolerance or sensitivity – People with gluten sensitivity experience headaches, bloating, fatigue, or diarrhea after eating foods containing gluten. As a result, they find that a gluten-free diet improves the quality of life. It’s hard to get a good estimate on the number of people with gluten sensitivity. It’s more common than celiac disease and probably more common than we know — possibly as many as one in 10 people.

Read more about Gluten


Vegetarian -/-Vegan

*** (3 stars)  OK for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

The simplest definition of  vegetarianism is a diet free of meat, fish, and fowl flesh. But eating habits of vegetarians cover a wide spectrum. At one end are lacto-ovo vegetarians, who avoid animal flesh but eat eggs and milk products.

At the other end are  vegans , who forgo eating (and often wearing) all animal-based products, including honey. Raw foodists are vegans who eat mainly raw fruits, vegetables, legumes, sprouts, and nuts.

There are also pescatarians, who eat fish and seafood; and lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy products but not eggs.

Fruitarians follow a diet that includes fruits, nuts, seeds, and other plant food.

Flexitarians refer to vegetarians who occasionally eat meat and fish.

Many adherents of vegetarianism and veganism – former Beatle Paul McCartney and actor Alec Baldwin are two celebrities who happily promote the cause — regard a flesh-free diet not only as more healthful, but as a more ethical way to live. They point to the cruel practices and the high environmental cost of raising animals for food as reasons for excluding meat from the diet.

Most Americans, however, continue to eat some form of meat or fish. Ten percent of people consider themselves to be vegetarians, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.

Most doctors and nutritionists agree that a low-fat diet high in fruits, vegetables, and nuts can be a boon to health. There’s also research suggesting that reducing or eliminating red meat from the diet may cut your risk of heart disease.Research also has shown that a vegan or vegetarian diet may lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.  And a 2011 study found that vegetarians had lower triglyceridesglucose levelsblood pressure, and body mass index (BMI).A meatless diet can be healthy, but vegetarians — especially vegans — need to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin B12calcium, iron, and zinc.The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns of the risk of vitamin B12 deficiencies in vegetarians and vegans. Vitamin B12 is found naturally only in animal products. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and blindness. It can also cause muscle weakness, tingling, and numbness. To counteract the increased risk, vegans should include B12 supplements, or fortified cereals and veggie burgers.Vegans and ovo-vegetarians, who eat eggs but not dairy, need to find foods (dark green vegetables, tofu, edamame, soy nuts, butternut squash, calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages) or supplements that compensate for the missing calcium from their diets. Absorbable calcium is critical to protect against osteoporosis, or thinning bones.

Read more about Vegetarian -/– Vegan


The Atkins Diet

*** (3 stars)  OK for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

The Basics 

The core concept of the Atkins diet is Dr. Atkins’ theory that over-consumption of and hypersensitivity to carbohydrates is at the root of weight gain. The principle Atkins bases his plan on says that it is the way your body processes the carbohydrates you eat – not how much fat you eat – that causes us to have a weight problem.

Dr. Atkins says that many overweight people may be insulin resistant – the cells that convert carbohydrates into glucose (which becomes energy) do not work correctly. Atkins suggests it is more likely than not that most overweight people are in fact insulin resistant. Dr. Atkins’ remedy to insulin resistance (or simple over-consumption of carbohydrates) is strict carbohydrate restriction.

In order to follow the Atkins plan, you must begin monitoring and controlling your carbohydrate intake. There are specific foods that are allowed and not allowed during certain portions of the plan.

Read more about Atkins

NutriSystem Diet

* (1 star)  Avoid for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

Nutrisystem aims to simplify weight loss  by buying most (?) of your food from Nutrisystem. The company ships it to your door. Each day, you eat a Nutrisystem breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. You also add side items like fresh fruits and veggies and snacks that you buy from the grocery store.

The plan is not for pregnant women, people with chronic kidney disease, or anyone with certain allergies or diet needs. It’s not for children under age 14, though Nutrisystem offers programs for teens ages 14 to 17.

Nutrisystem is a 28-day program that offers prepackaged foods.  Breakfast options include oatmeal, muffins, granola, and pancakes.  Lunches and dinners include selections like tacos; chicken and pasta; soup, stew, and chili; and pizza.For desserts and snacks, you might have brownies, cake, or cookies.The program provides a long list of fruits, vegetables, nuts, fresh meat and dairy, and other foods that you purchase yourself and can eat along with your Nutrisystem foods.Overall, the foods and meal plans focus on:A variety of nutrients. About half your calories come from carbs, 25% from protein, and 25% from fat.“Smart” carbohydrates. Limited calories. Limited sodium.
Limitations: You pick your foods from the choices Nutrisystem offers. There are 150 foods to choose from their most extensive plan “Uniquely Yours.” You can also choose from dozens of items to buy on your own at the grocery store.Cooking and shopping: You can buy a 28-day shipment of food that the company selects, or you can choose each individual item yourself. You can sign up for a meal plan intended for women, men, vegetarians, people with diabetes, or anyone older than 60.You hardly have to cook, since most Nutrisystem foods either are ready to eat or only need heating. But some items that you buy from the grocery store, like vegetables and fish, may involve more preparation.Packaged foods or meals: Required.ExerciseNutrisystem suggests you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. You can break this up into three 10-minute periods throughout the day.
There are meal plans for vegetarians and people with diabetes.  But the program does not have plans for people following a vegan diet. And it doesn’t allow for certain food allergies (including soy or peanut allergies), and it’s not gluten-free.
Cost: In general, expect to pay from about $230 to the mid $300s a month for the Nutrisystem foods, plus whatever you buy from the grocery store.

Read more about NutriSystem

Weight Watcher’s Diet

** (2 stars)  Not suggested for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

The new SmartPoints food plan guides members toward an overall eating pattern that is lower in calories, saturated fat and sugar, and higher in protein. However, you can eat whatever you want – provided you stick to your daily SmartPoints target, a number based on your gender, weight, height and age. You can find the points values of more than 290,000 foods on the mobile app or desktop food database. Processed choices like bologna usually have higher point values due to calories and saturated fat. Fresh fruits and most vegetables carry zero points, so you can eat as many as you need to feel full. That’s because they tend to be low-calorie and nutrient-dense, so they’re more filling than, say, a candy bar. (Fruit juice, dried fruit and starchy vegetables don’t count as freebies, since they’re more calorie-dense for the same serving size.)

Read more about Weight Watchers

Jenny Craig

* (1 star)  Avoid for overall health value & sustainable weight loss

With this plan, you’ll get prepackaged low-calorie food, a consultant to offer support in person or on the phone (if you want), online tools to help you plan and track meals, and an exercise plan.There are no banned foods, “detox” potions, or menus loaded with exotic foods that claim to melt fat.You’ll mostly eat Jenny Craig’s weekly menus of 70 different prepackaged foods, at least at first. You’ll get about 1,200 calories a day, depending on your height and weight. In one study, Jenny Craig clients lost an average of 10% of their body weight the first year on the plan.
Besides Jenny Craig prepackaged meals, you can also have fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduced-fat dairy products.Jenny Craig’s approach focuses on choosing low-fat foods that are rich in water, fiber, and protein to fill you up. In general, you can eat as many nonstarchy vegetables (like tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers) as you want.You can also have occasional splurges like alcoholic beverages. No food is ever completely off-limits.
You won’t need to cook at first. When you’re halfway to your weight loss goal, you’ll start eating a few meals made at home. Once you reach your target weight, you spend 4 weeks transitioning to home-cooked meals.
Limitations: You’ll be eating a lot of Jenny Craig’s foods until you get close to your goal.
Cooking and shopping: Prepackaged meals make meal planning and preparation easy and cut down on temptation at the grocery store.
Packaged foods and meals: Required.
In-person meetings: Optional. There are more than 600 nationwide Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centers.
Exercise:You work with a consultant to reach a goal of 30 minutes or more of moderate activity at least 5 days a week.
Vegetarians and vegans: There aren’t a lot of prepackaged meatless meal options. If you’re vegan, the plan wouldn’t work for you, since all of the vegetarian entrees are made with dairy.
Low-fat diet: All of the prepackaged meals are low in fat.
Low-salt diet: Jenny Craig’s meals have no more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day.
Gluten-free: Gluten is not off-limits. If you have celiac disease or are avoiding gluten for other reasons, you would need to ask Jenny Craig if the company has any options that would work for you.
Costs: You’ll pay a monthly fee, plus the cost of your food.Regardless of your plan, the prepackaged meals and associated shipping charges are extra. The average cost of food each day is between $15 and $26, according to the company’s website.

Read more about Jenny Craig

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