The NO Diet Diet by Julie Feldman, MPH, RD

The NO DIET Diet is a “learn-how-to-eat-right” plan. The emphasis is on eating real food, with a straight-forward approach with no gimmicks. The NO DIET Diet takes into account the fast-paced lifestyle of the twenty-first century, while suggesting healthier “fast-foods” when wholesome sit-down meals are not an option.

The NO DIET Diet brings people back to basics: proteins, vegetables, fruits, grains (the real carbohydrates) and good fats (often overlooked on most diet plans). One lesson teaches how to properly analyze the ingredients lists on nutrition labels. One hint: If you can't pronounce the items on the ingredients list, it's not a food, so don't eat it.

It's interesting to know that processed carbohydrates were not in existence until 10,000 years ago. In fact, the diet of our ancestors (Paleolithic Diet) consisted of 19-35% protein, 22-40% carbohydrates and 21-59% fat. Since agriculture and manufacturing of carbohydrates emerged, the ratios have changed, with processed carbohydrates leading as highest percent of total intake, while healthy, unsaturated fats have decreased dramatically.

In order to lose weight, many are conscious about lowering their intake of carbohydrates. The missing link, however, is that all carbohydrates are not equal, both in health quality and glycemic index. The NO DIET Diet clearly explains this disparity as it encourages people to eat primarily low glycemic, healthy grains as the carbohydrate of choice. We are a society of quick fixes and all-or-none behaviors, but the truth is, these lead to temporary weight loss, followed by weight gain. To adopt a more middle-of-the-road approach would lead to much more success in battling the bulge and losing weight.

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how high and how fast a food makes your blood sugar rise. When blood sugar rises, it leads to immediate fat storage. So, to choose a food that is low on the GI means more long-term energy and less fat storage. All proteins, fats, oils, and vegetables are low on this scale. Most fruits are medium glycemic index and sweet fruits, such as cantaloupe and honeydew are high. Processed carbohydrates (typical breakfast foods, breads, pizza, pancakes, chips) are all high and some are very high. Whole grains, such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa (keen-wah), amaranth and millet have more nutritional value, including protein, fiber, vitamins and even good fats, thus making them low on the glycemic index. Lastly, to eat a low food at the same time as a high food would give a medium result, thus less fat storage.

Using the glycemic index is one component of the NO DIET Diet. Think of foods in these categories: Everyday foods, once a week foods and once a month foods. Everyday foods are your staples and should include at least vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds (raw and plain), brown rice. Once a week foods may include desserts or cold cereals. Once a month foods may include a steak, and for some chocolate mousse or other super high saturated fat foods. If you use these categories, you'll realize that you can fit all, or at least most foods into your diet - which means you'll be much more compliant.

With our fast-paced lifestyles and the increased availability of fast foods, many do not even know what eating right means. It means eating real foods, every few hours, at a comfortable relaxed pace, rather than starving yourself for hours and devouring a meal in the car between appointments. Remember "You are what you eat", so start eating real food, rather than fake, processed things that call themselves food. Don't forget about vegetables - these are the only item that everyone absolutely has to eat every day. No ifs ands or buts about it!

Use your hand as your guide as to how much to eat: most women only need four to five ounces of protein and men about six to eight ounces (the same size as the palm of your hand). For whole grains or carbohydrates, check your fist - this is about a half-cup for women or a cup for men. And vegetables and oils? The rest of your plate should be filled with veggies and there should be at least one tablespoon of olive oil on top of your food, or used in the cooking process.

Remember, be realistic and practical. Try to improve your diet one step at a time. Remove the unhealthy foods that are not important to you and keep in some that are. For example, if the only way you'll eat raw vegetables is to use a creamy, high fat salad dressing, then do so - for some, the pros of eating raw vegetables outweigh the cons of creamy dressings.

Julie Feldman, MPH, RD is author of the “NO DIET Diet” and owner of Creative Nutrition & Wellness, a national health consulting practice. For more info, visit: www.CreativeNutrition.com or call 1-877-5-EATWELL.