6 Key Questions to Answer
In order to design your own diet, Bauer and Jones advise asking yourself the following six questions:
• Do you prefer to eat three, five, or eight meals a day? Once you determine your desired eating schedule, divide your calories accordingly.
• How much time will you devote to food preparation? If you hate to cook, or have limited time, you'll need to simplify the preparation of healthy, fresh, and lightly processed foods.
• What type of support, and how much, do you require? Everyone needs some cheering on to succeed, especially when the initial enthusiasm for changing bad habits begins to wane. Family and friends, online weight loss communities, and diet buddies can help you when you're tempted to ditch your healthier diet and exercise program.
• Do you love to dine out? You'll need to account for restaurant food by seeking out the calorie counts of the foods you eat most often.
• Will you require a daily treat to feel satisfied? If you can't live without a little something special every day, reserve 100 calories for a single-serve package of cookies or chips, or for a frozen treat, like a fudge bar.
• How much exercise can you reasonably do? Experts recommend at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, such as walking, on most days of the week, but you may have to build up to that, especially if you aren't physically active. Ask your doctor what's best for you.
Calculating Calories For Weight Loss
Diets don't work unless you run a calorie deficit by eating less energy than you burn. Most healthy people without chronic conditions can safely drop no more than two pounds a week on a balanced diet.
Adhering to a daily calorie budget for weight loss is the crux of any successful do-it-yourself diet plan. Your calorie allowance is based on your age, sex, physical activity level, and weekly weight loss goals.
Once you have calculated your calorie level, the next step is figuring out what to eat for weight loss. Bauer says the best diet plans are based on whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy foods, because they lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid.gov web site provides a blueprint for healthy eating, no matter what your weight goal. The number of servings to include on a daily basis from each of the five food groups, and oils, is determined by the calorie level you choose for weight loss. MyPyramid.gov also provides information about proper portions for foods in each food group.