You can lose weight while enjoying the foods that you love if you eat mindfully. That's the heart of the Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat philosophy.
It's partly about emotional eating. On her web site, author Michelle May, MD, says she's a "recovered yo-yo dieter."
On this plan, you ask yourself -- before the first bite -- if you're really hungry or are feeling something else, like anger, loneliness, or boredom.
It's also about noticing when you're full, and not eating after that point.
What You Can Eat and What You Can't
Eat foods that you enjoy, but try to include these in your diet:
Produce. Choose colorful, high-fiber fruits and vegetables more often than starchier potatoes and corn. Eat plenty of beans, too.
Grains. Try to make half of the servings that you eat whole grains.
Dairy. Low-fat and nonfat options are healthiest.
Meat, poultry, and fish. Lean cuts of red meat and skinless poultry are best. Eat seafood instead of other meats at least twice a week.
Sweets. Cake, chocolate, and other sugary treats are allowed in moderation, if you decide that you really want them.
Alcohol. If you already drink, you may continue, especially if you favor red wine. But keep it moderate: Women shouldn't have more than one drink per day; men should stop at two.
Level of Effort: Medium
The big changes will be asking yourself whether you're hungry before you eat, because many people eat to try to satisfy other triggers.
When you decide that you're hungry enough to eat, stop everything else and concentrate on the flavors, textures, and colors so you'll know when you start to feel full -- no more eating mindlessly while driving or watching TV.
Limitations: There aren't a lot of limitations in terms of what you can eat. The plan is based on eating foods you enjoy, so while healthy foods are encouraged, most foods are fair game.
Cooking and shopping: You may not need to change your shopping list or cooking habits drastically. It's more about tuning in to why you're eating.
Packaged foods or meals: No.
In-person meetings: No.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
Because you can eat any food you like on this plan, it can easily meet your dietary needs, whether you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or follow a low-salt or low-fat diet.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: None besides your groceries.
Support: You do this plan on your own. May has an "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat" web site. She is also the founder of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshops, which take an approach similar to the book.
What Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD, Says:
Does It Work?
There is growing evidence that noticing when you're hungry and when you’re full (often called mindful eating) can improve weight and body image.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
Anyone can use this plan, including people with health conditions, as it mainly focuses on how to eat, paying attention at meals, and focusing on hunger and fullness.
The nutritional information is basic, so if you have a health condition, you need to follow the diet guidelines that your doctor gave you.
For instance, if you have high blood pressure, you need to follow the sodium limits your doctor gave you. The same goes for carb counting if you have diabetes, and lowering saturated fat if you have heart disease. May also has a book that focuses on mindful eating with diabetes.
The Final Word
The book is positive. It recommends joyful exercise and relating to food in a healthy way, with nutrition information based on accepted guidelines. But some may not like that it doesn’t focus on weight.
Yo-yo dieters will benefit most from this book, because it's not a diet; it's about building a better relationship to food.
If you are at high risk for weight-related conditions and need to lose weight quickly, this diet might not be right for you.