I know I caught your attention! After Americans are done ringing in the new year and are past all the holiday cheer, the number one New Year’s resolution starts: weight loss. So … which diet to choose?

Well, after a quick search of diet books currently on the market, and 394 authors later, I defer to the common sense illustrated by my clients who have successfully lost weight and kept it off. I know the column I am about to write will not sell books on Amazon.com. But it will save you money and a lot of time and frustration. Weight loss is simply a lifestyle choice.

The behaviors that make for a healthy lifestyle are pretty basic. In the words of one client, a young woman who has successfully lost and kept off 150 pounds for the past two years, “there is no magic bullet.” Considering that more money is spent on diet pills, vitamins and herbal remedies promoting youth, and on exercise equipment that ends up in Uncle Henry’s, than is spent on fruits, vegetables and real food, I have come to realize that simple basic eating is a lost art. And good old-fashioned sweat-producing exercise most days of the week and actually participating in sports is, sadly, only for others.

The food industry has latched on to value marketing — a store or fast food restaurant offers you twice as much product for only 20 percent more cost. Sounds like a good deal for the consumer. All businesses will give their customers what they buy the most — we can’t blame fast food establishments for our poor habits.

Calories from any source — including fat and protein — when eaten in quantities greater than our needs will cause us to gain weight. I agree that Americans have overdone the reduced-fat message and unwittingly increased their carbohydrate intake. But nutrition science never promoted fat-free as the solution. And the carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and whole grains are not what Americans have been filling up on. I have seen a definite trend toward eating large quantities of highly refined carbohydrates, such as pasta and bagels and drinking sugar-laden soda in quantities that exceed the calories consumed in one healthy, well-balanced meal. Constant snacking has taken the place of eating three squares a day. Even fat-free snack foods are still loaded with calories.

Excellent examples of the benefits of going back to the basics for achieving lifelong health are the clients I see who have achieved normal blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol by focusing on balance and moderation in a total package of foods in an eating plan. These clients also focus on keeping food in its appropriate place as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Almost all foods can fit into a healthful diet if consumed in moderation with the appropriate portion size. Try eating three ounces or servings of whole grains per day, include a vegetable and fruit at each meal, switch to skim or low fat milk products, and keep portions of “lean” meats — fish and chicken — to what fits in the palm of the hand. You can still use added fat for flavor, such as butter or oil — just in moderation.

These successful people have learned to keep even their fun foods to moderate portion sizes — half a cup of ice cream or two small cookies — as occasional foods. By ending a meal with a fruit, however, the palate is cleared and the desire for more concentrated sweets is diminished.

Now, try my guaranteed weight-loss sample menu that incorporates the foods and portions listed above for just one day and see if you are satisfied to get from breakfast to lunch to dinner without feeling hungry. And don’t deprive yourself of an evening snack. The key is one evening snack.


1/2 cup egg substitute poured over 1 cup vegetables sautéed in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

(my favorites are onion, mushrooms and green pepper)

1 slice or one ounce of 100 percent whole wheat bread topped with

1 teaspoon whipped butter

1/2 grapefruit or one orange


1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and banana or apple slices on two slices of 100 percent whole wheat bread

1 cup grape tomatoes

1 cup skim milk


Three ounces chicken, fish, lean pork or beef (grilled, baked or sautéed in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil)

1 small baked potato (try microwaving for four to five minutes) topped with 1 teaspoon whipped butter

1 cup vegetables (steamed, microwaved or sautéed in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil)

1 cup mixed berries topped with 1 cup fat free yogurt and a dash of cinnamon

Evening snack

1 cup hot cocoa made with skim or 1 percent milk

or 1 cup fat free yogurt and fresh fruit

or 1 cup skim milk over one ounce of your favorite whole grain cereal

(my favorites are oatmeal, Cheerios or Grape-Nuts sweetened with 1 teaspoon maple syrup)

As for exercise, getting up a half hour early to start the day with a brisk walk, or spending the back end of lunch break walking instead of waiting in line at the fast food drive up, participating in an adult sports league, coaching your child’s soccer team, getting a membership at the YMCA or local health club or, for those fortunate enough to have one, using the fitness center at their work site, are all the things I hear that work. Get out at sunrise and I am sure you will meet those successful people who are not looking for the magic bullet but are definitely hitting the target of a healthy lifestyle.

Now, save that money you were just about to spend on the latest diet book and reward yourself with good health in the new year.

Marcia Kyle, a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator, works in the diabetes and nutrition care center at Pen Bay Healthcare. She can be reached 596-8537.