By Lee Anne Grace
It was 1979, and I was giddy with excitement. I was convinced I had found the answer to my prayers: grapefruit.
The thin, beautiful lady on TV said the grapefruit diet would magically melt fat off my body. As an overweight, shy 15 year old, I hung on every word she said. Eating grapefruit was going to stop the daily teasing about my size and maybe even result in an invitation to the prom.
Armed with a huge bag of grapefruit and endless motivation to succeed, I made it my mission to consume the specified number of grapefruits per day. I quickly learned I didn’t like grapefruit at all, but I wanted my excess pounds to melt away as promised, so I stuck with it. By the fifth day I had lost six pounds. Several days later I decided I didn’t want to see another grapefruit for the rest of my life and lapsed back into my old eating habits.
The grapefruit diet was the first of many fad diets I tried. Name a diet, and chances are I’ve been on it. If I could recover all the money I’ve spent on fad diets I could buy that triathlon bike I’ve been saving for, take a long vacation and help retire the national debt.
Before you invest your hard-earned dollars into a new diet or nutritional regimen, ask yourself these questions about the program:
• Is it medically sound? Are the things you are being asked to ingest safe? If in doubt, give you doctor’s office a call and ask for his or her opinion. If a product really existed that you could take or eat to melt the pounds away, it would be one of the major medical discoveries of the century.
• Is it nutritionally sound? The program should contain a well-balanced portion of a variety of nutrients from the major food groups. Caloric consumption should not fall below 1,200 calories a day, unless you are being closely supervised by a physician. Extreme reduction of calories will result in rapid weight loss early on, but will not sustain weight loss for a significant period of time.
• Does the program address behavior modification to change eating habits? For example, most everyone will lose weight drinking meal replacement shakes, but do you want to drink the shakes for the rest of your life? Do you have a plan in place to establish healthy eating patterns for the long term once the weight is off?
• How did you learn about the program? If there is any profit being made by those promoting the diet products, be sure to make sure the program has a long-term proven track record that is independently verifiable. Take some time and research the program for yourself. The diet industry in America is enormous because so many of us deeply desire to lose weight. Use common sense before spending money. Is it the diet product that’s being marketed that is causing the weight loss, or could the same results be achieved by following a recommended diet without the expensive supplements?
If you are thinking about starting a new diet program, do your research first. Check with your doctor and other health professionals. Investigate the diet’s claims on the Internet. Evaluate if it addresses the long-term change of eating patterns. If the diet program requires buying products, are they safe and necessary for success?
It would be wonderful if there was something we could buy or eat to make the weight we want to lose melt away. I found out many years ago grapefruit doesn’t have secret powers, and neither do pills, cabbage or a host of other things. There isn’t a product that will defy this truth: To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn.
There are many different nutritional plans from which to choose. What works for one person may not be as effective for others. Educate yourself, have realistic expectations and be patient with yourself. You are worth it.
Lee Anne Grace is an elementary music teacher for Tupelo Public Schools. After reaching a weight of almost 300 pounds and failing at numerous diets for over 25 years, she has been successful at losing weight and maintaining her weight loss for three years. She is the mother of two teenage daughters and enjoys running in her spare time.