Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Diet or Not to Diet?

Strictly speaking, a diet is what you eat on a regular basis. When we talk about dieting, we typically think of cutting calories to try and be more healthy. In reality, what we are really doing is adjusting our diet, but frankly, we're all on diets, always.

The Word of Wisdom provides us with a pretty basic (and quite healthy) plan for how we can maintain a healthy diet, namely:
  • avoid alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea and other harmful substances or drugs
  • eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially while they are in season
  • eat grains
  • sparingly eat meat
In addition to the simple steps to following this "diet," there is also a promise that accompanies it:
And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.
Aside from just what we eat, the gospel also teaches us to remain athletically active. Physical activity, coupled with healthy eating, has been proven to not just control weight, but contributes to an overall feeling of health and happiness.

So what about all those other diets? It appears that in the culture that we live in, rather than just inventing our own diets based on the simple steps outlined above, we often look for preconceived diets and the processes they describe. While the purpose of dieting should always be to "alter our diets" to make us feel more healthy, and rarely for the sole purpose of drastic weight loss, sometime a prescribed plan is helpful. WebMD has provided an interesting resource that allows users to look at an overview of major diet plans and then decide which plan is best for them. You can see this list here. These diets should be reviewed carefully and aligned with the solid gospel principles found in the Word of Wisdom and other revelations.

No matter what plan you take to "alter your diet," it appears that in the end, being resolute and constant in your chosen plan is often more important that the plan itself. In 2005, the Journal of the American Medical Association published findings from the Tufts-New England Medical Center indicating that of 160 individuals who participated in four diets, all those who followed their diets closely (whichever diet it may have been) lost weight. Basically, make a plan and stick to it. When choosing a diet that is manageable and responsible, the primary focus should be feeling healthy, and not solely weight loss. Incidentally, the study also found that none of the popular diets produced more than "modest" weight loss.

By following the basic principles of the Word of Wisdom and by exercising regularly, everyone can find a diet (as in what you eat on a regular basis) that will help them to feel healthy. Faddish diets, short-term fixes, or focuses solely on weight loss are rarely characteristics of a manageable and long-term diet plan.

So to diet or not to diet? Well again, strictly speaking, you already have a diet. To determine if you need to "adjust" your diet, ask yourself the simple question: "What do I need to feel more healthy?"
Contributing: Chris Giovarelli
Yucel Tellici

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