Happy New Year from Mama Jess – let’s talk about resolution #1: Diets and Losing Weight

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in blog

Happy New Year Friends!


I love starting a new year. I love fresh beginnings. I know some people just wake up and feel the same as last year – but not me. I thrive on the new energy of a new year and all that comes with it. Simple things like getting a new calendar, having a little break from the school routine (homework, lunches, early mornings, etc) and a new plans for 2013 just make me feel re-energized.


I hope you are ignited with some of that positivity a new year brings. I know so many people start their New Years Resolutions on January 1st – and the number one resolution is still losing weight. Many people implement that word “Diet” (yes, that’s practically a four letter word to a majority of even ‘diet’itians!). I’m about to tackle a very emotionally charged subject here – food and diets. I have been trained and I completely believe that there isn’t a “diet” that can help you lose weight – but it’s a way of life. You must make permanent changes to your lifestyle and eating habits. I believe you MUST also change your thinking – it’s deeply based in habits and routine. There is SO much more to losing weight than just providing you with perfectly balanced meals everyday and often people don’t want to hear just that.


I’m am not knocking all the “diet plans” out there. They have their place. But in my honest opinion there are several fads, trends and misleading tactics. You can learn from several branded ‘diets’ and take what works for you. Eating is so personal, I don’t think one plan fits for everyone. And you certainly need flexibility built in your food choices for a normal, realistic and social way of life.


These are the Top 12 that I hear about lately with my brief one line description:(disclaimer: just a very general summary, please research more before starting any one plan!)


1. Raw Food – uncooked and unprocessed foods only

2. Paleo – ancestral human diet high in meats, veggies, seeds, no carbs or dairy

3. HCG – hormones and very restrictive calories

4. Dukan – high protein, limited carbs in steps

5. South Beach -good carbs and good fats in phases

6. Atkins – low carb, high in meats and fats – set in phases

7. The Zone – 40:30:30 carb, protein, fat ratios

8. Macrobiotic – no processed foods, only grains, beans, veggies and fruits

9. Gluten Free  – foods without any gluten (wheat, rye, barley)

10. Volumetric’s  – high fiber and low density foods for satiety

11. Engine 2 – vegetarian, no highly processed foods

12. Ornish – low fat, vegetarian, high fiber



I’ve been asked several times what my favorite or preferred ‘diet’ is for me or for patients. I am going to decline to answer here – just to keep this blog post fair. Keep your eye out for future blogs with a few of my favorite books and you’ll get a taste of the ones I could endorse. Really I’m a lifelong student of nutrition and I learn from a lot of experts and apply that to my own needs. This results in my own custom path – a way of life not a diet with an end, beginning or phase. Everyone’s eating plan needs a re-evaluation once and awhile. I do it for myself probably 3 times a year and I do it for my kids at least 4 times a year. Doing a food log is essential to tracking where you are and where you want to go. A food log is probably my number one advice and the best starting point.  And it is so important for parents (remember we are solely responsible for our children’s basic needs: food, shelter & clothing) to track our children’s intakes for a a couple days throughout the year (at minimum 2 times due to seasonality). You’d be surprised the food groves kids get in due to school, snacks and social habits. It’s always best to start young talking about nutrition. Two great options:


  1. Use my quick and easy RDA Checklist for children. It’s a really easy ay to just record  what they eat as the day progresses: 
  2. Sign up for the USDA’s SuperTracker. If you enter your info you can then create profiles for your children based on age, weight and activity level. It will provide you with a meal plan for each member of your family:



As for us adults – there are several apps available for tracking. I don’t encourage anyone to be glued to these for life because it creates a food obsession but these tools are great for evaluating and making changes. I use them to re-adjust or reset my eating habits throughout the year. If we get completely fixated on calories then we tend to use artificial ingredients and highly processed foods (believe me the scientist in me still thinks it’s incredible we can invent some foods with 0 calories and loads of flavor, but is that really a food? Certainly not a ‘whole food’).


As for a plan for 2013:

  1. Start small. First see where you are in your eating patterns and intake (Food log). Then what are your goals? Eating healthier? Losing weight? Eating more consciously? Organically? Increasing your vegetable consumption?
  2. Map out what your intake should be – based on food categories and caloric intake. You could do that on your own or use an existing plan BUT I’d always first recommend the talented pool of Registered Dietitians or a highly recommended Nutrition Counselor to get you started. Also, getting a Complete Blood Count before you start (as well as a general check-up and clearance by your physician is recommended) and repeat this after 6 months of your newly implemented lifestyle to be sure your eating plan is actually resulting in a good CBC. Remember, it’s what’s inside that IS more important and food really is medicine!
  3. Take the first step to your new way of LIFE. Not a diet, level, phase, cleanse, etc. Touch base after 2 months, 6 months, 9 months and make adjustments & create good habits.



If you have found a ‘diet’ that seems to fit your needs – study it, adjust it for you and reality. Remember there is NO magic formula to any diet. And don’t forget to really look long and hard at past failures and current habits. Learn from those and be better prepared for 2013.


Here is to a HEALTHY YOU in 2013 –  I wish you balance, health and happiness in the year ahead!


Mama Jess