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A step-by-step guide to your January diet plans

Posted on 14th January 2011 in Gossip
Written by: Jen Dugdale

I’m sure you’re all experiencing that far-from-subtle nudge towards post-Christmas dieting. The adverts on our televisions have transformed from indulgent food and festive treats to weightwatchers, gym memberships and calorie counting.

If like me you’ve piled on the pounds, you’ll be experiencing what I like to call the Christmas Curse. Before December I’d lost 2 stone and was feeling pretty damn good about myself. Since then…well I’ll be honest – I haven’t even plucked up the courage to step back onto the scales!

According to Sainsbury’s research, a whopping 80% of people struggle to stick to a healthy eating plan in January and 42% last just 2-4 weeks in their attempt to shift those Christmas muffin tops! I was quite happy in my bubble of thinking that Ryvita and satsumas were the only things available to me, until mince pies started making their way back onto the shelves! Now I can’t quite seem to crack the craving for yummy treats.

It’s tricky to find a diet that really makes you lose weight, and trust me I’ve tried the lot. Whatever diet you go for, the key is to have motivation and a little bit of the magic will power. Without those two ingredients, the best diets in the world will fail. Eliminating faddy novelty dieting can really help you stay in it for the long run. But everyone’s different…so if you think you’re close to giving up, take a look at these diets and pick one that suits your lifestyle and your bank balance!

It’s important to remember that Weightwatchers doesn’t offer a quick-fix, but rather a lifestyle re-jig towards a healthier eating plan, to help lose and maintain weight loss. Weightwatchers is a lot about group support, attending meetings, weigh-ins and group motivation. So if you’re anything like me and you prefer clinging to a friend for support, then this could suit you down to the ground.

The beauty of Weightwatchers is the points system – you count points rather than calories. So you can have treats as long as you don’t go over your daily points allowance. And you even get flexibility when it comes to special occasions…what more could you want?!

My verdict: I couldn’t handle the public weigh-ins, but if you’re okay with that sort of thing, this is a great choice.

Atkins Diet
The top selling point we’ve all heard before – the Atkins diet allows you to shed pounds quickly whilst still being able to tuck into a greasy fry-up. The idea is that you put on weight through carbs rather than fat…so eliminate the carbs and you’re away!

Lowering your carb intake and replacing with high protein foods means your body burns your fat which it uses as fuel. If you can get through the very strict first two weeks, the diet relaxes and allows substitutes like whole wheat bread. You need the will-power of a saint for this one, but the benefits can be huge and pounds can disappear very quickly.

My verdict: I’m not happy without pasta in my life so if you’re the same, this one definitely isn’t for you.

Cabbage Soup Diet
From personal experience with my distinct lack of will power, I wouldn’t recommend this. That is, unless you love cabbage like no other! This is a quick fix diet for those looking to shed a little excess weight quickly. It certainly isn’t a long-term thing but can work great for the week leading up to a special occasion whereby you want to look your trimmest.

The idea is that you eat as much cabbage soup as you want for 7 days (plus a very limited selection of other foods). The amount of water weight you lose can help you drop a dress size. Just remember with this one that it’s not a good selection if you have more than a few lbs to lose.

My verdict: I hate cabbage, so I’m still wondering why I even tied this one…

Detox Diet
There’s that January buzz-word we’ve all been waiting for. A detox isn’t so much about weight loss but more about cleansing your body of those Christmas nasties. January is always a good time to give up the alcohol, drink more water, eat more vegetables and cut out stodgy foods. Essentially this is a detox, but there are more severe levels which celebs swear by.

Be careful of using detox plans as a long-term weight loss solution – not only does it not give you the right balance of nutrients, but you are also likely to pile the pounds back on as soon as you finish. And don’t be surprised if you break out in spots and feel tired – it’s all part of the cleansing process!

My verdict: I didn’t lose any weight but I certainly felt better for it. Definitely a good thing to consider after all the rich food and alcohol consumption over Christmas.

Vegetarian Diet
For those of us who love a bacon butty, this one’s a killer. But it’s also great for rewarding your body with a diet rich in nutrients, as well as losing weight. The range of vegetarian food available now is much more impressive than it was a few years ago, but it can still be tricky to have a good variety of exciting meals. So use it as a chance to unleash your creativity when it comes to experimenting and trying new things.

The result will be consuming more vitamin-rich foods like fruit and vegetables, as well as boosting your fibre intake. Eating protein sources such as tofu and nuts can help you get the best out of this diet.

My verdict: I won’t lie – I haven’t even tried it! I love meat way too much…

GI Diet
The celebs love this one! The idea behind it is that you use the Glycemic Index (GI) to select meals with a low GI. Low GI foods raise your blood sugar levels slowly over a lengthy period, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. So your body feels satisfied and it’s not solely a test of will power. The beauty of this one is that there are no foods you can’t eat…you just have to eat more low GI foods, than high GI foods. Be careful though – low GI doesn’t necessarily mean low fat!

My verdict: It seemed to work for me and well worth a go, but I did find it slightly confusing!

I don’t really follow a diet with a title, because I know after two weeks I won’t stick to it. Right now, I’m going with the old favourite of eating less, drinking more (water that is, not alcohol) and unfortunately, exercising. If like me you’re unlucky enough to live with a lazy male (or female for that matter), forget about them and do it for yourself. You don’t need a gym membership or a cross trainer in your front room – do what I do and run up and down the stars a few times, walk the dog or go for a jog around the block.

Whatever you go with, stick at it and don’t be afraid to switch if you’re not feeling the benefits.

Now to go and weigh myself…wish me luck!