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Updated: January 1, 2010 18:17 IST

Sanity before the resolution

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Food for thought: There is no quick-fix formula for losing weight, stick to reality

A promise to oneself to lose weight is one of the most common New Year resolutions, and there are dozens of diet plans to cater to the overweight.

Some, such as the DASH Diet, are ideal for everyone regardless of weight while others, like the Atkins New Diet, are more hype than science and can be harmful. The following few lines might save your money and health.

Trust the advice of medical authorities and not the gushing testimonials of stars. High-protein low-carb diets such as the Atkins Diet get a bad rep from health professionals and medical guidelines-issuing bodies because they can harm the blood vessels and kidneys.

This should carry more weight than the claim that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie owe their looks to Atkins. On the other hand, the Mayo Clinic Diet, DASH Diet and Dr. Ornish's Diet are tried and tested and have the backing of the medical establishment. If you want a sensible plan, try a dash of DASH.

Don't fall for cheap marketing tricks. When you see a Before picture of someone who looks like a beached whale metamorphosing into the svelteness of Asin in the After shot (and all within a few weeks), think Adobe Photoshop. Virtually anything can be faked these days: photos, personal testimonials and even research. Instead of putting your faith in marketing claims, listen to what health bodies such as the American Heart Association are saying about nutrition

Beware of Eat All You Want and starvation diets. Neither work. A weight loss diet is a balanced diet. It may include smaller portions, but there is no getting around the balanced part.

Avoid pills, potions and health drinks. Medication for promoting weight loss is a last resort: beware of those who make it a first option. Most people do not need drugs.

Do not pay to lose weight. There is no big mystery to weight loss: just eat a healthful balanced diet in reasonable portions and do some exercise daily. You do not need to get into a programme or take a subscription or buy a book or a DVD to know this secret.

Accept that weight loss takes time. Any plan that promises rapid weight loss is a starvation plan or a dehydration plan or witchcraft. Unless you put on the weight during a magic spell, you should not expect miracles on the way down.

(The writer is a specialist in Internal Medicine)

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