Who is an "Extreme Dieter," and What is an "Extreme Diet"?


The subtitle for this blog is "Food for Thought for Recovering Extreme Dieters."

So just what is an "extreme dieter"?

Answer: a dieter who will take extreme measures to lose weight, such as embracing fad diets, some of which are downright dangerous: sustained fasting, intentional vomiting, eating only certain foods, drinking only liquids (such as fruit juice or milkshakes), popping diet pills, etc.

One of the most creative extreme diets: getting one's jaw wired shut so that one can't eat solid food.

Yes, this practice was popular in the late 1970's. No, I never tried this one. Even back then, this one sounded too way out there.

These extreme diets have one major characteristic in common: they are all temporary fixes, and, therefore, do little or nothing to help the dieter change his or her eating habits permanently.

Any diet program that asks its participants to exclude (for extended periods of time) entire categories of food for the sole purpose of losing weight is, in my opinion, an extreme diet.

I have been on many extreme diets:
--The fasting diet (three days was my limit, especially after I passed out in school)

--The liquid-only diet (fruit juices and bouillon)

--The unlimited-lettuce-sprinkled-with-sugar diet

--The strict-diet-with-a-side-of-diet-pills diet (unknown amphetamines during my childhood; phentermine and Meridia in, ahem, adulthood)

--The milkshake diet (Optifast)

--No carb or very low carb (Because of insulin resistance, I still do monitor my simple carbs somewhat, but I don't exclude them).

--The one-meal-a-day diet

--The 500-calorie-a-day diet

--The you-must-buy-your-food-from-us diet (Nutrisystem)

--The Golden Hour diet (For one hour each day, you eat whatever what you want, but then eat limited amounts of extreme diet foods the rest of the time)
I missed the memo on the following extreme diets:
--The cookie diet

--The milkshake diet (Medifast)

--The vinegar diet

--Fen-phen diet pills (now banned, "heart attack in a pill") and Alli, the "leaky" pill (e-yew!)

--The you-must-buy-your-food-from-us diet (Jenny Craig)

--The grapefruit diet

--The Rotation diet

--The 17-day diet (endorsed by Dr. Phil), which sounds like a variation on the Rotation diet
Most extreme diets were not meant for long-term use by obese people. Most were designed for normal-weight people who want to shed 5-10 holiday pounds.

The high-protein milkshake diets may be useful for the extremely obese (who may be in a life or death situation), but only under strict medical supervision.

While I personally endorse the Weight Watchers Program, there are other good programs that emphasize good food and healthy choices:
--A personalized plan that you and your doctor have developed for your needs (He or she may even send you off to Weight Watchers).

--T.O.P.S. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) and Overeaters Anonymous. These are mainly support groups that encourage you to find a plan that works for you.

--The old standby of 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 for men--as long as the diet does not exclude foods.
Food addiction can be difficult to control simply because we all must eat--unlike kicking the smoking habit, there is no going cold turkey.

Moreover, we seem to be hardwired to crave sweets and salty crunchy snacks.

Why not enjoy, within reason, these foods in our everyday diets?

We can still lose weight--and keep it off--if we don't deprive ourselves of yummy foods.

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