I wrote last week about The Mayo Clinic Diet (which appeared yesterday in the top spot of the New York Times' hardcover advice bestseller list) and how it includes a two-week introductory period that promises 6 to 10 pounds of weight loss. Obviously, that comes from taking in fewer calories (and dropping some water weight). But instead of counting those calories, the book asks people to add five habits (including eating a healthful but not-too-large breakfast and consuming "good" fats such as olive oil), subtract five habits (such as watching TV while eating and snacking on anything other than fruit and veggies), and, if you can, add five bonus habits (including keeping a food diary and eating only whole or lightly processed foods).
When I asked Donald Hensrud, the book's medical editor-in-chief (and chair of the division of preventive, occupational, and aerospace medicine at Mayo Clinic) why people should adopt habits they probably couldn't make a permanent part of their lifestyle, he said they were intended as a stretch—to show people what they could do and motivate them to go forward. As he said:
Will people continue to [follow all the rules] long term? No—but perhaps more so than if they just eased into a plan. Many people say, 'I didn't realize I was capable of making these changes.' So for the two weeks they'll have no snacks except for vegetables and fruits, and then they're much more aware [of their snack habits].
My boyfriend and I are both trying to set some better eating habits; both of us tend to eat when under stress, plus we're surrounded by food all day, I at my home office and he at work, where he faces a huge variety of free snacks. We actually follow many of the good habits already, and since neither of us is attempting to lose more than a few pounds, we're not too keen on giving up some of the bad ones. Still, we were inspired to set out three things that we pledge to do for the next two weeks, even though they might be tough to keep up forever. Mine:
- No sweets until after dinner (that means you, Trader Joe's Maple Leaf Cookies).
- My lunch has to include both vegetables and protein.
- Confine my almond and other nut butter consumption to breakfast only.
- Avoid the free snacks at work, except for fruits and veggies.
- No bread products after lunch.
- Boost fruit and veggie consumption throughout the day.
We'll see how it goes. What are a few (healthful) changes you could make to your eating or exercise plans for a few weeks?