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A New Year to Give One of America’s Top 10 Healthiest Diets A Try

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Although two of the most popular New Years Resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more, most people find it increasingly difficult to drop pounds as the weeks in January pass, and come March or April, the majority have given up hope on ever losing that 20 pounds. For the estimated 80 billion Americans who struggle to find a diet that fits their lifestyle, Health magazine at Health.com has generated a list of America’s Top 10 Healthiest Diets to try in the new year. After giving more than 60 popular diets a try, a panel of experts came up with 10 diets that provide not only healthy weight loss, but that are manageable, motivational, and include an exercise component. Here is their list:

  • The Structure House Weight Loss Plan (Fireside)

    This unknown diet is based off the Structure House, a North Carolina residential treatment center for obese adults. With emphasis on exercise and motivation, the plan "focuses on the ‘why’ behind overeating," states registered dietitian and panelist Maureen Callahan.

    Health’s Senior Food and Nutrition Editor Frances Largeman-Roth agrees, stating the "book takes a holistic approach to weight loss, asking you to fill your life with things other than food – outdoor activities and time with friends and family," and that the recipes "won high marks for tastiness."

  • The Step Diet Plan (Workman Publishing)

    The main emphasis on this diet is exercise. The book comes with a pedometer and focuses on the goal of walking 10,000 steps per day; a combination of exercise walking and natural walking. The panelists note that this is not a diet per se, but more of a "lifestyle regimen" that combines exercise and cutting caloric intake by 75%.

    Christine Palumbo, a nutrition expert, recommends this plan for "people who like things simple." This diet is both manageable and efficient. The panelists also noted that "the cut in calories combined with the steady increase in activity can lead to a safe, healthy rate of weight loss and a naturally active lifestyle.

  • Weight Watchers

    The well-known weight loss program earned highest marks for motivation. Weight Watchers, like the Step Diet Plan, is a lifestyle change. Dieters have many options when using Weight Watchers including opting for a more private, online version, the ability to purchase no-brainer "Weight Watcher" brand food at the grocery store, and the choice between two weight-loss approaches: the Flex Points Plan and the Core Plan. The Flex Points Plan focuses on counting calories based on a point system which helps dieters make healthy food choices. The Core Plan is for dieters who don’t want to count calories or points but steers dieters towards eating nutritious foods.

  • The EatingWell Diet (The Countryman Press)

    Although this book has not been around for very long, Author Jean Harvey-Berino, PhD, RD, focuses on behavioral changes for dieters. Concentrating on eating triggers, eating and shopping mindfully, and creating enjoyable exercise habits, the average dieter loses about 21 pounds in six months. Panelists awarded this book the highest overall rankings on calorie-intake and weight-loss-rate.

  • The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Harper Collins)

    This diet focuses on the concept that humans like to feel full. According to Author and Nutritionist Barbara Rolls, PhD, you will eat better and lose weight by focusing on the energy density of foods. With an emphasis on low density foods such as fruits, vegetables, soups and stews, the idea is to fill up without splurging on calories. Panelists awarded the diet high marks for safe weight-loss-rate and nutritional components but warned about the lack of support and exercise challenges.

  • The Best Life Diet (Simon & Schuster)

    Author Bob Greene focuses on manageable lifestyle changes in this three-phase diet plan. The phases are entered into at the dieters own pace, which lead to slimming, nutritional eating, and increased physical activity. Panelists especially liked the motivational elements and realistic goals set forth in the Best Life Diet. As a plus, there is no calorie counting but instead emphasis on "health foods in reasonable portions," says nutrition expert Maureen Callahan.

  • The Solution (Collins)

    This program focuses on the emotional and behavioral factors of overeating. Author Laurel Mellin views obesity as an expression of the interaction of mind, body, and lifestyle, and has designed The Solution to target five causes of weight problems: unbalanced eating, low energy, body shame, setting ineffective limits, and weak self-nurturing skills. This diet is designed for people of all ages, and has earned high marks from the panelists nutrition experts.

  • You: On a Diet (Free Press)

    This popular book focuses on how the body works and provides calculations, menu plans, and easy-to-understand nutrition information to dieters. The plan’s main component is to cut about 500 calories and to exercise for about 30 minutes per day. According to one panelist, the diet "teaches and motivates about weight (and waist) loss with a sense of good humor and fun.’

  • The Sonoma Diet (Meredith Brooks)

    A best-selling diet book, The Sonoma Diet uses Mediterranean foods to encourage dieters to create and enjoy healthy, delicious dishes. The diet’s primary foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and nuts. Although panelists cautioned dieters of the strict 10 day jump-start phase which eliminates sugar and highly processed foods, the subsequent phases gained high marks from the panel.

  • The Spectrum (Ballantine)

    Dr. Dean Ornish, MD originally designed diets to combat heart disease, but his newest diet, The Spectrum, is for anyone. Nutrition, exercise, stress management, and personal relationships make up the four paths to health in this program. Some panelists believe Ornish is too strict on fats, but recognize that the whole-body approach is on target with terms of health, disease prevision, and reaching a healthy weight. Perhaps most importantly, panelist Christine Palumbo noted that the plan "addresses the lifestyle diseases of the 21st century, such as diabetes, certain cancers and cardiovascular disease."