Some dieters want to drop a few pounds to look better in a bathing suit. Others are trying to undo years of bad eating and exercise habits and are in need of education. Still others seek weight loss on a doctor’s orders to avoid serious illness, such as heart disease or diabetes.
All of these people may find things to like about “The Mayo Clinic Diet,” a new book from the respected medical institution. But those in the last two groups could find its program –- the first diet developed by Mayo Clinic -- especially helpful.
There are no claims to magic fat-burning ingredients in this book, no nutritional supplements to buy. “The Mayo Clinic Diet” offers sound, health-focused information on how to eat better, move more and change ingrained habits that contribute to overweight and obesity.
The book leads off with "Lose It," a quick-start plan to help dieters drop 6 to 10 pounds in two weeks. In this phase they add five habits (such as eating a healthy breakfast), break five habits (eating in front of the TV) and adopt five bonus habits (keeping food and activity records). The second phase, "Live It," is a lifetime plan designed for weight loss of a pound or 2 a week until the desired weight is reached and can be maintained.
The book offers the usual good dieting and exercise advice, but it goes further.
Mayo Clinic proposes its own healthy weight pyramid, making fruits and vegetables the foundation and putting exercise at the center. (Studies show that people who lose more than 30 pounds and keep it off for five years exercise an hour each day, mostly by walking, according to the book.)
One chapter gives strategies for getting through weight-loss plateaus and relapses. Another is devoted to sticking to the diet when eating out and includes suggestions on how to eat at ethnic restaurants (avoid the fatty spareribs at Chinese restaurants; go for the hot and sour soup). A photo spread on portion control shows common foods eaten at breakfast, with pictures illustrating typical serving sizes compared with Mayo Clinic-suggested servings (8 ounces of orange juice versus 4).
There's an illustrated guide to reading nutrition labels and a checklist of warning signs for when to stop exercising (pain in an arm or the jaw, an irregular heartbeat). An endocrinology specialist, one of several Mayo Clinic professionals who contribute essays to the book, explains in easy-to-understand language some of the science behind nutrition and weight control.
"The Mayo Clinic Diet" is written in a conversational, no-nonsense tone. It's colorful and graphically pleasing with lots of photos, sidebars and tips in bite-size chunks. Also available is "The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal," to use for tracking goals and progress.
-- Anne Colby
Photo: “The Mayo Clinic Diet,” Mayo Clinic, Good Books, $25.99 hardcover. Not pictured: “The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal," Mayo Clinic, Good Books, $14.99 plastic comb binding.