Turning the calendar to a new year often finds people working on their commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to losing weight, experts advise taking a longer view, beyond a New Year's resolution.
"Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is best accomplished through a lifestyle approach," says Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and medical editor-in-chief of the Mayo Clinic Diet. "You should follow a dietary pattern that is practical. If it's too restrictive, it's impossible to sustain."
Today, the Mayo Clinic Diet was named No. 1 in the Commercial Diet category by U.S. News & World Report. The Mayo Clinic Diet offers a weight-loss and lifestyle program that's based on research and clinical experience. Learn more about the diet in The Mayo Clinic Diet book. An online program also gives access to meal plans, recipes, interactive tools like an iOS app for Apple operating systems, and fitness plans and exercises.
The two-phase program offers a two-week jump-start to weight loss and a lifelong approach to diet and health. The dietary plan is built around health-supporting vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats, such as nuts and olive oil. There's no calorie counting. Instead, the diet focuses on generous amounts of vegetables and fruits, and healthy choices in other food groups. No foods are excluded. Portions of higher-calorie foods are limited. Physical activity of at least 30 minutes most days also is emphasized to highlight overall health — not just weight.
People with health conditions are encouraged to talk with their doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan.
"When you make even small changes in your diet and exercise habits, you decrease your health risks from many conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea," Dr. Hensrud says. "That's a gift to you and your family all year-round."