Some diets declare you can lose weight if you eat cabbage soup. Others promise you can cure any illness by eating the right foods. When combined with exercise three to five times a week, healthy low-calorie diets allow you to lose weight gradually. The U.S. government and the Mayo Clinic have recommendations for healthy diets on their websites.
Eat several servings of fresh vegetables every day. Along with being low-calorie foods, they are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Cook them by steaming, microwaving or grilling. Do not add high-fat dressings, spreads such as butter or margarine or cheese. Eat them in salads, fresh soups or cooked plain with a low-salt substitute or herbs.
Choose low-calorie fresh fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth, instead of candy, cakes, pies, cookies or doughnuts. Blend them with no-fat, unflavored yogurt for a fresh smoothie. Mix them together to make a fruit salad that you can eat at home or carry to work. Grapefruit helps burn calories. Fruits contain many antioxidant vitamins, which help prevent osteoporosis and other illnesses.
Fish & Poultry
Eat fish and poultry instead of beef, pork, lamb, veal and processed meats such as lunch meats, bacon and sausage. Choose salmon, mackerel, canned or fresh albacore tuna, herring and other dark fish to help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Chicken and turkey are low in calories, if you remove the skin and eat small portions. Bake, broil, microwave or grill the fish and poultry to avoid the high fat in fried foods.
Milk, Eggs & Oils
Buy non-fat milk and milk products such as cottage cheese, frozen yogurt and margarine with no trans or saturated fat. Avoid butter at all costs---it is high in calories and fat. Use egg substitutes for breakfast and baking---they contain no cholesterol. Avoid cooking with solid oils such as lard or shortening. Use vegetable oils such as canola, safflower or olive for salad dressings and cooking.
Choose healthy snacks such as unsalted sunflower seeds, a few whole-wheat crackers or a banana spread with peanut butter, an apple or orange, a few pretzels or olives, tuna jerky, vegetable chips, popcorn without butter or salt (use a salt substitute), and some carrot or celery sticks dipped in no-fat ranch dressing. Eat a banana and a few almonds to help increase your energy.
Always remember to check with your family physician before starting any diet, and follow the recommendations she gives you, especially concerning any medications you need to take while dieting. For instance, grapefruit interferes with the body's ability to use prescription cholesterol medication.