New Year, New Diets

NEW YORK — Eat all day. Use smaller plates. Drink lemon juice.

Those are just some of the strategies in the newest crop of diet books hitting the shelves that focus less on meal plans than on eating psychology and strategy.

Check out the some of the new plans below and get some perspective from Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietititan and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

"I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People" by Paul McKenna (Sterling Publishing)

The plan: Through the use of psychological techniques, McKenna, a hypnotherapist, reprograms the way people think and act around food so they can conquer emotional eating, eat less and not feel deprived. The book comes with a hypnosis CD.

Some perspective: Changing the way people think about food is important, says Blatner. But people still need to know what to eat, how much to eat, and what to do for exercise. The verdict is still out on the effectiveness of hypnosis for long-term weight loss.

"The 4 Day Diet" by Ian K. Smith, M.D. (St. Martin's Press)

The plan: Don't get too excited. The diet is longer than four days. But Smith, founder of The 50 Million Pound Challenge, has broken his program into seven, 4 day modules. The book has a list of foods to eat each day and more than 60 recipes.

Some perspective: Four days per module means dieters won't get bored, says Blatner. But the book only gives a list of foods — not meals. "Most people know what to eat but need help putting together quick and easy meals."

"Joy's Life Diet: Four Steps to Thin Forever" by Joy Bauer (Collins Living)

The plan: L.I.F.E., as in Look Incredible, Feel Extraordinary. Bauer, diet expert for the "Today" show, presents four steps to help people shed pounds, including stripping away negative eating habits and reprogramming your appetite. The book includes daily menus and makeovers for family favorites.

Some perspective: A very well-rounded diet book, says Blatner. But a seasoned dieter won't find any new information in it, she said.

"Snack Yourself Slim" by Richard J. Warburg and Tessa Lorant (The Thorn Press)

The plan: Constant snacking. In this "non-diet" book, Warburg, an attorney who lost 18 pounds eating this way, and Lorant, an author, introduce the EATALL plan: eating a small portion of whatever you want (1/17 of what you would normally eat in a day) at least every hour.

Some perspective: Eating often is a good idea, says Blatner. But eating at least once an hour is inconvenient for most people, she said. Research shows successful dieters eat three meals and one or two snacks a day, she said.

"The 9-Inch 'Diet': Exposing the Big Conspiracy in America" by Alex Bogusky with Chuck Porter (powerHouse Books)

The plan: Use a smaller plate. Switching to a 9-inch dinner plate can decrease caloric intake 30 to 35 percent, according to the authors. But there's more to this than smaller plates. The book attacks the "root problem behind America's oversized behind: portion distortion."

Some perspective: "We do know that you eat less from smaller plates," says Blatner. But a good diet includes healthier food in addition to watching portions, she said.

"Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide" by David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding (Rodale Books)

The plan: The third in the "Eat This, Not That!" series. The book presents hundreds of food swaps you can make at the grocery store to cut calories and lose weight, from cereals to rice to ice cream. Readers learn how to pick produce, decode meat labels and decide when organic is worth the extra cost.

Some perspective: A great all-you-need-to-know-to-grocery-shop-healthier book, says Blatner.

"The All-New Atkins Advantage" by Stuart L. Trager, M.D. with Colette Heimowitz (St. Martin's Griffin)

The plan: Low-carb with exercise. Part I introduces the basics of the program. Part II features the 12-week Atkins Advantage Program, with physical and mental exercises for each week, and Part III includes 12 weeks' worth of meal plans.

Some perspective: Blatner is suspicious of any diet that allows bacon but not an apple, a debate that still rages in the weight-loss community. The exercise component is good, Blatner says.

"The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The 5-Stage Program for Permanent Weight Loss" by Judith S. Beck (Oxmoor House)

The plan: Beck, a cognitive therapist, presents an eating plan to go with the cognitive techniques she featured in "The Beck Diet Solution." The book teachers dieters what to eat to feel full on fewer calories and includes tips for incorporating favorite foods every day and overcoming challenges, such as cravings and a lack of motivation.

Some perspective: The best of all the psychological dieting books, said Blatner. "If you are looking for how to handle trip-up barriers that tend to happen to dieters, this is a great book."

"Your Big Fat Boyfriend: How To Stay Thin When Dating A Diet Disaster" by Jenna Bergen (Quirk Books)

The plan: With studies showing that a woman in a relationship gains weight, Bergen provides tips on how to avoid the extra pounds a boyfriend can bring. The book offers strategies for grocery shopping and cooking with your sweetie, along with active date ideas like salsa dancing.

Some perspective: Research shows obesity may be socially contagious, says Blatner. So the book may be helpful to people who are influenced by food pushers or tempting treats. The downside is the book has no specific meal plans, she said.

"Women's Health The Daily Fix: Your Guide to Healthy Habits for Good Nutrition" by Alexa Fishback (Rodale Books)

The plan: A guide for the on-the-go woman. Fishback offers simple methods to help women stick to eating and exercise habits. Tips range from scheduling workouts in an electronic organizer to discreetly removing the cheese on a sandwich in a luncheon.

Some perspective: The book is probably good for the working woman who needs help with dieting pitfalls, says Blatner. But a seasoned dieter will know most of the habits, she said. The book also has no specific meal plans.

"Flat Belly Diet!" by Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief, Prevention, with Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD (Rodale Books)

The plan: Eat four meals a day, each featuring one of the five MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids): oils, olives, nuts, seeds, avocados and dark chocolate. MUFAs are essential to losing belly fat, according to the authors. The book includes a Four-Day Antibloat Jumpstart and a four-week eating plan.

Some perspective: "It's very unlikely that a diet or exercise can spot treat," says Blatner. "But it is very likely that someone following this plan can lose weight and eat a healthier diet."

"The Lemon Juice Diet" by Theresa Cheung (St. Martin's Griffin)

The plan: Cheung claims lemon juice is a magic ingredient that stimulates the metabolism, lowers blood sugar, and helps maintain a feeling of fullness. Her book includes a 24-hour mini detox, similar to the "Master Cleanse" diet, in addition to menus that incorporate lemon peel or lemon juice.

Some perspective: There is no one miracle food, says Blatner. "This diet can cause weight loss because the meal plans are calorie-controlled and balanced — not because they contain lemon."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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