Eight Step Diet Plan Approved by the Mayo Clinic

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Family Fitness
With so many diet plans all claiming to turn you into a new woman in a matter of days how are we going to separate the chaff from the wheat? Most diets will help you lose weight but the real question is at what cost. By cost I do not mean the expense of the diet plan, although many diets can be quite expensive, but I am referring to the cost to your health. Losing weight in an unhealthy way may result in more health problems than before you began the diet. So it is vitally important to choose a diet plan with a proven record of being healthy for you.

Eight Step Diet Plan Approved by the Mayo Clinic
One of the best diets, researched and approved by the Mayo Clinic, is the eight step diet plan that is very heart healthy. We all know changing your eating habits can be frustrating and difficult to say the least, but if you are truly concerned about your health and losing weight this is a decision a woman needs to make and stick to it.

Decrease unhealthy fats and cholesterol
The first step the Mayo Clinic recommends for a heart healthy diet is to cut out the unhealthy types of fat. Limit your consumption of fats by reducing or eliminating the use of butter, margarines, and shortenings in the meals you prepare. Also trim off any excess fat from meats such as beef and pork. What we are trying to reduce are the trans-fats that contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in your heart and arteries. Saturated fat needs to be no more than 7% of your daily caloric intake for a healthy heart. A few of the good fat sources include canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, and certain nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds.

Eat From Only Low-Fat Protein Sources
The second step the Mayo Clinic recommends is to eat low-fat sources of protein. Among the best of the low-fat sources are fish and poultry. When cooking fish or poultry it is not going to benefit you if you deep fry them because all you are doing them is adding to the overall intake of daily fat. Cook your fish or poultry by broiling. This may take some getting used to if you're used to eating fried meats but once you experience how good broiled fish and chicken taste you will soon be craving it. Probably the best source of low cholesterol proteins foods you can eat are beans or legumes and lentils. These simple foods can be cooked in so many different ways, incorporating them into a heart healthy diet is not hard at all. Foods to avoid include whole milk, egg yolks, spareribs, deadly cold cuts, sausage, and of course bacon. Other good sources of protein will include skim milk, low-fat or no fat yogurt and cheeses.

Include More Vegetables and Fruits in Your Diet
Third step on our list of heart healthy foods to eat are the vegetables and fruits. Prepare vegetables by steaming them for the full benefit of their nutritional value. Boiling them in water is also okay as long as they are not boiled to the point they become mush and lose their nutritional benefits. A good example of a fruit to avoid would be canned peaches covered in thick sugary syrup. Instead eat apples, oranges, pears, peaches, etc. in their natural unprocessed form to receive the full heart healthy value. As for the vegetable group, try to eat these in the raw form as often as possible. Cooking them only reduces the full nutritional vitamin and mineral content.

Eat More Whole Grains
Now we come to the food group that is the downfall of so many individuals who tried diets to lose weight, the bread group. If you are serious about losing weight and becoming more active with a healthy heart this is the one group of foods you really need to pay attention to. No more of those delicious pies, doughnuts, white breads, cakes, muffins, cornbread, potato chips, or buttered popcorn to name a few. Its okay to eat the breads made from whole grains, brown rice, natural cereals, whole grain pasta, and oatmeal. Changing your eating habits in this one area alone will greatly contribute to better overall health, loss of weight, and a healthier heart.

Decrease the Amount of Sodium in your Food
Now let's look at the amount of sodium or salt we are consuming. Some people did not take the time to look at the amount of sodium contained in the food products they purchase. Learn to do this and select low sodium foods as much as possible. If you're like me I enjoy a bit of salt on my food so I use sea salt. This is a much healthier salt than the highly processed table salts commonly used.

Control the Amount of Food You Eat, Decrease the Portion Size
Here is another biggie-the amount or portion size of the foods you are eating. Reducing the portions of food you consume is not all that difficult, and over time will find you do not have that overly stuffed feeling we all get when we eat entirely too much food at one meal. There is an old saying about this very common problem-" get up from the dinner table while you still feel slightly hungry." I've tried this and believe me when I say it really does work.

Plan What You Want to Eat Ahead of Time: Create a Daily Menu
The seventh tip the Mayo Clinic recommends for heart healthy diets is to take the time to plan out your meals. In today's busy world many people are overweight because they do not place enough importance on spending a few minutes every weekend planning a good healthy menu for the coming week. Learn to spend a few minutes each week in doing this and you will not only reduce your weight but also the stress in your life.

Allow Yourself to Cheat and Have an Occasional Treat
The last tip is one we are all going to enjoy when it comes to diets. Allow yourself the occasional tasty treat as a reward for sticking to your dieting plan. Heart healthy weight loss diets do require a change in your eating habits but these changes will result in a new healthier you!