Determine A Diet’s Effectiveness With The DIET Checklist

Every year, publishers rank the most popular diets for weight loss. In most cases, this is mental masturbation, because it leaves out the most important success factor of all: adherence. Avoid cookie-cutter recommendations and consider the Diet Index Enjoyability Total — or DIET.

Picture: Filter Collective/Flickr

The Diet Index Enjoyability Total (DIET) score is a hypothetical number created by Dr Yoni Freedhoff, the founder of Weighty Matters, who also runs one of the largest obesity clinics in Canada. Dr Freedhoff noticed that the enjoyment factor of a diet is one of the most important factors when determining success. As he puts it:

If you don’t like the life you’re living while you’re losing weight you’re almost certainly going to gain it back. More simply put: weight lost through suffering will likely be regained.

This claim has some pretty solid backing. A recent meta-analysis (a study of studies) from The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that diet adherence — over other factors such as low carbohydrates, high carbohydrates, and so on — was the main factor in determining diet efficacy.

Indeed, it seems that all diets do work; the hard part is finding one you can stick to. In order to determine a diet’s overall sustainability, go through Dr Freedhoff’s checklist below and assign an enjoyability score of 1-10 before you decide to try the diet:

  • Hunger
  • Cravings
  • Feelings of fullness/satisfaction
  • Need to cook special meals for other family members
  • Ability to still eat out with friends and family
  • Energy levels and feelings of general well-being
  • Complexity of dietary requirements
  • Dietary flexibility vs. monotony
  • Rigidity of dietary requirements (ie forbidden foods/food groups and impact on quality of life)
  • Expense/cost of dietary requirements (ie expensive foods, supplements, etc.)

No diet is perfect, and there are tensions and tradeoffs between bullet points. For example, one diet may be super-flexible, but the abundance of choice increases complexity. Regardless, the checklist is useful for finding out what diet ultimately works for you in the long run. The next time you decide to change your diet, consider this checklist to see if it’s sustainable.

The Diet Score — What Every Weight Loss Study Needs [Weighty Matters]

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