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Rating Alternative Diets for Seniors

Making the Case for Yourself for Seniors

Susan Estrich, a prominent lawyer and frequent CNN legal commentator, uses her impressive legal skills to build a case for dieting. And her arguments are compelling and motivational. She doesn't target a specific age group, only a specific gender: women.

Quick Take

  • A motivational, self-help book for women who want to lose weight and keep it off
  • Emphasizes making a contract with yourself to lose weight
  • Guidelines for how to face reality and take responsibility for what you eat

This Diet Is Best For

Women who want to be independent, motivated, and strong and just need an extra push in the right direction

Who Should Not Try This Diet

Women who feel they just can't go it alone and need the support that weekly meetings and expert counseling provide; this is a do-it-yourself dieting approach

The Premise

According to Estrich, a woman's brain is her secret dieting weapon. She urges women to think positively, to use logic when face-to-face with a 600-calorie blueberry muffin (no matter how lousy your day has been, the muffin will only make it worse, and it's probably stale anyway), and to take responsibility for their actions. Estrich, who used to be overweight herself, says that it was a profound attitude change, not a particular dieting gimmick, that allowed her to finally lose weight and keep it off.

She made a commitment to herself -- a contract, if you will -- and she didn't break it. She came up with a plan for keeping her commitment, and she constantly reminded herself about what she was doing and why she was doing it. Using her own experience, Estrich shows readers how to do the same for themselves.

The Rationale

Estrich approaches dieting as a lawyer approaches a case. It's not the specific rules of law that are most important, she says, but rather the arguments one uses that make or break a case -- or your diet. So Estrich helps you build the case for yourself so you can stick with your weight-loss efforts. She shows you how to resist whatever food is calling out to you by anticipating temptation and being ready with logical arguments against them.

Estrich maintains that following impulses and emotions, becoming stupid about our bodies, is what ultimately blows a diet. You have two choices, she says: You can decide that losing weight is important and make space for it in your life or you can decide it's not important. Once you've made up your mind to do it, she offers dieters a three-week contract to sign.

The three-week commitment is crucial because that's how long it takes to really alter your eating behavior. To start you off, Estrich then provides four diets (although they're pretty loose as diets go) for you to follow during those first three weeks.

Eating on the Making the Case for Yourself Diet

Estrich's four-phase miracle diet is actually a blend of some popular diet plans. The purpose of following the diet for three weeks is to take advantage of your early enthusiasm for dieting, to provide you with early weight-loss success, and to show you that you have power over food. She starts with a modified cabbage soup diet for the first three days, then provides different basic meal plans for various periods of time.

Estrich doesn't provide specific quantities of food but does tell you what kinds of food to eat, concentrating on vegetables, fruit, and lean protein. A few recipes are included at the back of the book. Along with general guidelines, Estrich offers a steady diet of no-nonsense motivation. She knows what your weakness will be and where diets fail, and she prepares you to deal with those. And she provides a list of foods you can eat that contain 100 calories.

What the Experts Say

Estrich's book hasn't received as much attention as the more outrageous diets. But it's worth serious consideration. However, at least one weight-loss expert says that while it may be just right for some women, it may not be enough for others.

"While she offers very good strategies for anyone who wants to alter their current eating habits, there may be people who find they need help from someone else in order to help make that happen," says Cindy Moore, M.S., R.D. director of nutrition therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. "However, it might very well act as a supplement to more specific nutrition guidance."

There really are no risks involved in trying Estrich's approach since there is no diet plan or even specific meal planning guidelines to use. Be prepared for a lot of comparisons to the law, court cases, and legal arguments. If that's not your cup of tea, then her arguments against being overweight and for dieting may leave you cold.

On the other hand, they can give you a new way to think about dieting, one that may provide the impetus you've needed. If you follow her general diet guidelines, however, you could easily fall short of calcium and vitamin D, essential fatty acids, fiber, and some B vitamins. All of this is bad for your bones, your heart, and your bowels (constipation).

You might be better off reading her book for motivation but following a diet plan that provides more of the nutrients you need. If you follow Estrich's diet guidelines, be sure to take a multivitamin plus a calcium supplement.

Calorie quota: Because there is no diet plan or food exchange lists, there is no calorie limit.

Yes: Determination, logic, and commitment

No: Fad diets, placing blame, excuses

Other similar diets: Because this is not really a diet plan but an inspirational book about women and weight loss, there is no other weight-loss diet quite like it.

In the next section find out how The Metabolic Typing Diet for Seniors works.

To learn more about senior health, see: