Experts weigh in on the best diets

LOS ANGELES "I left everything I had ever heard at the front door and said, 'OK, give me what you got, and we'll see what I do with it,'" said Kellie Taylor, who is tired of dieting.

A team of doctors and dietitians scrutinized 60 popular programs, choosing 10 with proven success. One diet, called the "/*Secret of the South*/," is a book based on a North Carolina weight-loss center. Experts say /*The Structure House*/ is the gold-medal winner.

"The fact of the matter is that this is a many-legged problem and in order for us to get to the core of the problem - the heart of the problem - we have to peel back the layers," said Gerard Musante, Structure House.

Beyond food and fitness, the Structure House program attacks the psychological aspect of eating.

"We ask people to write a letter to themselves that says, 'Dear Me, this is why I can't continue to live this way any longer,'" said Musante.

That exercise hit home for Kellie, who has lost 83 pounds, and counting.

"I've been that yo-yo dieter. I've done this a million times. And I knew I needed to change my psyche to just keep the weight off; otherwise I'd just keep eating for the same reasons," said Kellie.

/*The Step Diet*/ came in second due to an easy-to-follow, common sense food plan. It comes complete with a pedometer program to get you taking the 10,000 steps recommended by experts.

The classic /*Weight Watchers*/ came in third. The program has food fundamentals and easy-to-follow point system. Plus, the experts cited motivational meetings and keeping up with sound science as keys to the diet's success.

The /*EatingWell Diet*/ ranked fourth. It also has a strong focus behavioral component. It also has an easy mix-and-match menu to please most palates.

While we eat for many reasons, feeling full is a key to controlling our hunger, which is the principle behind the fifth-ranked diet: /*The Volumetrics Eating Plan*/. Choosing low density fluid-filled food like fruits and vegetables, in addition to fibrous foods, will fill you up for fewer calories.

"I think people need to go into it realizing that it's hard work," said Bob Greene, "/*The Best Life Diet*/."

Greene - who is also known as /*Oprah*/'s health guru - knows it takes more than a solid meal plan and exercise. He says it is vital to get a grip on emotional eating and misusing food.

"If we can't change those - and change the way you view yourself - and understand more about yourself, why you misuse food ... you are going to have a tough time being successful in the long run," said Greene.

Finishing out the top 10 is "/*The Solution*/"; "/*You: On a Diet*/"; "/*The Sonoma Diet*/"; and "/*The Spectrum*/." Each diet has its own special twist on that age old adage: eat less, move more.

All of the diets were featured in the January issue of /*Health Magazine*/



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