What Is the Mayo Clinic Diet?

If you have read a single one of our diet blogs, you know a truth about our team: we’re not huge fans of diets. If you’re on a diet set by your doctor, that’s fine. Sometimes medical concerns require special diets. But, often, popular diets making the rounds have odd rules, are constrictive, hard to maintain, cut out food groups, lack nutrients or can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Overall, if a diet is a fad, we say avoid it.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some diets aren’t diets so much as lifestyles. For instance, the Mediterranean diet isn’t a strict set of what you can and can’t eat — it can be tailored to any culture. Nothing is really off-limits. And it teaches you a new approach to eating rather than restricting you. In cases like that, we don’t have a kneejerk reaction of saying “nope.” It’s when a diet starts saying you can’t eat certain foods, gives exact amounts or makes extreme claims that we grow concerned.  

One of the most popular diets this year based on results was the Mayo Clinic Diet. That might give you pause. After all, the Mayo Clinic is a highly respected medical institution. When they are backing something, we pay attention. The diet wants you to make healthy eating a habit, which we like. And it incorporates a half-hour of activity a day, which we think is excellent. It has its own version of the food pyramid with fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein and healthy fats. So far, so good.

People do see results on it comparable to following Jenny Craig, without the price tag and restrictions of Jenny Craig. Unlike Jenny Craig, the Mayo Clinic Diet promotes home cooking and allows people to dine out more easily.

Part of its success stems from the fact that it’s not just about what you eat; it’s about your food habits. One of the hard and fast rules of this diet is simple: don’t snack while watching TV. Unlike many diet rules, this one actually makes sense. Snacking while watching TV can lead to eating a ton of calories without even noticing. You’re also supposed to cut out most snacks, limit your sugar, meat, dairy. There isn’t a precise calorie count in this diet, but it does follow a set roadmap. In the first step, you spend two weeks examining your life. You break five unhealthy habits, and you pick up five healthy habits instead. You also don’t eat at restaurants. The second step is to learn more about food choices, portion control, meal planning and stick to your new habits.

There is a book to learn the diet. Having not read the book, we have questions about the healthy habits. Everything we’ve read says it’s about healthy lifestyle changes. But we can’t find if it’s specific habits they suggest or personal ones you decide. If it’s not just about food, what are the habits? Are we supposed to start washing the dishes right after we eat? Is it about sleep patterns? Returning phone calls sooner? Is breaking five habits meant to help us lose weight or just help us learn to be healthier in our lives?

As always, we recommend speaking to your doctor before making any changes to your healthy routine. As this isn’t a radical diet, we don’t see any reason you shouldn’t try it if you are interested in doing so.

Banner image: Solen Feyissa via Unsplash

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