City Pulse

By Kelley Hoffman

When your regular distractions shut down for the holidays, maybe you realized that a daily diet of three sugar-free RedBull and an Au Bon Pain salad is what’s killing you, not your boss. Perhaps you noticed that your stops at Two Boots pizza has grown from an indulgence to borderline addiction. With New Years health resolutions in abundance, and with promises of convenience and privacy, I braved my way through search engines and pop-up ads to get the scoop on the world of online dieting.

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First I stopped at eDiets (www.eDiets.com), whose slogan is a Burger King-esque “Your Diet, Your Way.” I was greeted by a smiling photo of Suzanne Somers, the brains behind the newest of the 23 diets offered. If you don’t think you can trust the weight-loss promises of a Thigh Master-ing MILF, you can take a test to determine which diet is best suited for you. May I suggest the New Mediterranean diet, a plan that focuses on fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and wine (yay, wine!). Think of it as an easy transition if you’re prone to too many martinis and late night falafels.

When you first visit the site, you’re asked to create a profile that will pinpoint your BMI (Body Mass Index). This will help you determine an ideal weight for your age and height. From then on, eDiets will help you plan your meals everyday with suggestions and recipes. The nutritional and caloric intake will be monitored, and your weight progress will be charted as you choose to update. An online support community is offered with advice from peers and nutritionists. This will cost you $3.99 per week, and is roughly the standard model for the services offered on most online dieting sites.

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Next I checked out the Self Diet Club (www.SelfDietClub.com). The Babysitters’ Club of the diet world, its good-natured and girly tone is aimed at the inner fuchsia tank top and white pants-wearing gal lost deep inside our sophisticated black-clad fat asses. It has the same offerings as eDiets but with more colorful graphics and an extra smart feature that tracks how many more calories in a day you can still eat or have to burn to stay on your plan. The site is free but available only to Self subscribers; a year subscription to the mag will only set you back $12…and you will receive the publication and all it’s goodness.

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Perhaps the most controversial diet is the Maker’s Diet (www.MakersDiet.com). This faith-based diet takes you way beyond the wafer-and-wine combo found in churches the world over. The rap is you’re supposed to eat the way He intended, that is, without the sinful innovations of man — frozen dinners, preservatives, pesticides, etc. The Almighty’s got a point.

The site tests the relationship between science and religion, needling agnostic nutritionists with its holy mantle. The diet differs from most in that it follows a 40-day plan (hey, it worked for J.C.) and spiritual guidance replaces BMI calculations. Even if you’re not among the faithful, you may be attracted by some of the biblical foodstuffs. As far as I’m concerned, milk, honey, water, and wine should be a part of every diet. The price is $4.99 a week.

Getting healthy ain’t easy — don’t kid yourself. Who knows if chat rooms, pretty charts, or faith in the divine is going to help. While you could easily dismiss online dieting as a cop-out, you’d be missing out on the motivational factor. Often the first thing we lose when we diet is our sense of humor. The light-hearted, can-do approach of these sites is just the boost we need to reach our goals.

There are backups, of course. Note to self: Netflix Buns of Steel.

Originally published January 2007
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