While I prefer to think of the word "diet" as a lifestyle that promotes healthy eating over a lifetime, most people probably view "diet" as a way to lose weight. And some of us seriously need to lose weight to improve our health! Most diets don't lead to long term weight loss but encourage a pattern of losing and gaining weight over time. If you are serious about taking control of your health, it's best to consult a physician or dietitian for help. The best diet plans help you lose weight and learn to eat a healthy diet for the rest of your life.
One plan that I have experience with is the South Beach Diet. I attended a talk given by Dr. Agatston, creator of the South Beach Diet. He is a cardiologist by profession and his diet plan was designed to help his patients. Even though I don't need to lose weight, I decided to try his plan for two weeks as an experiment because I have a serious addiction to carbs. I'm the person who thinks mashed potatoes and gravy make a fine dessert, never met a bread I didn't like and who regularly eats cereal after dinner. My carb cravings were getting out of control.
Here are my conclusions after trying South Beach. The diet did help me reduce my carb cravings. Eating too much of the wrong carbs like I did can easily lead to weight gain, especially in the abdomen. The diet is not difficult to follow and the book has helpful recipes and menu suggestions. The book does give a plan for eating for the rest of your life, not just the weight loss phase. It also explains the relationship between diabetes and heart disease and the importance of exercise.
The downside is that people who don't like to cook will be frustrated right away. There are several South Beach foods on the market but these are not designed to be your whole diet. It also requires a great deal of self control and motivation. Overall, I think it is a good plan and would be helpful if done with a friend or spouse for support. It helps you get back on track if you give up on your diet or can help with cravings like mine. I still incorporate the breakfast and lunch ideas to keep my carb addiction at bay.
The next time you are in a bookstore, check out Dr. Agatston's books. This plan may work for you.