Here is Dr. Platkin's quick guide to starting the Diet Detective's All American Diet:

  1. Make A Solid Commitment To Stick To The Plan. Mark the date you’ll begin on your calendar (and don’t make it a month from now).
  2. Start with your 21-Day Jump-Start Program. Women should use the 1,200-calorie Build-a-Meal plan, and men should stick to the 1,600-calorie Build-a-Meal plan. Abiding by these plans should result in the reasonable weight loss that will help give you the confidence and motivation you need to continue. After this “initiation” period, you’ll move on and figure out your daily calorie needs.
  3. Go To The Supermarket. Choose and experiment. All you have to do is get off the couch and take an extra half-hour or so to check out the frozen food, soup, cereal and other packaged food sections. Your research will pay off in the end, and that half-hour will translate into time, calories and money saved. It's more than worth the effort. Many times, frozen foods and other supermarket packaged foods are also cheaper than the prepackaged foods offered by commercial programs such as Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem (plus, they're available at any grocery store).

On your first visit to the supermarket, look at nutrition labels. Pick a variety of healthy entrées and dinners (e.g., Amy's, Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Campbell's, etc.) that appeal to your tastes and provide a satisfying portion. If a frozen meal tastes great but you need three of them to fill you up and feel satisfied, it's not the one for you.

My recommendation is to make an initial one-time investment of about $55 to taste-test 20 entrees. The choices are endless, ranging from Indian to Italian, Mexican to vegetarian, and chicken to meat platters — all of which can add a little spice to your daily diet. Also, test the soups and other packaged foods. You just have to decide which ones you'll enjoy and can see yourself continuing to eat in the long run.

  1. Find Your Favorites. Experiment and sample a variety of foods. Some of the entrées or sides will not be to your liking, that’s fine. Just don’t sample three or four meals at a time! Eventually you will find your favorites; stock up on those. You can even order them by the case if you want. For instance,Amazon.com offers Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Amy’s (soups), Weight Watchers Smart Ones and many others. Ordering online means the foods will come directly to your door, which will make weight loss even easier.

Once you figure out which meals you like, keep a supply in your freezer and fridge — that way, a healthy meal will always be just a few minutes away. It's a good idea to serve them on a plate. The volume of food appears bigger and fills up the plate, and as a result you will be more satisfied.

  1. Create A Weekly Planning Guide. Make sure you fill in every detail. It's best to use a spreadsheet program to create a form. Planning your meals in advance is extremely important because it leaves less room for things to go wrong, which is usually when people fall off the wagon.
  2. Create A Weekly Shopping List. This will ensure that all the foods on your weekly menu make it to your cupboard, fridge and freezer.
  3. Weigh Yourself. Do this on the very first morning of your first day, before eating anything but after using the bathroom.
  4. Put the Diet Detective’s Build-a-Meal Plan Into Action. Simply choose your breakfast entrée and side, a midmorning snack, your lunch entrée and side, an afternoon snack, your dinner entrée and side(s) and a dessert, along with your beverages. You will see that even though fruits and vegetables are generally considered side dishes, I have listed them in a separate category. That’s because I want to make sure you include as many of them as possible in your meal plan.

In selecting sides and snacks, always look at the fruits and vegetables first. Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, which helps fill you up,­ exactly what you are looking for when you’re trying to lose weight. Finally, keep in mind that condiments have calories, too, and need to be taken into account when planning your meal ­ that’s why they’re listed as sides.

Here’s an example of how it works:

1,200-Calorie Meal Plan
Breakfast: (entrée 250 calories; drink 25 calories)
Midmorning Snack (fruit 50 calories)
Lunch (entrée 300 calories; drink 0 calories)
Afternoon Snack (50 calories)
Dinner (entrée 350 calories; side(s) 50 calories; fruit or vegetable 50 calories)
Dessert (50 calories)
Drink (25 calories)

Sample 1,200-Calorie Meal Plan
Breakfast
Entrée: Dunkin’ Donuts Sausage, Egg White & Cheese Wake-Up Wrap
Drink: Dunkin’ Donuts Medium Iced Coffee
Morning Snack
Mott’s No-Sugar-Added Natural Apple Sauce
Lunch
Entrée: Subway Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup
Drink: Club Soda
Afternoon Snack
Ready Pac Carrots with Ranch Dip Snack Pack
Dinner
Entrée: Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Vegetable: Fresh Express 5-Lettuce Mix (1 bag)
Side: Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers Balsamic Breeze Vinaigrette Dressing (10 sprays)
Side: Campbell’s Vegetable Beef Soup at Hand
Dessert: Jolly Rancher Popsicle Ice Pops (1 pop)
Drink: Water or coffee

  1. Walk. Yes, walk every single day for at least 30 minutes more than you were walking before you started the plan.