Dieting is Out… Healthy Eating is In!
Do you ever feel like dieting is a lost cause? That no matter what you eat, you can’t lose weight? Do you yo-yo up and down the scale? Are you sick and tired of dieting? You’re not alone! After years of obsessing about weight loss, shunning high-fat and high-carb foods, avoiding every treat and sweet, it seems Americans are giving up on formal diets. A recent report by the market research firm NPD, found that the number of Americans on weight loss diets was at its lowest rate in decades. Approximately 26% of women and 16% of men surveyed said they were following a weight-loss diet, down from 39% of women and 29% of men in 1990.
But why are fewer people dieting? One reason may be that they have learned from past mistakes. Diet books, low-calorie, fat-free, and sugar-free foods abound, but don’t appear to be making a dent in the obesity statistics. Many dieters have been lured over and over again by promises of fast weight loss from the latest diet schemes, only to regain the lost weight – and then some – as soon as they go off the diet. Other dieters seem to be waiting for the next great diet craze – the Atkins Diet or South Beach Diet of the moment. Still others reason that with two out of three Americans overweight, overweight is fast becoming the new "normal." When friends and family are overweight, the extra pounds can seem less important. Finally, many are learning formal diets just don’t seem to work long term.
Instead, people seem to be shifting their efforts to healthy eating – an eating plan that can be accepted and followed for the rest of their life – one that doesn’t eliminate any foods or label them “bad”, but a plan that encourages the basic principles of good nutrition and concentrates on moderation. Obviously that would include controlling calorie intake and eating lean, low-fat sources of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. Healthy eaters would also choose nutrient dense foods, rich in vitamins and minerals that are naturally lower in fat, salt and sugar, and while not eliminating high calorie, high fat treats, they would certainly be strictly limited.
Now, becoming a healthy eater does take considerable effort and consistency – but you’re worth it! Take the first steps today by implementing these quick and easy tips. Health eating, instead of dieting, may be the key to long term weight loss and maintenance!
1. Evaluate Your Attitude. When it comes to healthy eating, you’re in it for the long haul. You must truly determine what is going to keep you committed to a lifestyle of healthy eating. Find your motivation and plan around it. You also have to be realistic about your accomplishments. For many, weight loss is a realistic goal of healthy eating. While it’s not going to happen over night, it will happen if you stay motivated. Remember, your focus should be on getting healthy, not wearing a size 2.
2. Eat Breakfast. Studies show that a morning meal can help as a habit that keeps you on track. It sets some structure for the day and also makes you mindful of your choices from the get-go. Also, you won't be over-hungry for lunch - which causes overeating. It doesn’t have to be complicated; foods as simple as a 200-calorie protein bar, a bowl of cheerios and milk or piece of string cheese with an apple are perfect. What's important is the "morning" part - within 2 hours of waking up is a good rule of thumb.
3. Get Enough Sleep. Lack of sleep can cause overeating as a way to boost energy or even to soothe as a reward (poor me, I am awake). Fatigue impairs self-control and the ability to resist food, making it easier to overindulge. Additionally, chronic sleep loss will interfere with body hormones, which can also lead to overeating.
4. Examine Your Stress. Stress is a double whammy when it comes to weight. It can keep you up at night (see #3) and it can lead to emotional eating to comfort and soothe. Chronic stress can also cause an overabundance of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to increased deposits of abdominal fat. Rather than "just say no to food", it's important to evaluate your stress level, and determine which stresses are positive, which are negative, and how to modify and manage each. Consider professional help if you're struggling on your own.
5. Be a Smart Snacker. Snacks are a double-edged sword. Too many can sabotage your effort, but NO snacks can lead to overeating (because you get over-hungry and then overeat later on). The key is to be a smart snacker. The most vulnerable times are late afternoon and night-time. Allow yourself 100-200 calories of mixed composition - a bit of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Think of a fruit and small fat free/sugar free yogurt, a 100-calorie pack of popcorn or wheat thins with low-fat string cheese, or a mini-whole wheat pita with a slice or two of turkey breast.
6. Beware of liquid calories. Because our bodies don't perceive liquid calories very well – they don't "register" as if we've consumed any food – calories from liquids are like add-ons and can pile on hundreds of extra calories that we're not even aware of. Try to skip sodas (even diet – which have been linked to an increased appetite sensation), juices and smoothies. Eat your fruit, don't drink it – we all need the fiber! Pay close attention to your alcohol intake. Except for a glass or two of skim milk, choose additional liquids VERY carefully and always strive for eight 8 oz glasses of water each day.
Information from: www.WebMD.com