Dieting vs. Healthy Eating

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Fresh vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Losing weight or getting in shape is always a favorite for those making New Year’s resolutions. Focusing on healthy habits has many benefits including increased confidence, abundant energy, and improved health, so why is it so hard to see your health and wellness goals past resolution season?
Many who set out to lose weight embark on a diet, this is the first mistake if lasting weight loss is the ultimate goal. Diets, by nature, are temporary and produce the mindset of deprivation. One becomes so focused on the foods that are no longer permitted and suddenly the well-intentioned diet now seems like punishment. Instead of dieting and focusing on foods that are off-limits, focus on incorporating more healthy eating strategies, and after time healthy eating becomes a lifestyle, and not a punishment. That is not to say that achieving your weight-loss goals will not be challenging, change is always challenging, but when you are realistic about where you are currently and where you would like to be, real change is attainable.
To begin, set SMART (S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable, R-rewarding, T-timely) weight-loss goals. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in. Since one pound equals 3,500 calories, you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500—1000 calories per day to lose the recommended average of 1 to 2 pounds per week.  If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to learn better eating habits that you can maintain for a lifetime.
Healthy Eating Strategies

  • Read nutritional labels– Educate yourself on what you are eating, there are many surprising things allowed in our food supply, find out what you’re ingesting. For example, Purdue researchers found that Olean, used in some brands of light and fat-free potato chips, can trigger GI side effects in portions of the population, but also can make you gain weight. The study found, rats fed potato chips containing Olean as part of a high-fat diet, ate more overall and gained more weight than those who were fed a high fat diet and consumed regular, full-fat potato chips. Why? Fake fats and chemicals screw with our body’s ability to digest and metabolize food, making us more likely to retain weight from what we eat rather than burn off the calories. To learn more about nutritional labels, please visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/NFLPM/ucm274593.htm
  • Don’t eat “diet food”– According to www.slim-fast.com, the fourth ingredient in slim-fast shakes is Canola oil, additional ingredients include, fructose, Hydrogenated soybean oil, and High Fructose Corn Syrup. A healthy diet should not include any of these ingredients regularly, especially when weight-loss is the goal.
  • Switch to whole grains– Scientists at the University of Copenhagen found in a randomized clinical trial, participants eating a diet with whole grains verses refined ones, lost more weight and saw a more significant decrease in body fat compared to those eating refined grains exclusively.
  • Cut out the sweetened beverages– Too much sugar is not good for you, adding calories without nutrition, but studies have proven that artificial sweeteners make you gain more weight than consuming regular sugar, indicating that when your body gets a hit of sweet taste without the calories to go with it, it adversely affects your appetite control mechanisms, causing increased food cravings.  If you can’t give up sweetened beverages completely, reduce your daily intake as much as possible, a 12 ounce soda can have 100-180 calories per can so reducing your soda intake also reduces your calorie intake significantly.
  • Get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetablesWeight loss is not the only benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health. Aim for 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily and 2 cups of fruit.
  • Eat a variety of foods from all the major food groups– Visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate/index.aspx to get a personalized Daily Food Plan.
  • Keep a food journal- Research has found those that keep a food journal lose almost double the weight of those who don’t, and are more successful in keeping it off.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid, from the Harvard S...

The Healthy Eating Pyramid, from the Harvard School of Public Health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USDA also offers the SuperTracker, a free website, which can help you plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity. You can look up individual foods to see or compare their nutritional value, find recommendations for what and how much you should eat, compare your food choices to these recommendations and to your nutrient needs, and access personal physical activities and identify ways to improve. Find recommendations for what and how much you should eat. For more information, visit https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/

©Ellice Campbell 2013