Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Small Diet Strategies that Work

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Reprinted from: Lori’s Natural Food Newsletter, April, 2013 http://lorisnatural.com/newsletter/april2013.pdf

Barb Goshorn RN, MSACN 

By now many have forgone their New Year’s resolution to lose weight and are back to their old eating habits. Remember, although it’s exciting to make gigantic overhauls in eating, these changes are very difficult to maintain over the long term. When rapid, restrictive changes are made it often makes one feel deprived. This leads to the inability to maintain healthy eating for the long term and by February we are back to our old habits and have regained the weight we lost in January. When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to make small, gradual changes that are realistic and maintainable. Small positive steps help build momentum in achieving permanent weight loss and help improve the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Pay attention to portion control. Most of us are unaware of how large our portion sizes have become. Years ago a dinner plate was 9 inches, now it is 11 inches. We fill our plates without realizing we are eating two to three times a serving size. When eating out, order an appetizer instead of an entrée, share your meal with a friend, or ask to have half your meal packaged up. Reading labels is important too. Many packaged foods look as if they are one serving but are actually two or more. Another strategy is to leave a percentage of your meal on your plate. Research indicates that our calorie consumption has increased by 20% since the 1970’s. Leaving 10% on your plate is a good way to compensate for this.
Include more vegetables in your diet. Research indicates we only eat an average of 59% of the vegetables we’re supposed to consume daily. You should aim for 2.5 cups a day to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It’s easy to add vegetables. Add lettuce, tomatoes, and green peppers to sandwiches. Add extra vegetables to canned soup such as spinach and cabbage. Replace a portion of lasagna noodles with thin slices of zucchini. Add onion, mushrooms, and spinach to eggs. If you like protein shakes, add a scoop of dried greens. If you don’t have time to make a salad, utilize bagged salads.
Pay attention to what you are eating. So often we finish a meal and have little recollection of what we’ve eaten. Try not to multitask during a meal. Eating should be a time to slow down. Turn off the television and internet. Take the time to enjoy the taste and aroma of your food. When you relax and take the time to enjoy your meal, you will often feel satisfied for longer periods of time.
Snack with caution. Snacking now accounts for upwards of 500 calories a day. This is up from 200 calories a day in the 1970’s. Snacking should provide healthy carbohydrates and protein instead of the high sugar and fat in snacks that are more the norm today. An example of some good snacks that are between 100 and 200 calories are an apple with almonds, hummus with green peppers and carrots, or a Greek yogurt with a pear.
Eat only while sitting. How often do we stand with the refrigerator door open, snacking, while deciding what we want to eat? We often eat on the run and don’t even remember eating. Often while cooking we snack so much, we aren’t even hungry for dinner. All those snacks add up. If you make it a rule to only eat while sitting you will eliminate a lot of mindless snacking. You will also digest your food better and may feel content longer.
Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After going all night without food it is a great way to refuel your body. It’s important to include protein and carbohydrates in breakfast to increase your energy levels. Breakfast will give your brain glucose for increased concentration. People mistakenly believe skipping breakfast will help them to lose weight. Unfortunately the opposite is true. Eating breakfast curbs the appetite and keeps blood sugar levels even. Research indicates skipping breakfast leads to more snacking and overeating later in the day.
Stay hydrated. Did you know that being dehydrated mimics hunger and research indicates that as many as 75% of the population is chronically dehydrated? A 2010 study found people who consumed 16 ounces of water three times a day before meals lost an average of five more pounds than those that did not. Every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body is partly composed of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight a day in ounces. Every situation is unique though, for example, exercising outside on a hot day increases your water requirement. Look at your urine. If it is the color of lemonade you are well hydrated. If it is the color of apple juice, you are dehydrated.
Remember slow and steady wins the race and this holds true especially with weight loss. Nothing is more frustrating than to lose 10 pounds in January just to gain back 15 pounds in February. By making slow positive changes, weight loss need not be a roller coaster. In addition, these changes encourage healthy eating, which increases energy and well being. They are also easy to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle.