Saturday, June 6, 2009

5 Tips to Trim the Waist for Summer!

As a dietitian, approximately 60% of my patients walk through my door with a goal to lose weight. Weight loss can help control diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), high blood pressure (hypertension), and many other ailments. I consistently hear the same story--"I tried this diet and it worked, but now I am sick of it and cannot look at that food again." OR I am asked, "Is there a meal plan that I can follow to lose weight?" I understand their frustrations and sometimes desperation. Losing weight is not always easy! The science of nutrition and food have long been a passion of mine. I strive to stay current and up on research. With that said, I will answer some burning questions I am often asked:
  • Do fad diets work? Yes, they can. The question becomes for how long. Many popular, what I call "Cookie Cutter" diets, can work. They are often restrictive, provide little variety, and lack the research supporting long-term results.
  • Do diet pills work? This depends and can be dangerous. Supplement laws are very flimsy and claims can be made without legitimate research as evidence. You are safer seeking out the advice of a dietitian or physician prior to beginning a diet pill program. If you have a specific diet pill in mind please ask me about it first!
  • What's your approach to weight loss? My approach is a non-diet approach. Yes, I look at what you are currently eating and how improvements can be made, but I also evaluate your relationship with food and behaviors toward food. My most successful patients are those who modify their behaviors and create a healthier relationship with food.

Here are 5 of my favorite tips to trim your waist

  1. Keep a journal. In your journal write down what you ate, time, location, with whom, and how you felt while eating (sad, happy, rushed, stressed, guilty, etc.)
  2. Write down realistic goals. Make your goals quantitative. This means put numbers to them. For example, At least 5 days per week I will eat 4 cups of colorful vegetables. If your goals are flimsy and broad you won't have anything concrete to focus on.
  3. Increase your vegetable intake. Generally, Americans eat very little vegetables (1-2 servings per day). A serving is 1 cup raw and 1/2 cup cooked, and your goal should be closer to 5 servings per day. Vegetables add fiber, nutrients, and are low in calories (unless they are adulterated!)
  4. Eliminate liquid calories. Liquids go down easily, and so can hundreds of calories with them. Cut out or cut back on sodas, juices, and even the waters that only have 10-25 calories per serving.
  5. Be aware! Look at labels, read the calories and look at the portion sizes. You might be surprised! Don't assume all products are the same or are the same serving size. You must be your own advocate, and if you have challenges with accountability seek out a dietitian for assistance.

A couple of my favorite quotes:

If it walks like a cookie, tastes like a cookie, it probably is a cookie--no matter how many vitamins and minerals they add to the cookie!

Trail mix should be eaten---on a TRAIL!

Sports drinks should be savored--during a sporting event (no, not for the spectators)!

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