Losing Weight Without Fad Diets
If you've followed a fad diet, you have plenty of company. But have
you been able to stay on these deprivation diets for a long time? And if
you did lose weight, did the pounds stay off once you went back to your
usual way of eating?
The truth is fad diets don't work to help you keep the weight you lose off long-term.
So what does work? Here's some simple, straightforward advice.
Variety Is Key
Just as a car needs the proper gasoline to make it run, a body
needs a healthy diet to develop properly. That means the right balance
of protein, carbohydrates, and fat -- as well as a host of other
When you go on a fad diet and exclude necessary nutrients, you're
putting yourself at risk for becoming ill. Getting too little of any
nutrient may not cause an immediate problem. But if it's lacking for a
long time, you may find you have health problems.
Practice Portion Control
America's obesity epidemic may not come solely from the type
of foods people eat but also from the portion sizes. Food servings have
grown larger and larger over the years. And fast food restaurants
aren't the only places you'll find super-sized meals. Researchers have
noted that from 1970 through the 1990s, portion sizes of foods such as
hamburgers, burritos, tacos, French fries, sodas, ice cream, pie,
cookies, and salty snacks increased -- whether the foods were eaten at
home or at restaurants.
Just what does a healthy serving size look like? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- A cup of fruit should be no larger than your fist.
- One ounce of meat or cheese is about the same as the size of your thumb from base to tip.
- Three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry (a normal serving) is about the size of your palm.
- One to two ounces of nuts equals your cupped hand.
Here are some more tips to help with portion (and calorie) control:
- Serve your meals on salad plates instead of large dinner plates.
- Store snack foods in tiny sandwich bags so you are sure you're eating no more than one portion.
- When ordering out, share your entrée with a friend.
- Ask for a kids' meal or small size. Never go for a super-size portion.
- Fill up on fresh green salads, fruit, and vegetables instead of high-fat foods, breads, pasta, and desserts.
Simple Strategies for Losing Weight
The best diet is not a diet at all but a way of life that includes food you enjoy, exercise, and healthy habits.
- Eat a variety of foods -- lean protein; complex carbohydrates
such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and "good" fats, like
omega-3 fats from fish and monounsaturated fats from avocados, nuts, and
olives or olive oil.
- Say NO to bad fats: minimize how much saturated fat you get
from animal sources, and eliminate trans fats from the fried foods,
snacks, and fast food products you eat.
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Choose different colors of fruits and vegetables to ensure optimal
- Be careful about portion sizes. If you must have seconds, serve yourself vegetables.
- Exercise at least 150 minutes each week with a moderately
intense activity like brisk walking. This can be divided into smaller
blocks of time. For example, you could do a brisk walk for 10 minutes
three times a day for five days to reach 150 minutes.
- Clean out the kitchen and eliminate all junk food. Toss out
high-calorie, high-fat, sugary foods that will tempt you to overeat --
chips, cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy bars, and the like.
- Fill your kitchen with lean protein, fruits and vegetables,
whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, good fats, and fat-free or
low-fat dairy products.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently. Five to six per day may be
best. Space your meals every three to four hours throughout your day.
Try taking low fat cheese and whole grain crackers to school or work for
a snack, or eat a tablespoon of peanut butter with one slice of whole
grain bread. Find foods that are healthy and that keep you full.
- If you like lots of food on your plate, fill up with a large
salad and a super serving of green beans, broccoli, cabbage, kale, or
other low calorie vegetable.
- Snack on berries. Dark berries (blueberries, blackberries,
cherries, and raspberries) are rich in healthy antioxidants. They are
also low in calories and fat and high in fiber.
- Avoid "empty calories" including sugar-containing sodas and fruit drinks.
If you need more information on weight loss and dieting, talk to your
health care provider or a registered dietitian. Ask your doctor about
your "ideal" weight and the number of calories you need to lose pounds
and maintain an ideal weight.
Also, ask friends, family, or coworkers to join you as you work
to change your eating habits and pare down your weight. Sticking to a
weight loss plan is much easier when you have someone to support you.