Your Weight and
Those who struggle with weight issues do so for many different reasons. While the reasons behind overeating are many, most often, the problem is rooted in eating too much and not moving enough. Although an unhealthy weight usually results from individual choices, now more than ever, our everyday surroundings make it hard for each of us to make healthy choices.
Excess fat, especially the fat around the middle of your body, is connected to an increased risk of many diseases. (See story on your hidden fat) But you don’t have to be 50 pounds overweight to suffer the ill effects of excess body fat. Body fat is described by some health professionals as an organ with functions. It secretes hormones and specialized proteins that can increase inflammation and oxidation in the cells of your body, contributing to diseases like prostate cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
The main strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight include being aware of what and how you are eating, eating less food, eating more often and recognizing your appetite triggers. And, don't forget one very important part of this equation: a well-rounded plan to help you be active!
- Increased Awareness
- It is important that you know what, when, where and how much you eat. Before you start to change your eating habits, start a food diary. Write down every bite of food you eat, what time of day, where you ate it, how much you ate and how you were feeling when you ate it. If you are not aware of what and when you are eating, your chances of overeating are much greater. Example: During a movie it is easy to eat a large tub of buttered popcorn because you are distracted. Think about how hard it would be to sit down at the dinner table and eat that same tub of popcorn without any distractions at all. Chances are, you couldn't do it. Keep writing down every detail for at least the first 6 weeks of your new plan.
Use a small plate. As with portion sizes, our dinnerware has expanded exponentially. Using a 9"-10" plate instead of a 12" plate can save up to 22% of calories.
Slow down. Give yourself at least 20 minutes to eat. Savor and enjoy mealtime!
- Eat Less
- Now that you know more about your eating habits, it's time to learn about portion sizes and nutrition. If you want to lose weight, you must use more calories than you take in each day - and that means keeping track of those calories. An average woman needs to eat 1400 to 1800 calories each day - depending on your health, your activity level, your current BMI and your body's special needs. The average man will want to strive for 2000 to 2600 calories per day, based on the same criteria listed above. There are food plans available for every person. Talk to a doctor or health care professional about your choice to make sure it is the right one for you. Calculate how many calories you need.
- Change Your Ingredients
- Include more fruits and vegetables. Low in calories, yet abundant in health benefits (like phytochemicals and fiber), this one step can lead to a healthier waistline. Fill 1/2 of your plate with fruits and vegetables. If this seems like too drastic of a step, start with including a fruit or vegetable with each meal and snack. Doing this will also influence other healthful choices. Can you see yourself having an apple and a candy bar, or and apple and some whole grain crackers and cheese?
Eat more whole grains.
Look for short ingredients lists (less refined ingredients, additives, etc.) Better yet, do more of your own cooking so you know what's going into your food!
- Eat More Often
- Most Americans have been brought up to eat three large meals a day. There are some studies that show that eating more frequent and smaller meals may help to maintain a healthy weight. For example, you could eat 5- 6 small meals of 200-400 calories (depending on overall calorie needs) each day. To be successful with this strategy, you must plan ahead. From grocery shopping to meal planning, to packing healthy lunches and snacks, you need to have healthy foods on hand. Purchase a digital kitchen scale to help you learn proper serving sizes. Be aware of portion distortion and learn the healthy way to fill your plate. We Americans have been trained to eat BIG, and we need to learn to eat SMALL.
- Eating Triggers
- Emotions control much of our eating behavior. However, the reality is that we cannot avoid being angry, bored, stressed, depressed, sad or happy. These emotions are part of life. What you need to do is learn to recognize these emotions in yourself and learn to deal with them in a way that does not include food. Use your food diary and activity tracker to help you keep track of how you feel when you eat. 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day will help you burn calories, regulate your stress and emotions, and help you maintain a healthy weight once you reach your weight loss goal.
We are all human, we can't be perfect at everything. Try your best each day. Know that if you fall off your diet then you can get back on the next day. Think in terms of healthy lifestyle changes rather than "dieting".
Become more intuitive with your body and the food you put in it. When we think of "dieting" we think of foods that are bad, and "if I eat that bad food then I'm bad." Instead think of how each food can help your body and how to prepare it so that your meal is enjoyable and healthy. Follow the 90-10 rule. Eat 90% for health, 10% for taste. This allows room for favorite foods, in the right proportions. Deprivation rarely works.
We also tend to see "dieting" as a thing you're going to do for a specific amount of time instead of trying to make small healthy changes that you can keep up for the rest of your life. Those are the kind of changes that will give you the benefits you are looking for, such as: long term weight loss, decreased health problems, and more energy.
Remember, no "diet" alone can give you the long term results you want without exercise.
Learn the difference between a healthy diet and an eating disorder.
Do you know your risk factor for chronic health problems like diabetes or heart disease?
Check out these Seven Simple Steps to weight control.