In America one of the most popular subjects is diets. Most major magazines have at least one ‘diet’ article in every issue, if not more. It’s the subject of numerous articles in newspapers and on the Internet. New diet books hit the stands regularly and many become bestsellers. The diet and weight loss industry includes commercial chains like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, diet pills, artificial sweeteners, meal replacement shakes and belly-stapling surgeries. Weight loss is big business.
On the one hand, our society idolizes people who are thin, and on the other hand, there is an overabundance of junk foods, snack foods and fast foods that tempt people daily. Combined with a lack of exercise, Americans struggle with their weight. Statistics show that 60 percent of adult Americans weigh too much, and 17 percent of American children and teens are overweight and this problem is getting worse.
This is not just an issue of esthetics, being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including the following:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
- Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
Fad diet and exercise plans that promise quick weight loss don’t usually work for the long haul. About 90% of dieters regain some or all of the weight lost originally. Then there is the new idea of ‘eating more and weighing less’. This diet sounds like heaven! However, you have to understand the theory behind this for it to work. It’s all about what you eat. For example, you can eat all the fresh vegetables and fruit you want and the calories you ingest are minimal. You can’t eat all the cookies, fast foods and potato chips you want – these foods are calorie dense. The ‘eat more, weight less’ plan is basically a good one as the foods you can eat are healthy and will help you lose weight, especially if you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Here are more helpful suggestions:
- Always eat breakfast. Studies show that people who eat a nutritious breakfast are more successful at keeping weight off. Skipping meals leaves you ravenous and you’re more likely to binge later in the day.
- Drink more water. Drinking water is a natural appetite suppressant. Also, by replacing soda, alcohol or coffee with water, you can cut a significant amount of calories from your daily routine. Fruity mixed drinks like a large margarita can have up to 700 calories! Additionally, water is good for your health.
- Prepare your own meals. Restaurant food generally has more salt, more fat and more calories and is served in larger portions than food cooked at home. At home, you can control the amount of salt and oil you use as well as portion size. When you eat out, you might try splitting a meal with someone or bring home half of it.
- Don’t eat to relieve stress. Many people eat more when they are stressed. Try other ways of relieving stress like taking a walk, do some gardening or lawn work, or take up a hobby that interests you.
- Get enough sleep each night. Experts suggest that missing out on sleep can increase your appetite. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Get up and get moving. Getting some daily exercise will help you lose weight as well as make you stronger and healthier. You don’t have to join a gym or run a marathon, just get moving! Park farther away from your destination instead of looking for a parking spot right by the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk in the evening after dinner instead of heading straight for the couch, or meet a friend for a walk instead of a heavy meal.
- Keep track. When you start making changes in your diet and exercise routine, write it down and weigh yourself on a regular basis. Seeing the progress you make will keep you motivated.
- Read food labels. This will keep you from buying foods that contain large amounts of sugar, salt and preservatives. Simple whole foods are more nutritious and will help you lose weight.
- Don’t buy temptation foods. You know what they are – sweet, salty, fried or creamy. If you don’t have them at home or at your office, you won’t be tempted to eat them. Also, ask your friends and family to help you by not offering them to you.
- Take a multivitamin. No matter how balanced your diet is, everyone can benefit from taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement. Studies show that by adding high-quality nutrients to your diet, you can improve your metabolism.
- Small changes promote weight loss. You don’t have to go on a crazy fad diet to lose weight fast. Just switch from simple to complex carbohydrates. For example: eat vegetables rather than white bread, french fries and quarter-pounders. Plant foods are so low in calories they force the body to burn its own fat.