Dieting is Really a Matter of Making Healthy Choices



Dieting is the practice of ingesting food in a regulated fashion to achieve or maintain a controlled weight.

What works to reduce body weight for one person may not necessarily work for another, due to metabolic differences and lifestyle factors.

Also for a variety of reasons, most people find it difficult to maintain significant weight-loss over time - among individuals that have lost 10% or more of body weight, only 20% are able to maintain that weight loss for a full year.

Restricted diets can actually do more harm than good when it comes to children in particular because of their nutritional needs for growth. Always consult a health care professional before putting any child on a specialized diet as well as yourself.

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Food provides nutrients from six broad classes: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, dietary minerals, and water, all of which are essential.

Any diet that fails to meet minimum nutritional requirements can threaten general health (and physical fitness in particular).

Extreme calorie restriction, medication or unusual patterns of eating (i.e. restricting food consumption to a single fruit or meal) can be dangerous and may indicate anorexia nervosa and/or bulimia nervosa, which are common eating disorders and can even be fatal.

There are many types of medications, diuretics, and stimulants available to aid weight loss but beware - they may not always be the best solution .

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Here are some healthy tips:

  • Be aware of what you drink - Sodas, juices, and other drinks are loaded with extra calories. Cutting out soda completely can save you 360 calories or more each day. Avoid diet soda too, the artificial sweeteners are not very good for you and they tend to make some people hungry. And most of all - Drink a lot of water.
  • Exercise - You may find that you don't need to give up calories as much as you need to get up and move your body. Try a variety of activities from team sports to hiking to cycling to rowing until you find ones you like. Find other ways to fit activity into your day: walk to work, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or scrub your kitchen floor - anything that gets you moving will help. Your goal should be 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Start small - Drastic changes are much harder to stick with than small changes. Try reducing the size of the portions you eat and giving up soda for a week. The gradually start introducing healthier foods and exercise into your life.
  • Stop eating when your full - A lot of kids and adults eat when they are bored, lonely, or stressed or keep eating after they are full out of habit. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize how much is in your stomach, so slow down when you eat. Sometimes taking a break before going back for seconds can keep you from eating them. And avoid eating when bored or upset.
  • Eat more less often - Many people find eating a couple of small snacks throughout the day helps them to make healthy choices at meals. Stick a couple of healthy snacks (carrot sticks, granola bars, pretzels, or a piece of fruit) in your purse or back backpack so that you can have one or two snacks a day. Adding healthy snacks to our three squares and eating smaller portions when you sit down to dinner can help you to cut calories without felling deprived,
  • Trash the junk food and buy lots of fruit and vegetables - Five or more servings of fruit and vegetables will help you lose weight and help keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy at the same time. Exchange white bread for whole-wheat, drink lots of water and make sure you have a healthy breakfast. Don't skip breakfast. Having low fat cereal and milk with a piece of fruit is much better than graping a donut on the way to work or skipping breakfast altogether.
  • Avoid fad or prepackaged diets - Processed foods are loaded with extra sugars, carbohydrates and therefore calories. It's never a good idea to trade meals for shakes or give up a food group in the hope that you'll lose weight - we all need a variety of foods to stay healthy.
  • Don't banish certain foods - Don't try to completely cut out your favorite food. Making your favorite food forbidden is a sure way to crave them more. Everybody needs some fat in his or her diet, so if you must have that piece of cake - go for it. But munch on carrots instead of chips to balance it out later in the evening.
  • Forgive yourself - Everyone who has ever tried to lose weight has found it challenging. When you slip up, the best idea is to get right back on track and don't look back.

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Some general rules and guidelines:
  • Don't eat a large meal in the evening when you'll have little opportunity for exercise afterwards. It's best to eat more at the times when you are going to be the most active. Eat a hearty breakfast, a substantial lunch, and a light dinner.
  • Never skip breakfast.
  • Eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food.
  • Don't eat while you're doing anything else like watching TV, using the computer or reading the paper.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • If you must snack, stock the fridge with low fat calorie snacks like raw vegetables and low fat yogurt.

Some calorie burning dieting tips:

  • Instead of riding elevators or escalators, take the stairs.
  • At the supermarket leave the front parking spots to older people and park farther out from the store.
  • Instead of plopping down in front of the TV, do some house chores or go for a brisk walk.
  • If you take the bus or subway, stand in the aisle and let someone else have your seat.
  • At work, instead of taking coffee or smoke breaks take walk breaks.
  • Consider a regular exercise program suited to your likes and dislikes.
  • Instead of watching your kids play, get on the floor or go outside and play with them.
  • Instead of letting the dog out to roam the yard, take the dog for a walk.
  • While watching TV, lie on your back and do some leg lifts, sit ups or isometrics with your arms.

Here is a short list of some of the more popular types of dieting today. Remember with any of these it is important to maintain proper health through proper nutrition and always seek the counsel of your health care provider or nutritionist.
  • FDA Recommended Daily Allowances: This is the government standard for proper nutrition. No single food will have all the nutrients you need. A well balanced diet will help you meet your dietary needs.
  • Fad or Crash: There are many examples of these including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Dr. Phil, etc. These change your lifestyle and eating habits by controlling the foods you eat and the negative thoughts associated with foods. They also limit the amount of foods you can eat by assigning point values.
  • Low Carb: The most popular include the Atkins, South Beach, and The Zone Diet. These restrict carbohydrates and they target the hormone insulin to reduce the body's level of insulin. The belief is that reducing insulin will reduce cravings and lowers fat storage.
  • Macrobiotic: Dr. Michio Kushi created this based on Japanese ways of living and eating healthy and adapted it for the western world. It is designed to promote natural health and also help over 200 chronic conditions.
  • Vegetarian: These are diets which should include a variety of foods including whole grains, fruits, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and if chosen dairy and eggs. Chose lower fat versions of dairy, eat whole refined foods, and choose a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Remember, successful dieting means consuming fewer calories, eating less food, eating healthier food, and getting plenty of exercise. Don't fool yourself into thinking a diet that permits you to eat anything you want will help you lose weight.

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