Starting Off Right!

Sandra May  |  1/4/2017 8:45:26 PM

It’s the start of a new year, and now it’s time to begin those New Year’s resolutions. If you were one of those who made a resolution to eat better and start exercising, you were not alone. Approximately 40-50% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. According to a 2015 Nielsen survey, the top resolution was to stay fit and healthy (37%). Coming in second at 32% was to lose weight.

With the resolution to lose weight, fad diets become highly popular. Claims and testimonials of quick and easy weight loss make fad diets attractive to consumers. Experts show “proof” that eating more high fat protein foods and cutting carbohydrates are healthful ways to lose weight. Or that eating the foods cavemen ate (or didn’t eat) over 10,000 years ago is better for us. Unfortunately, diets that eliminate entire food groups, like grains and dairy foods can’t be followed for long periods of time. Eventually the temptation to snack on a hand full of crackers or have a sandwich with cheese becomes overpowering. It’s unfortunate that carbohydrates have been given a bad reputation for causing weight gain. The truth is that carbohydrates provide energy for the body and brain! It’s consuming too many calories that causes weight gain. Some of those calories may come from foods that contain refined carbohydrates, added sugars and are high in fat and calories, such as cookies, cakes and crackers.

Fad diets that allow only unlimited quantities of certain foods, such as grapefruit or cabbage soup, or that follow a strict meal plan are extremely restrictive and time consuming to plan. The self-denial of a variety of foods becomes monotonous and boring. Not to mention, diets that eliminate entire food groups or a variety of foods lack vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed for a healthy body.

The real truth behind fad diets is that they all cut calories, some to very low levels. Cutting calories will lead to weight loss. To keep the weight off, however, changes have to be sustainable. If you want to be successful in losing weight this year, start slowly and make small changes. It took a while for the weight to come on; it’ll take a while for it to come off. The 2016 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the following for a healthful diet:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables – Focus on whole fruits. Vary your veggies.
  • Make half your grains whole grains.
  • Move to low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.
  • Vary your protein routine.
  • Drink or eat foods with less sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.
  • If you don’t get any physical activity, begin moving for at least 10 minutes a day and increase the duration and intensity over time to 30-60 minutes most days of the week.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

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