Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Fad Diets

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Fad Diets

There is no shortage of diet plans on the market.  New ones pop up all the time, leaving people more confused on what the best plan is to maintain good health, lose weight and keep it off for the long term.  Most of the popular diet trends vary in some shape or form, the basics of all the good plans are really very simple:  eat real food in it’s most natural form, cut out as much junk and processed food as you can, limit sugar and white flour and exercise some type of portion control.

Most of these diets will have good results because the participants are forced to focus intently on what they are putting into their body.  

The problem with diets then is not the diet itself, but the mindset of what happens when you go “off” the diet and resume your “normal” eating patterns.  Of course it you lose weight on the diet, then resume your old habits the weight you lost will return.  Typically, you will also mess up your metabolism in the process and end up gaining even more weight back.  This is why it is important to change your mindset about how you fuel your body instead of looking for quick, short-term fixes.  Long-term health benefits, including a healthy weight, will result from diets that incorporate the following:

  1. Eating enough food to fill you up and fuel your body.
  2. Eating more whole plant foods such as veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains.
  3. Cutting out as much junk and processed foods as possible.  This includes food and drinks with artificial sweeteners even though they are zero calorie or low calorie.  
  4. Don’t focus on weight, focus on health.  Eat high quality foods that will fuel your body.

Common sense will go a long way in helping you realize your goal.  Jumping on the bandwagon of the latest diet or fitness craze will assuredly leave you at the same weight eventually and usually tired, cranky and frustrated in the meantime.  Diets that restrict entire food groups, diet pills, powders and shakes are short term fixes.  Realize early on that there is no shortcut to a healthy body.  Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly are the only way that yield long-term, sustainable results.

Adapting a healthy, maintainable lifestyle will prove to be a much more successful approach to long term weight loss than any highly restrictive eating plan. There will always be diets that come and go from popularity.  Many promise quick weight loss and may even deliver short term benefits, but most are usually too restrictive to maintain for the long term.  Following the diet du jour will typically put you through the roller coaster of initial weight loss followed by a plateau, leaving you feeling deprived and irritable, then frustrated for having failed to continue with the diet.  This will also wreak havoc on your metabolism and may backfire and leave you in a worse condition than when you started.

Your body requires a multitude of nutrients that are found in a great variety of foods.  Any diet that cuts out or greatly restricts an entire food group or groups is generally going to be too restrictive to adhere to for a lifetime.  You may be able to compensate for a short period of time, but eventually your body will notice that it’s needs aren’t being met and you will undoubtedly see the consequences in the form of irritability, sluggishness, constipation and a variety of other unpleasantness.

The most popular diet fad recently has been the high protein, low carb combo (Atkins, the Zone, Sugar Busters).  The idea is the carbohydrate intake makes the body produce insulin and the increased insulin levels can lead to weight gain.  High protein diets will cause initial weight loss because of restricted calorie intake,  water loss during the first few weeks and an increase in basal metabolic rate because the body must burn more calories to break down protein than it does to digest other foods.

However, high protein, low carbohydrate diets causes concern because:

  • Increases in low-fat protein can reduce LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and reduce good cholesterol putting you at an increased risk for heart disease.
  • Protein digestion leaches calcium from the bones increasing your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
  • Digesting large amounts of protein works the kidneys harder and may cause long-term kidney disease.
  • By emphasizing protein and de-emphasizing other macronutrients, you may not obtain enough fiber and nutrients leading to a host of other health dangers.

There are several other common trends that promise weight loss in an easy, packaged form.  Again, the focus should always be on the long-term plan that is sustainable for a lifetime, not a quick fix in a bottle.

Bottom Line: Long-term weight loss come about by reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity to create and calorie deficit.  Eat clean, whole, unprocessed foods and your metabolism will do it’s job, your insides will be clean and functioning properly and you will get all the nutrients you need.  Be wary of any diet promising weight loss from any other method.

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Take Away:  Use the knowledge you have gained so far to make informed decisions on the amount of food you eat and exercise you do.  Don’t be lured into programs offering quick results with minimal effort.

 

Good, Better, Best Food Choices

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Good – Better – Best Food Choices

As you strive to make choices that better align with leading a healthier lifestyle, try to remember that it doesn’t have to be a ‘all or none’ mentality when replacing not-so-good-for foods with healthier alternative.  A gradual step may make it easier to adjust without feeling deprived or overwhelmed.  Use the chart below to help you decide where you can ‘trade up’ to healthier versions of food you are already eating.  Use the additional spaces to fill in good, better and best food choices of other foods you are currently eating.

Good – Better – Best Food Choices

Avoid Good Better Best
Chips Baked Chips Popcorn, peanuts, almonds
Cheeseburger Grilled Chicken Sandwich Salad with Grilled Chicken
Pop Zero calorie drinks Water
White Bread Wheat Bread Whole Grain Bread 100% Whole Wheat
Cereal with marshmallows and bright colors Fortified cereals enriched with vitamins and minerals Whole Grain Cereals (look for more than 2-3 grams of fiber per serving) Whole Grain Cereals low in sugar (fewer than 5 grams per serving)
White pasta Veggie enriched pasta Whole wheat pasta
Bologna, salami and other processed meats Lean deli meats like chicken or turkey Low-sodium deli turkey or chicken Whole cuts of chicken or turkey either grilled or baked and cut thin
Chocolate milk 2% milk 1% milk Organic skim milk, soy, coconut or almond milk
Yogurt with high fructose corn syrup and bright colors Low fat flavored yogurt Low fat plain yogurt Greek yogurt
Processed oatmeal bars Instant oatmeal Whole grain rolled oats Steel cut oats

Try to eat as many fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat as possible.  Try to avoid foods that are packaged and contain unnatural additives and preservatives.  These chemicals are unnatural to your body and can deteriorate your health.

 Snacking throughout the day on things like granola, fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains will help keep your metabolism boosted and your energy levels high all day.  Unhealthy snacking on chips and candy will cause a boost in metabolism in the short term followed by an energy crash.

To Do:  Always aim for the best choice of foods that you can.  

 

Food as Fuel

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What is your relationship with food?

We have become a society obsessed with food.  It is the core of everything we do.  We have become programmed to think about food at every turn: romance =  restaurant food, busy = fast food, diet = health food, T.V. = junk food, party = snack food, weight loss = diet food, quick fix = supplements, no time = convenience foods, muscle = bodybuilding food, reward = food, food, food.

Food is the answer to everything, apparently.

What if it’s not?

What if food is simply fuel for living and sustaining our bodies.  That’s all.  Food should not be seen as a reward for a job well done or a pacifier to soothe a troubled soul. It should not be used as a reward for good behavior, a comfort when you are distressed or a time filler when you’re bored.  If food is your feel good crutch and you try to take it away, you will leave yourself feeling more deprived than ever.  This is a sure way to set yourself up for failure.

What if we just… ate less food?  What if we just ate what and how much we need to fuel ourselves.  What if we don’t stuff ourselves at every opportunity just because there is food available.  What if we quit eating when we were full and realized that we will be able to eat more food when we are hungry again.

What if we…  change our relationship with food?  What if we found other ways to entertain, comfort or reward ourselves. What if we stop allowing advertisers tell us when and what we want to eat.  We may find that food isn’t necessarily the bad guy and that it was us all along that made it that way.

In order to be successful in keeping weight off you will need to change your mind set about how you view the food you eat.  Food needs to be seen as the fuel your body needs to perform well.   Good food choices will enhance your body’s performance and poor food choices will inhibit your body from performing at its peak.  Junk in, junk out.  You will need to come up with alternate ways to reward yourself and soothe yourself when times are stressful.