Let’s not talk about diets. Diets are punishment – like being
sent to bed without dinner. Diets take some of the fun out of
living. Many diets or supplements are harmful to your health
or even dangerous, if you have certain risk factors.
Forget any past diet failures and push aside any guilt or shame
you harbor about your weight. It’s time to look forward; not
back. You have the whole future in front of you to get better
every day. It's time to eat healthy.
This is not a short term fix. Isn’t your health more important
than your weight? Let’s be sensible and talk about eating healthy
Don’t get me wrong – diets do help many people lose weight – for
a time. Almost any restrictive diet can give one a jump start
on weight loss; and many people are so encouraged by the rapid
weight loss that they are motivated to stay on the diet.
Studies have shown that the only diets that work are the ones
you stick to. That why the majority of people who successfully
lose weight on a restrictive diet run into trouble when they
move to the maintenance phase. So again I say, you need a plan
to eat healthy for life.
As with most things in life, there’s no ONE solution that
suit’s everyone. When choosing to eat healthy, a plan for the
rest of your life, you want to find one that YOU can live
If your choice of plan starts with an initial (less than
nutritious) restrictive phase, consider what supplements you ought
to take during that phase. Also be sure that the maintenance part
of the program meets generally accepted nutritional guidelines or
that you can make it do so with minor adjustments or
supplementation. You definitely need to think long term when
choosing to eat healthy.
What We’ve Known All Along
With all the diet programs, books, ads and fads these days, it’s
easy to lose sight of some really basic facts of some very
convincing long term health studies that can guide us to healthier
1.Calories In vs. Calories Expended
The human body is a marvelous machine. It can be pushed to great
lengths, like pre-exam all-nighters, or to perform amazing feats,
like running marathons or scaling mountains. But it is a machine.
It needs to be cared for and properly maintained.
The more it is abused or pushed to the max, the greater the chance
that parts will break down prematurely or beyond nature’s ability to
repair them. Like any machine, it needs fuel to operate. Give it
improper or insufficient fuel and it won’t run as well, if at all.
Give it too much fuel and that will gum up the works. Now here’s
where the analogy breaks down.
With a man made machine, excess fuel simply overflows and makes a
big mess. Unfortunately, the human machine has the amazing capacity
to create unlimited new storage tanks for excess fuel – even to the
point of death. Further, once that excess fuel is stored, it is
difficult to dislodge – but not impossible. That’s the
Calories In part of the equation.
The fuel you take in is burned by every single movement you make:
breathing smiling, kissing, walking, dancing, chewing and even
digesting your food. The more you move, the more fuel (calories) you
The part of your body that has the ability to move other parts is
muscle. Ergo the more muscles you have and the more you use them, the
more calories you burn. In fact, every ounce of muscle you add
increases your basal metabolism – the rate at which your body burns
One pound of fat contains 3500 calories. If you cut 250 calories from
your daily diet and burn another 250 calories with exercise, you
can lose one pound in a week!
The most efficient way to eat healthy operates on both sides of the
equation. Monitor your fuel intake of course; but just as importantly,
get moving to burn that fuel. And better yet, build new muscle to boost
your metabolism – the rate at which YOUR body burns fuel. This
way you’ll burn more calories every hour of every day for the rest of
2.Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Populations
Global epidemiological studies have identified some unusually healthy
populations and linked their health to diets that differ in significant
ways from the typical Western diet.
Japan, which has some of the world's lowest rates of obesity, heart
disease, cancer and diabetes has a diet which is very rich in
carbohydrates. The Japanese enjoy rice, vegetables, beans, and fruits
at most meals.
They have a diet that is very low in saturated fat and red meats, but
high in fish which contain protective omega-3 fatty acids.
Other recent and very interesting studies lead to more healthful eating
tips. The Mediterranean food pyramid is based on research showing low
rates of heart and other chronic disease in certain countries bordering
the Mediterranean Sea compared to the West.
Research has isolated key dietary habits that are believed to account for
the difference. (Monounsaturated) olive oil is the preferred fat and
fat consumption (at 40% of total calories) exceeds the American Heart
Association’s recommended max of 30%.
Whole grains and pastas form the base of the pyramid, so this is not a
low carb eating style.
The choice of proteins in order of preference is cheese and yogurt, fish,
poultry, eggs and (last and least) red meat. Further, proteins are grouped
at the top of the pyramid so they account for only about 15% of daily
It’s also important to note that the Mediterranean lifestyle incorporates
more natural physical activity – as distinct from the Western variety of
mandatory exercise. You know, the “I just gotta get to the gym today”
or “I have to miss my weekly tennis game Saturday. Now what can I do?!”
If you’re interested in following any low carb plan, limit the time you
follow the restrictive phase and take the information above into account
when you plan your maintenance program.
3.Health Risks of Long Term Restrictive Diets
In choosing to eat healthy for life, be sure to consider well-founded
dietary advice such as recommended by the American Cancer Society for
optimal cancer prevention:
Eat five or more (optimally nine) servings of fruits and vegetables
daily; include fruits and vegetables at every meal and for snacks.
Aside from the fact that many fruits and vegetables are good diet food
because they have low calorie density (high water and fiber content),
these foods are loaded with phytochemicals which work to prevent illness,
cancer, and other diseases.
Choose whole grains in preference to processed grains and sugars. Choose
bran, whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and whole grain cereals as
well as beans and legumes.
Limit consumption of red meats, especially processed meats and those high
Current estimates are that nearly 33-50% of cancers can be prevented
through a eat healthy diet. The recommendations above come from hundreds
of research studies which show a link between cancer prevention and a high
intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Hundreds of studies
also support the link between a high fat diet, high intake of red meats and
increased incidence of cancer
Don’t be taken in by some of the full page ads you see with before and after
pictures that promise weight loss just by taking some magic pill. In some of
them you can even tell that the same head has been pasted onto the fatter
body or the faces look dissimilar enough that you think, “That’s NOT the
If you’ve read this far you know about the calories in, calories out
equation. Sorry, but it’s simple math and simple physics. A pill alone will
never do it.
However, that doesn’t mean that there are no little magic pills that can
help you lose weight in the context of a healthy eating and
exercise plan. There is a lot of exciting research showing that certain
supplements can boost and sustain your metabolic rate as you age, increase
muscle tone and even help the body develop more muscle, such as Green
Tea Extraxt or DHEA.
Weight loss often results when people switch their focus from dieting in order
to get thin to choosing foods for health. This is especially true if they
also pay heed to the other side of the calories in, calories out
equation and get moving.
Common sense strategies, yes, but these are the only ones proven to work
long-term. Now, are you ready to Eat Healthy for Life?
This article is for informational purposes only. It does not purport to offer
Jean Bowler is a life long fitness freak. She was a ballet dancer and teacher, a private fitness trainer and more. Visit her site, http://www.ageless-beauty.com for advice on diet and nutrition, skin care and more.