There are many reasons for people to be following a diet. Perhaps it is a special, doctor-advised regimen meant to control or prevent certain illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Maybe a diet is required due to particular food allergies like a gluten-free diet or for people who are lactose intolerant. The option of a diet such as vegetarian or macrobiotic might simply be a personal lifestyle choice. However, most people who are dieting are doing so because they are overweight.
According to the National Institutes of Health(NIH), in 1999, almost 108 million adults in the United States were overweight or obese--55 percent of the adult population. Being obese or overweight substantially increases the risk of morbidity from hypertension; type 2 diabetes; coronary heart disease; stroke; gallbladder disease; osteoarthritis; sleep apnea; and breast, prostate and colon cancers. In addition to the thousands of lives that are cut short by obesity, the economic cost is staggering. The total costs attributable to obesity-related disease approaches $100 billion annually (NIH).
There are lots or reasons to lose weight. To be healthier. To feel better. To look better. To have more energy. No matter what the reason, successful weight loss and healthy weight management depend on sensible goals and expectations. In fact, losing even five to 10 percent of your present weight is the kind of goal that can help improve your health. Experts suggest aiming for a loss of 10 to 20 pounds which is very realistic and quite doable. Did you know that 20 pounds equals 9,072 paper clips, or 1,599 quarters, 480 slices of uncooked bacon or 2.5 bowling balls?
What you weigh is the result of several factors: how much and what kind of food you eat; whether your lifestyle includes regular physical activity; whether you use food to respond to stress or loneliness; your psychological and genetic make-up; your age and health status.
Successful weight loss and weight management programs should address all of these factors. That's the reason to ignore products or plans that promise quick and easy, permanent results without permanent changes in your lifestyle. When it comes to evaluating claims for weight loss products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends a healthy portion of skepticism. Before you spend money on programs or products that promise fast and easy results, weigh the claims carefully. They probably will not work, and the use of some products may not be safe.
Food specific diets rely on the myth that some foods have special properties that can cause weight loss or gain. However, no single food can. Many of the fad diets--like the infamous Cabbage Soup Diet--can undermine your health, cause physical discomfort (gas) and lead to disappointment when you regain the weight soon after you lose it. There are no "superfoods." That's why you should eat moderate amounts from all food groups, not large amounts of a few special foods.
Doctors, dieticians, and other health experts agree that the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and increase physical activity so you burn more energy. A reasonable goal is to lose about a pound a week. For most people that means cutting about 500 calories a day and exercising regularly.
Taking charge of your eating habits is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Staying motivated is a large part of your success, because most diets work--if you stick to them for the long term. Most successful dieters tell researchers that they lost weight and kept it off by doing their own thing. They devised a personal plan of eating and exercise which they could stick with. And you can do it too!
Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently Vice President of Elfin Enterprises of Montana, Inc. a business dedicated to providing information and resources on a variety of topics. For more diet tips visit http://www.DietDoor.com