Yes, you read it rightÖno diets!
The first step in this weight management program is to gather all of your old fad diets, quick weight loss remedies, and ďmagic curesĒ. Once you have them all together in a nice, neat pile- throw them into the trash! One thing we have learned in the last 20-30 years is diets donít work and actually can make things worse. Fad diets may provide short term weight loss but they are generally too difficult to stick with for a lifetime. The majority of people who lose weight on fad diets regain that weight within 3 to 5 years. Over time this yo-yo dieting effect can slow your metabolism, the way our bodies burn the calories from the food that we eat. Most fad diets require you to significantly restrict your caloric intake by limiting or even eliminating specific foods from your diet. They lead you to believe that it is these specific foods that are causing you to gain weight. The fact is; a cookie or a slice of French bread is not responsible for weight gain. It is the total number of calories that you consume in a day compared to the amount of calories you use as energy. The calories you donít use as energy turn into stored fat and over time this translates into more body weight.
Yes, its true consuming excess carbohydrates can result in large insulin spikes and cause you to store fat more readily and stimulate your appetite. However, does this mean that everyone in America is eating too many carbohydrates? Not necessarily. Does this mean we need to completely eliminate all carbohydrates from our diet? Absolutely not. It means we need to learn how to eat the right kind of carbohydrates and the right amount.
Itís also true that eating excess fat can make us gain weight because fat carries more calories than protein and carbohydrates, but does this mean that everyoneís issue is too much fat? Once again, no. Therefore, we must approach weight management on an individual basis because not everyone is eating too many calories from bread. Just the same, not everyone is consuming too many calories from cookies. We are all individuals and our eating habits are all unique which is why the one size fits all diet plans donít work. The ultimate key to success is BALANCE.
Balance is providing the appropriate amount of calories, nutrients, and (donít forget) enjoyment from our meals. In a balanced diet, there are no perfect days, no foods are omitted, and you donít have to starve yourself. It may simply be that youíve been eating too many starchy foods and too little fat. This may have stimulated your appetite and caused you to consume more than your body needs. Or vice versa, it may be that you are consuming too many fats and too little fruits and vegetables which can cause you to have a high calorie level with a fairly small intake of food. Perhaps youíve been eating the right balance but with too large of portion sizes. These are the kinds of things that throw us off balance and cause us to consume more calories than we utilize for energy.
Letís take an example
Breakfast: skip (too busy)
Snack: chips from vending machine
Lunch: (restaurant) hamburger and large French fries
Dinner: 8 oz steak and 2 cups mashed potatoes
Dessert: large bowl of ice-cream (1-2 cups)
Breakfast: bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, 1 cup low fat milk
Snack: apple, 1 oz peanuts
Lunch: (restaurant) turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with a bowl vegetable soup
Dinner: 3 oz steak (size of a deck of cards), 1 cup mashed potatoes, and a large salad w/1 TB vinaigrette dressing
Dessert: small bowl of frozen yogurt or sorbet (1/2- 1 cup)
The original meals were heavy in high fat foods, large in portion sizes, (beef, French fries, chips, and ice-cream) and low in fiber. The balance was off. By making these changes we saved approximately 800 calories while still enjoying steak, mashed potatoes, and dessert! Not to mention you get to eat more when you incorporate more plant based foods since they are much lower in calories. We also improved the nutrient content by adding more fiber/vitamins/minerals/and antioxidants with increased fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
So, stop fad diets and start balancing your meals for lifelong weight loss!
© Meri Raffetto, 2004
Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian and a recognized professional in the area of nutrition and wellness. She has developed online weight management programs to help people get off of diets and get into way of life. For more information or to sign up for our free newsletter, visit www.reallivingnutrition.com.