Most people are aware that obesity contributes to some of the leading causes of preventable death: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. What many struggle with is how to manage their weight.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why can’t I lose weight? I don’t eat that much”? That may be true, but perhaps the foods you are eating are high in calories and fat. When it comes to managing the number you see on the scale, it’s the quality – or lack thereof – not the quantity of the foods you eat that will make the difference.
For example, an apple has about 100 calories versus a 300-calorie candy bar. Apples also pack plenty of nutrition that candy bars don’t. Two ounces of sliced turkey will give you the same amount of protein as two tablespoons of peanut butter at less than half the calories – and with no sugar. You could conceivably snack all day if you choose foods that are low in calorie, high in nutrition and satisfy your appetite.
The key to achieving permanent, healthy weight loss and maintaining a desirable weight is to gradually shed the pounds and eat a nutritious diet for life. Here are some suggestions to help you slowly transition to more healthy eating habits.
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▪ Find out how many calories your body requires for daily energy needs – and don’t exceed it. For adult women, a guideline is 10 calories multiplied by your desire weight. If you want to weigh 150 pounds you should consume no more than 1,500 calories per day. Men use a multiplier of 11. The exact number of calories will vary based on your activity level.
▪ Track your calories with a food journal, smart phone app or online program such as MyFitnessPal.com.
Make deliberate, healthy choices
▪ Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains
▪ Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
▪ Make fruit – not sweets – a dessert.
▪ Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk. They have the same amount of calcium and nutrients as whole milk with fewer calories and saturated fat.
▪ Choose whole wheat instead of white bread or brown rice in place of white rice.
▪ Don’t eat mindlessly. Pay attention to hunger cues and eat when your body tells you to.
▪ Eat slowly. You’ll enjoy your food more and allow your stomach to communicate to your brain that you have eaten enough.
▪ Eat until satisfied, not full.
▪ Read nutrition labels. Compare calories and sodium in foods.
▪ Processed foods (prepared and boxed foods)
▪ Foods and beverages high in fats, added sugar, and salt
▪ Chips and convenience foods
▪ Heavy creams and sauces
▪ Avoid oversized portions.
▪ Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses.
▪ Measure foods and count calories before you eat.
▪ When eating out, share a dish or take home part of your meal.
▪ Treat yourself occasionally but not every day.
▪ Limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
▪ Limit daily sodium intake to less than 2300 mg or 1500 mg if you are over 51 or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.
Don’t drink your calories
▪ Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories.
By making some of these minor changes, you can significantly decrease your calorie consumption, increase your nutrition, and achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Tara Katz is a family medicine physician at Via Christi Clinic on Andover Road.