Healthy Eating is Easier than You Think
Diet plans high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates may be popular for rapid weight loss, but some of them may pose serious health risks. These diets place an emphasis on saturated fat, while removing nutrients that are critical for a healthy long-term diet. Successful, permanent weight loss depends on limiting energy consumed (calories) and increasing energy expenditure (exercise and daily activity).
Fasting may result in rapid weight loss, but this can lead to loss of lean muscle mass as well. All liquid diets must be medically supervised and may be used for a short period of time for people who are obese; these diets are not a long-term answer to weight loss. Fad diets and fasting are usually not medically proven or healthy options for weight loss. In fact, fad diets are more likely to result in regaining weight — often called the yo-yo effect. Any extreme form of dieting that is not supervised by a doctor can cause damage to your body.
Below are dietary recommendations that, if followed, will lead to permanent weight loss:
- To lose weight and keep it off, begin thinking about an individualized eating plan instead of a diet. A plan tailored to personal likes and dislikes will have a better chance of producing sustainable weight loss. A balanced diet that is restricted in calories — 1200 to 1400 calories for women and 1500 to 1800 calories for men — may work well. A registered dietitian can help create an individualized diet plan based on your particular needs.
- Include a variety of foods in your diet.
- All fats are not bad. It is now known that polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats provide health benefits for your heart. Nuts, seeds, and some types of oils, such as olive, safflower and canola oils, have a place in a healthy eating plan.
- Choose whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread, rather than white rice and white bread. Whole grain foods are rich in nutrients compared to more processed products. They are higher in fiber and, therefore, are absorbed by the body more slowly. They do not cause a rapid spike in insulin, which can trigger hunger and cravings.
- Drink plenty of water — at least 48 to 64 ounces a day. Water helps curb cravings and flush toxins from your body. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol because these cause dehydration.
- Include a multivitamin as part of your daily routine. Although healthy eating will increase your nutrient intake, it is often difficult to get all of your nutrition from food alone. Also, some vitamins — such as the B vitamins and vitamin C — help your body convert food into energy.
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Make your plate colorful and eat a variety because all contain different amounts and types of nutrients.
- When dining out or ordering take-out food, ask for a take-home box and avoid super-size selections. Many restaurant portions are too large for one person, so consider sharing an entrée or ordering an appetizer instead of a main dish.
- Read food labels carefully and pay particular attention to the number of servings contained in the product as well as the individual serving size. Food packaging can be tricky. For example, if the label on a can of soup says a serving is 225 calories but also lists two servings per container, eating the whole can of soup doubles the number of calories to 450 (along with doubling the listed amount of sodium and fat).