When most of us decide that it’s time to lose some weight, our first thought is to reduce the amount of food that we eat daily. If we eat less than what our body needs each day, our excess fat should be utilized to make up the difference and we will lose weight.
Unfortunately, losing weight is never that simple. It’s nearly impossible to just change portion size, skip a meal or replace a meal with a fruit or diet substitute and not be hungry. The key to successful weight loss is eating less of the high sugar and fat content foods and more of the healthier kind. Exercise is also part of any dieting program.
Fad Dieting Versus Contemporary, Realistic Dietary Changes
The reason that fad diets are so appealing is that they offer simple solutions to weight problems and tell you how to lose weight quickly and easily without making any changes to your lifestyle or eating habits. There are pills to boost your metabolism to burn fat rapidly. There are diet drinks to replace foods. Turn on the TV, read a magazine or surf the internet and you will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of weight loss products on the market today.
Diet programs and pills promise the following:
- Lose weight instantly
- Lose weight while you sleep
- Eat and still lose weight
- Lose weight without exercise
- Keep the weight off permanently
- Lose weight and feel great with no side effects
- And on and on
You know how these schemes work. Pair up the product with a picture of an attractive young woman in a bikini as an endorsement and many dieters will buy it. Fad diets may be unhealthy because you are not getting all of the nutrients your body needs. And that’s not to even mention that many simply do not work.
Although losing 10 pounds in 10 days sounds appealing to dieters, losing more than 3 pounds a week may increase your risk for developing gallstones. So even if they do work, they may be quite dangerous for you. Diets with less than 800 calories per day could bring on heart rhythm abnormalities, which can be fatal.
Let’s look at some dietary changes you can make as part of your diet.
Easy Dietary Changes to Make
- Go easy on the junk food: When you eat junk food, you get little in the way of calcium, protein, vitamins and iron. Eating junk foods and processed foods will cause your sodium levels to rise. This causes bloating and can lead to vision and cardiovascular problems.
- Cut out the fried foods: Most of us love fried foods, but too much fat in your diet will raise your blood cholesterol levels and cause plaque to form in your arteries. This can lead to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart disease. Instead of trying to eliminate all fat from your diet use fats derived from plants (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). This will help lower your cholesterol levels. Too much protein in your diet is not good either. You will become tired more quickly after meals because protein takes a long time to digest. Too much protein can lead to high cholesterol or calcium loss from the bone, promoting osteoporosis or gout. High-protein diets may also strain your kidneys and liver.
- Add balance to your diet: You don’t have to live on nothing but bread and water for your diet to work. You need to eat nutritious foods with a balance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. There are lots of substitutes for the foods you should avoid. Instead of fatty meats, you can eat lean meats, such as fish or chicken. Salads and vegetables should be a big part of your diet. Things don’t have to taste bland, but salt intake should be limited. Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. Avoid sugary drinks. Instead of candies, try fruit. The natural sugar in fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth. Vitamin supplements should be discussed with your physician.
- Pay attention to prep: Food preparation is important. You will have to cut back significantly on fried foods. Try grilling, broiling, baking or stewing your meats. This way you get the most nutritional and the least empty calories. There are dozens of food shows on TV. Watch and learn. Many shows will discuss the preparation of wholesome foods and expand the range of foods that you can eat.
For some, it is not easy or convenient to prepare balanced nutritious meals. You may want to investigate buying prepared meals at your super market or using a service that delivers them to your home. Some diet programs offer their own menu of prepared meals.
The content and cost varies on the diet program you are enrolled in. Costs are somewhat less if you use their bulk purchase option. It’s a good idea to make sure that you can customize your own menu and only order the meals you prefer. A variety of pre-prepared meals are distributed by Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers.
Your diet will work only if you are accountable to yourself. Keep a food diary to record your successes and non-successes alike. If you see that eating fewer fried foods and less junk foods results in losing weight, you have learned a valuable lesson. Be your own food policeman.
Eliminate unhealthy foods in your cupboard and replace them with nutritional ones. You can also join a support group. It helps to have someone you can talk to 24/7 who understands your problem. They can give you tried and true advice. In time, you’ll learn how to control your eating habits and weight loss will become easier and more permanent.