Dieting not always the best way to lose weight

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HARTFORD – On New Year’s Eve, 21 percent of Americans resolved to lose weight or improve their eating habits, more than any other resolution. Weight loss is difficult and a year later many people find that they did not meet their goal.

Almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight and this brings with it a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Making a resolution that can make you feel better, live longer, and save you money on prescription drugs is definitely worth it and losing just 10 pounds and keeping it off this year can dramatically improve your health. Weight loss is difficult to achieve and keeping it off is also an ongoing challenge because unlike smoking or gambling, you cannot just go cold turkey and stop eating forever. You have to eat several times a day and tempt yourself with a substance that you are addicted to and have to fight the urge to overdo it.

Don’t diet – change the way you look at food and relate to food.

  1. If you are not hungry, don’t eat. How many people are card-carrying members of the Clean Plate Club? Our society’s food culture began in the great depression where you don’t waste food so if it is there, you are praised for eating it. The truth is if you are satisfied and continue to eat because it is there, IT IS STILL WASTED and you are less healthy as a result. You may find that you throw out more food initially if you and your family adhere to this rule but over time, you will make less because you will learn you don’t need that much food.
  2. Eating junk food requires two failures in the process, the first is when you buy it and the second is when you eat it. If you win the first battle and don’t buy it, you don’t have to fight the second battle.
  3. Periodic mild hunger is not horrible, it is necessary. You have to make your peace with mild hunger as it is the best barometer that you are being successful. Our society makes hunger out to be the worst thing that anyone should ever experience but it simply is just a normal biologic process.
  4. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is a marathon, not a sprint. Losing a couple of pounds a month and keeping them off is much better than losing 12 pounds through severe dieting over two weeks and then gaining it all back by the end of the month. Slow, methodical weight loss trains your body to expect the right amount of food so you can maintain it thereafter. It can take 3 to 6 months to truly retrain your body.
  5. If you fail today, don’t quit. You cannot always succeed and sometimes the temptations are just too great. But you have to get back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.
  6. Let your friends and loved ones know you are dieting and ask them for help. The act of saying it out loud and asking for help establishes some additional accountability.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Dieticians have a world of knowledge to help you design an eating plan that is healthy and can work for you. Don’t be afraid to get their insight if you need it.
  8. If you can stand up to yourself today, it will be easier to do it tomorrow and the next day. Every victory over yourself strengthens your resolve and makes you feel more in control of your destiny.

To everyone out there struggling with their weight, this time try to change your eating habits in a slow sustainable way with the understanding that you are doing it for a lifetime.

 – Dr. Michael White from the UConn School of Pharmacy