Eating Better

Most of appreciate the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, but effectively losing
weight is an enigma. It shouldn’t be that complicated, given the tsunami of weight loss plans
and products we see advertised in the media. What is particularly frustrating is when weight
loss quickly leads to weight regained. Why is it so hard to shed a few pounds and keep them
off?

Deep breath here. The reason many diet plans fail is because they focus on not eating rather
than eating well. Bariatric surgical procedures aside, most diet plans promising rapid, dramatic
weight loss are doomed from the start. Your body needs food. Maintaining a healthy weight
depends on eating a healthy diet, a concept that runs counter to the Western diet many of us
are accustomed to.

 

 

An added challenge is finding strategies for healthy eating on the go, since many drive-through
restaurants serve energy dense (high calorie) foods that are modest at best on nutrition. If you
look at the USDA’s MyPlate website, you will see that half of the plate is filled with fruits and
vegetables. Following this plan is a great first step towards a healthier diet and gradual weight
reduction.

Framing this as a SMART goal, a first step might be: adding two servings of fruits and vegetables
(specific, measurable, and relevant) to your daily intake for two weeks (time bound). There are
various strategies for making this attainable. One I like is to bring fruit and vegetables to work
as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. Fruits and vegetables are complex carbohydrates,
meaning that they take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates such as candy and sugared
soft drinks. They provide your body with a good source of energy that can help with mid-day
fatigue, and equally important, avoid buying unhealthy snacks out of the vending machine.

To make this more affordable, buy what’s in season. Here in Arizona, the citrus trees are full of
fruit right now, so lemons, oranges and grapefruits are in abundance. If you can’t find what
you’re looking for at the grocery store, try the local farmer’s market.

In addition to MyPlate, EatRight, the website for the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, is a
great source of information about nutrition, meal planning and recipes for healthy eating.
Nina Russin, a veteran journalist for over 30 years, is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at
Arizona State University College of Health Solutions.

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