Doctors and the media seem very much aligned regarding one thing these days: obesity is common in America, it is serious, and it poses a huge financial burden on our health system. Over one third of adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and although we are more aware than ever of the dangers of obesity – including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and many types of cancer – it seems that losing weight, and keeping it off, is as elusive as it is desired.
For long-term weight loss, it is important to avoid common pitfalls and to understand the importance of feeding body, mind and soul or wholesome, home-cooked meals. If you are at a loss regarding how to prepare delicious, nutritious, diet-friendly food that your whole family will enjoy, make sure to check out some top-notch options on 1001Recipes2Send.com.
Avoid Fad Diets
Gimmicky fad diets abound; one of the most drastic (and unhealthy) appeared in vogue way back in the 1980s. Called the HEBO diet, it involved consuming seven hot dogs on Day One, seven eggs on Day Two (bless our cholesterol levels!), seven bananas on Day Three, and seven oranges on Day Four. Diets that severely restrict our caloric intake just don’t work in the long-term. You may lose quite a few pounds after various cycles of a HEBO-style diet, but imagine the nutritional havoc you are wreaking on your internal organs, by depriving them of the nutrients they need to function optimally.
Good food is one of life’s great pleasures; thankfully, very few people are actually able to sacrifice their wants and needs in this area. At any rate, research shows that two diets that actually work, are the Mediterranean diet (comprising healthy lean proteins, plenty of seasonal fruit and veg, Omega-3-rich nuts and cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil) and the vegetarian diet. One recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that dieters who opt for a vegetarian lifestyle not only lose more weight than those on conventional low-cal diets, but also improve their metabolism by reducing muscle fat.
Be Wary of Meal Substitutions
The ‘health sections’ of our local supermarkets are filled with meal replacement items – shakes, chocolate bars, crackers, in all flavours and shapes. Somehow, they don’t fill you up as they promise, leading to hunger and bingeing on the wrong kinds of food. Invest at least half an hour a day to prepare your meals, using seasonal, organic produce and good protein sources. Chefs like Jamie Oliver have made it clear that there is no excuse to purchase pre-cooked, refined or pre-packaged food, when you can whip up a meal fit for a king or queen in a flash.
Don’t Starve during the Day
One of the worst dieting mistakes is avoiding breakfast and lunch, and bingeing when you get home or ingesting the majority of your caloric intake, by night. Consuming three to five smaller meals a day will ensure you do not suffer from the cravings which can arise when glucose levels drop too low. Having a light meal at night will help you sleep – an important factor considering that poor sleep is linked to obesity.
Avoid Laxatives and Detox Teas
When you are consuming enough fibre through fruits and vegetables, it should not be necessary to take laxatives or detox teas. Although many of these products are promoted as weight loss aids, they actually do not help eliminate fat. Any weight lost with these methods can be attributed to water loss and and more frequent bowel movements.
Diet Soda can Make You Fat
When you are on a diet, it can feel like the one ‘treat’ you actually enjoy, is can of freezing cold diet soda. However, these beverages can actually interfere with your weight loss plans, making you feel justified in eating more or leading to a craving for sweet foods. The most recent meta-study into the effect of artificial sweeteners shows that they do not help in managing weight.
While it can be hard to break bad habits, making a real change in terms of weight loss and maintenance, involves doing just that – giving up the ‘treats’ and habit that are doing far more harm to our health than we realize. By sticking to a commonsense eating plan, avoiding diet drinks and fad products and exercising daily, we can stop dreaming and start living the good life.
About the Author:
Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.