Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great article about weight loss by Melanie Polk: don't count calories; make your calories count.

Make your calories count

By Melanie Polk, M.M.Sc., R.D., F.A.D.A.

Fad diets come and go. But, the pounds they send packing often come back — sometimes with a few of their buddies.

There's a reason for this. It's difficult to stick with an eating plan that's too strict or limits variety. After days of nothing but rice cakes and lemon water, you're bound to crave a bacon double cheeseburger or a gooey hot fudge sundae. And, that's the kind of hunger attack that can make you give up on all your good intentions.

If this sounds familiar, here's some diet information you can finally sink your teeth into: Instead of counting your calories, make your calories count.

For many people, feeling deprived and hungry is what dooms a diet. But, in general, it's the amount or type of food you eat — not the number of calories — that makes you feel full.

The power of produce
All foods can have a place on your plate. But, certain nutritious foods fill you up and may have fewer calories, naturally. At the same time, you'll give your body the nutrients it needs to function at its best.

Foods with plenty of water and fiber fit the bill. You know them from the produce aisle: fruits and vegetables. Both supply vitamins, minerals and other good-for-you substances. And, both are typically low in calories. Well, that's if fruit isn't on top of ice cream, and veggies aren't breaded, fried, creamed or covered in butter.

Subtract before adding
One word of caution: You don't want to just add more fruits and veggies to what you're eating already. The key is to substitute them for higher-calorie foods.

At breakfast: Put a little less cereal in your bowl. Make room for a sliced banana or a handful of blueberries.

At lunch: Hold the cheese and part of the meat from your sandwich. Add lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, onion or green pepper instead.

At snack time: Replace chips from the vending machine with a cut-up apple smeared with a little peanut butter.

At dinner: Cut back on portions of meat. Instead, make veggies the main event. Enjoy a hearty bean soup. Or, fix a quick veggie stir-fry with a few strips of chicken breast and served over brown rice.

A plan for life
As you add more fruits and vegetables to your meals, don't think of it as a diet. Consider it a new way of life — one you'll likely prefer given time. And, remember: Produce alone doesn't provide all the nutrients you need. So, add balance with sensible portions of whole grains, lean meats, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, nuts and beans.

Combine this way of eating with regular exercise,* and you can be on your way to losing a healthful 1 to 2 pounds a week. Best of all, you'll be doing it with eating habits that aren't hard to swallow. And, exercise is good for your overall health, too.

*For safety's sake, talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your level of physical activity.

Melanie Polk is a registered dietitian who specializes in educating consumers with simple strategies for better health. She has more than 20 years of experience in nutrition and cancer prevention, nutrition for seniors, and is a Fellow of the American Dietetic Association. She has been a nutrition consultant with OptumHealth for more than a decade.

Posted via email from michaelpaul's posterous