“They call me the vacuum cleaner!” one of my patients told me recently. He’s been a fast eater his entire life. “I grew up with six brothers and sisters – so, counting my folks, there were nine of us at the dinner table,” he told me. “As soon as mom put the food down, we’d all scramble to get our share, and then eat it up as fast as we could – because the fastest eater had the best chance of getting a second helping before it was all gone!” Even though he no longer has nine people at his dinner table, those old eating habits die hard. This guy can still demolish a plate of food in seconds flat.
Posts tagged: best diet
One key to maintaining a healthy weight is to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn. But that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Balancing your calories sounds deceptively simple. Eat more calories than you burn and you’ll gain weight. Take in fewer calories than you burn and you’ll shed some pounds. Keep your “calories in” and “calories out” about the same, and your weight should stay pretty stable. So why is it that hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t complain to me that they’re “exercising like a madman, but not losing any weight” or, “eating like a bird but the scale won’t budge”? It simply boils down to this: when it comes to counting calories accurately – the ones you eat and the one you spend – there are so many ways it can go wrong.
One of the more entertaining aspects of my work is that whenever I meet a new weight loss client, I never know where the conversation will lead. Usually, I’ll start by getting some history – I want to know what’s the most and the least they’ve ever weighed, what motivates them to eat better and get into shape, and also what’s worked for them in the past and what hasn’t – that sort of thing. From there, I can start to get a sense for how much effort each particular patient is willing to put forth, and what their expectations are. And then we come up with a plan. But I can’t just tell someone what they need to do – I need to help them figure out how they’re going to do it, too. And we work together to figure out what’s going to work best for them.
“I work out so hard,” she told me. “I follow my diet to the letter, and it’s a battle just to lose a couple of pounds in a month. But my boyfriend – even if he cheats on his diet a little bit – still experiences weight loss week after week. It’s just not fair!”
Fair or not, that’s just the way it is. But why? Why do men tend to lose more quickly than women? Read more »
Seasoned dieters know plenty of the tricks for keeping their eating in check. Beyond the usual strategies - eating right, getting plenty of exercise and maybe keeping a food diary – they might use more subtle tactics for keeping portions down. They’ll use smaller plates or taller glasses, for instance, to give the illusion that they’re getting more food and drink than they really are. They’ll make sure to put tempting foods out of sight – and keep healthy ones in plain view. What they may not realize is that there are other influences in the environment – much less obvious ones – that could still throw their eating off course. Read more »
It seems to me there are two extremes when it comes to meal planning. There are people who never plan – the ones who prefer to “wait and see” what they feel like eating. They’re also the ones who, understandably, don’t have much discipline when it comes to sticking to a diet plan. On the other hand, there are those whose meal planning is just a tad too routine.
When I was in high school, my best friend’s mom stuck to the same menu week after week – Monday was chicken, Tuesday was spaghetti… you get the idea. The only time I’d accept an invitation for dinner was on Sunday – or, “surprise night”. Somewhere in between these extremes, though, lies a healthy approach to meal planning that doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming. So if your idea of meal planning means choosing between sausage or pepperoni on your pizza, listen up – here are some pointers that might help. Read more »
People have different reasons for wanting to shape up – finding out what motivates you can help you stay on track.
There’s no doubt about it – change is hard. I frequently tell my clients that my job is much easier than theirs – my role is to advise them on how to eat better, while they’ve got the more difficult task of having to actually do it. But my job doesn’t stop at simply handing out advice – I also try to help people find what it is that will motivate them to make changes. And the reasons are all over the map. For some, just the goal of getting healthier is all it takes to kick start the process. On the other hand, that probably won’t motivate the ones who tell me (and I’ve heard this more times than I can count), “I’m perfectly healthy, I’m just fat.” Read more »
Sorting out the Fats.
Good fats, bad fats – the proper balance is key.
The nutrition story around fats used to be pretty simple: saturated fats were the bad guys, and polyunsaturated fats were the good guys. But the story has gotten a bit more complicated; now we’re talking about getting the right balance of fats – two kinds of polyunsaturated fats in particular, omega-3 and omega-6.
First, a little terminology. The terms ‘omega-3’ and ‘omega-6’ refer to the chemical structure of the fatty acid, and there are several omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that we eat, not just one. And it’s not that either of these groups of fats is bad – in fact, within each group there are ‘essential’ fatty acids – ones we need to eat, because our bodies can’t make them. In small amounts – and in the right balance – essential fatty acids serve to support growth, vision and brain function. Read more »
- Fruits and vegetables offer up natural plant compounds that help keep the body healthy, and variety is key.
If you’re not a big fan of vegetables, you might think that you can make up for it by eating lots of fruit. It’s easy to see why – we almost always mention them in the same breath (“eat plenty of fruits and veggies!”) and, since they’re healthy plant foods, it’s natural to assume that they’re more or less interchangeable in terms of providing the nutrients the body needs. Read more »
It’s amazing how just a handful of small changes to everyday habits can add up to big rewards. I’ve mentioned before that when someone tells me they’re ready for a major diet and lifestyle overhaul, I usually tell them to proceed with caution. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, when you try to make too many changes at once, you run the risk of …if you’ll excuse the pun… biting off more than you can chew. And, I think that once you’re successful at making a change – no matter how small – it gives you the confidence to keep going, and to keep chipping away at new challenges. On top of that, just a handful of small changes to your everyday habits can add up to bigger reward than you might think. Read more »
I’ll never forget a patient I had many years ago. I was taking a diet history from her, and asked her what she usually ate in the morning. “Oh, just some tea, and bread with jam”. For lunch? “Another cup of tea, and bread with jam.” Same for her afternoon snack. And the same for dinner, too – except she’d add a piece of grilled chicken. She knew how to cook, and she told me that finances weren’t an issue. So why such a limited diet? “Well,” she said, “I just really like bread with jam.” Read more »
Even though I’m a dietitian, my clients frequently ask me about exercise as part of their weight loss plan.
Since managing weight effectively depends on calorie balance, it makes sense that we talk about not only diet (calories in), but exercise (calories out), too. Most simply want to know how much…or, sometimes, how little…exercise they need to do in order to lose weight, or to keep off weight that they’ve already lost. So here are some of the key things I tell them about exercise and body weight: Read more »
One of my long-standing patients has lost 150 pounds. Now, before you start thinking, “Wow – that’s a lot of weight” or “Gee – I wonder how she did that?”, let me just say that she didn’t lose it all at once. In fact, she’s lost the same 30 pounds five times now. She’s a classic “yo-yo dieter” – her weight goes up and down, but rarely stays in one place for long. It’s long been recognized that people are more likely to yo-yo when they adopt weight loss regimens that are too strict to stick with over the long haul. Once a dietary slip turns into a fall, old habits resume, weight goes back up and the cycle starts all over again. Read more »
Most of the time, I would never argue with someone who wanted to eat as well as possible. After all, part of a dietitian’s job is to encourage people to eat healthy foods and to help them find ways to nudge their current eating habits in the right direction. But sometimes I run across people who carry proper nutrition to the extreme; they have an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food.
Perhaps you know people like this. They pride themselves on their flawless eating habits, and look down upon others who don’t display a similar iron will. They spend most of their time planning, preparing, and eating perfect meals. Every food is chosen solely for its nutritional virtue. And, to many who seek the perfect diet plan, the more virtuous the diet, the more honorable the person who eats it.