Cheating – on your taxes, on a test, on your partner – is just plain wrong. And chances are, even if you were to consider cheating, you probably wouldn’t ask for permission from your accountant or your teacher…or your mate. So why are people always asking me if it’s “okay to cheat” on their diet? Does it feel “good” to be “bad”? Do they want to place the blame on my shoulders if their cheating doesn’t lead to weight loss? Or are they simply saying, “I just can’t be this strict with myself every single day – I need a break!”
Posts tagged: diet ideas
January is all about resolutions and “turning over a new leaf”. So all this month, we’re talking about the big nutritional benefits you can get from making just a few small changes. Now let’s take a look at ways you can start to eat less without leaving your tummy grumbling.
We started with little adjustments you can make when you’re buying food, and in the last post I suggested some ways in which you could make changes in the way you prepare your foods to shave calories and make them healthier. You might already be reaping some benefits if you’ve been trying to make these changes – and you may even be thinking that there isn’t a whole lot more tweaking you can do. Maybe you haven’t given it much thought, but a little fine-tuning in the way your foods are served can also affect your food intake, too.
Do you remember the New Year’s resolutions you made last year? Let me guess…. if you’re like most people, you probably vowed to eat better, get more exercise – and maybe floss more often. So, looking back, how did it go? Did you accomplish all you set out to do? Or, did you start the year out strong – then fall back on your old patterns, so that you’re making the same resolutions again this year? This may surprise you, but I think that’s okay – and here’s why. If you make the decision every January to shape up, it says that taking better care of yourself is important to you. If it weren’t important, you wouldn’t keep working at it. And just because you make the same promises to yourself every year, it doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t accomplish anything last year.
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Let’s say you’re my client. It’s the first time we meet, and we’re talking about your eating habits. As you’re telling me what you usually eat and when, you mention that there’s something you do that you probably shouldn’t… you always eat a snack right before you go to bed. You expect me to tell you that it’s a habit you should break, but before I weigh in on the subject, I’ll want to know more. What do you eat? How much? Are you eating because you’re hungry? Or is it just a habit? And, if you don’t eat before you go to sleep, what happens? Once I’ve got a better picture of your nighttime noshing, I’m in a better position to say if it’s right or wrong.
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 »
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.
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and eager to get your weight under control. Having the desire and the drive to meet your goal is half the battle in getting there. But recognize that trying to do too much, too quickly could be your undoing. Be realistic about how much you can change at once, and accept whatever those changes deliver in terms of weight loss.