By Jeannie Gedeon, MPH, RDN/LDN, CAP/ICADC
While nutrition, fitness, and weight goals top the list of most common New Year resolutions, plans are often scrapped by the second week of January. Your best bet for getting to a healthy weight – and staying there – is to kick the diet mentality.
Cultivating good intensions is not easy – many people have unrealistic expectations, such as deciding to change eating patterns all at once or severely cutting calories for quick weight loss, which leads to deprivation-driven eating and may leave you feeling like you’ve failed. New eating patterns take time to achieve, especially when there is a long history of less-than-optimal eating habits.
Your sure-fire plan for success in 2018:
1. Receive expert guidance from a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. An RDN is a food and nutrition expert who has met national academic and professional requirements including a) earned a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND); b) completed at least 1,200 hours of supervised practice in clinical dietetics, community dietetics, and food-systems management. Your nutrition professional should also be an LDN (Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist), which means they are licensed to work in the State of Florida. RDN/LDNs maintain certification with substantial continuing education that is verified by these national and state licensing organizations. There are staggering amounts of erroneous nutrition information out there: To protect your health and investment, take care to hire an RDN/LDN with these legally-defined national and state credentials.
2. Think long-term. If you want to achieve your goals this time, get in the mindset of making a permanent life improvement rather than a temporary conviction. Having a detailed plan and monitoring your progress will increase your success rate. Goals should be reasonable and focused. Expect that obstacles, setbacks, and triggers will happen, such as not liking the diet you chose, plateaus, or having some kind of negative stress surface. Strategize for, modify, and cope with what isn’t working and what gets in your way, rather than going back to the old habits.
3. Focus on a healthier lifestyle. People who change their attitudes and feelings about food and exercise are the ones who keep nutrition and fitness goals long-term. When food has too much power over your life and self-image, too much thought is spent on eating, food, body, and weight (and you have more interesting things to think about!).
4. Nourish your body with carbohydrate, protein, and fat at each meal. Because of the different rates of digestion and absorption of these nutrients, this combination lengthens feelings of satiety (fullness) and avoids feelings
of deprivation and the urge to overeat.
5. Always eat breakfast. It prevents drops in blood sugar levels, which lead to poor food choices later in the day. Breakfast also jump starts your metabolism and helps start the day feeling like you’re taking care of yourself, setting a positive tone for the day.
6. Never restrict. This includes cutting too many calories, as well as skipping meals and snacks, which slows metabolism and leads to preoccupation with food. The best plan to get the metabolism furnace burning is to eat every
3 hours, making sure not to let more than 4 hours go by without eating. Undereating and waiting too long can zap energy and lead to overeating: To avoid this cycle, you need to feel comfortable and satisfied, not starving!
7. Eat your favorite foods in moderation. If you tell yourself you can never have cheesecake or French fries again, what happens? You have to have it! Find a way to work favorite foods into your diet, think proportion, and savor without guilt – having an occasional treat is not a character flaw.
8. Keep a food journal. Monitor your food intake by writing down when, what and how much you eat. With a tangible record of your food intake, it’s pretty easy to see where improvements can be made and helps you learn from experience.
9. Make fitness a permanent part of your life. Exercise is the strongest predictor of ability to lose excess weight, increase fitness, and maintain it. Commit to a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise to build muscle and optimize metabolism. Support the incentive by choosing activities you love (or at least look forward to). Keep in mind that exercise reduces stress and releases endorphins that make you feel better – which make you more likely to do other things to take care of yourself, such as eating nutritious foods.
10. Give yourself time. You didn’t become overweight overnight. Countless studies show that to keep excess weight off permanently, you should aim to lose no more than an average of 1 to 2 pounds/week. If you lose too quickly, your body will balk and try to recoup the loss (think homeostasis). Managing healthy weight, like any lasting habit, takes time. Devote time to health and fitness and your body will respond.
11. Reward yourself. As you attain your goals, indulge yourself just a little – buy the book you’ve been wanting to read, take a mini-vacation. Rewarding yourself with positive reinforcements will strengthen your resolve and increase your momentum.
Holiday Menu Comparison:
Choose the Healthy Way to Fill Your Holiday Plate
During holiday gatherings we often encounter many more food and drink options that we rarely see during the rest of the year. Making smart food choices will prevent overindulging and derailing your health and fitness plans. Notice the similarities and differences of 2 holiday menus below to see where a few small changes could make a big impact:
Traditional Holiday Dinner
3 pigs in blankets
crudités with dip
4 crackers with 2 oz. of cheese
handful of mixed nuts
1 pre-dinner cocktail
Healthy Holiday Dinner
crudités with fat-free yogurt dip
corn chips with bean dip and salsa
handful of Concord grapes
1 light beer or wine spritzer
1 cup salad with ranch dressing
3 oz. light and 3 oz. dark roasted turkey with skin
½-cup mashed potato
½-cup candied sweet potato with marshmallow topping
½-cup string bean casserole
¼-cup cranberry sauce
2 glasses white wine
1 cup salad with low-calorie dressing
3 oz. skinless roasted turkey breast
1/3-cup white potatoes mashed with nonfat sour cream and chives
¼-cup defatted gravy
1/3-cup steamed sweet potatoes flavored with apple cider and cinnamon
¾-cup roasted mixed vegetables
¼-cup light cranberry sauce
1 glass white wine
1 sliver pumpkin pie and pecan pie, each with a dollop of whipped cream
pumpkin pie filling in custard cup
½-cup Indian (corn) pudding
Remember that a holiday meal may have more food options than what you regularly eat for dinner, so it is OK to have more than your standard dinner. Considering most people should eat at least 1,800 calories a day, if you eat a light breakfast and lunch, you won’t go much over. To ensure that you stay in caloric maintenance, take a pre-dinner hike and/or post-dinner walk. Post-meal, resume your healthy holiday food and fitness game plan.
Jeannie Gedeon is a nutrition therapist who specializes in counseling for eating, body image and weight issues and is an expert in the treatment of eating disorders. She is a Florida Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (LDN) and Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN), the national credential by the Commission on Dietetic Registration/Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 1994. In addition, Jeannie is an addictions counselor (CAP/ICADC).
25 Seabreeze Avenue, Delray Beach