Did You Over Indulge During the Holiday Season? Slow and Steady Wins the Race!
Many of us did over indulge a bit over the holidays, I am sure. Now we are going through the “how do I get rid of the extra pounds” syndrome. While I am not a proponent of New Year’s Resolutions (I think any day can be a “new year”), maybe it is a good time to begin making some real lifestyle changes for better health.
A common lifestyle is yo-yo dieting. This is also known as weight cycling and is the practice of going on a strict diet to lose weight, then going off the diet once the goal is accomplished. However, many people who diet like this will see the pounds return, and often will gain more weight than they lost. This will then force them to diet again…lose weight…go off diet…gain weight…and the cycle continues.
Many research studies have shown that this type of dieting is not good for health or overall weight management. When you restrict your diet, your body recognizes this and enters a new metabolic state where your body is trying to protect itself from potential starvation. There are a number of hormones that regulate appetite, both positively and negatively, that change during this time. If your body sees that it is not getting as much food as it is used to, these hormones will kick in. This may be one of the reasons why weight gain reoccurs when the dieting ends. It takes the body some time to readjust to the increased food intake. A recent small study, not conclusive but worth another look, indicated that these metabolic changes may last even longer than previously thought.
Research also suggests that another negative factor related to yo-yo dieting is that it may lead to eating disorders. If one fixates too much on weight and wanting to lose weight, this could lead them to developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. This is particularly a problem among young girls, but the problem is growing in males and other age groups.
So is “dieting” the answer? No! Most nutrition and health professionals recommend a lifestyle change for health rather than periodic dieting. Research shows that slow and steady weight loss is more likely to be lasting weight loss.
While weight management is indeed more complicated, on a basic level it depends on calories in vs. calories out. In other words, we need to balance how much food we eat with how much physical activity we get. This is different for each individual and one should seek out valid research based information for their specific needs.
However, in general there are some things that each person can do to begin making these healthy lifestyle changes. Here are some ideas:
Use smaller plates. This will help you cut back on your portion sizes.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fresh is best!
- Eat more whole grain foods rather than processed. Whole grain contains more fiber and this can help you lose weight.
- Cut back on added sugar and fat, and try switching to lower fat dairy products. If you sweeten your tea, try using a little less, if you can’t go cold turkey on sugar. Try the same with butter or margarine. Just put a little less on your toast. Making small changes, over time, can lead to bigger changes.
- If you snack, think about better choices like fruit or low salt/fat popcorn.
- A big one that we may not always think about is nibbling! A bite of something may not contain many calories, but several bites throughout the day can add up.
Following these suggestions could mean decreasing your daily intake by 200-500 calories fairly easily. This could translate to a few pounds lost in a month, which is a good start. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race!