Three Tips for Healthy Weight Loss
The key to healthy weight loss is to implement a “triangle” of lifestyle changes – limiting unhealthy food options in favor of nutritious choices, managing portion control and increasing exercise, says Mills-Peninsula registered dietitian Donna deKay.
Making lifestyle changes stick is easier said than done. Here are three simple tips to achieve success:
Keep a food diary. The first step, deKay says, is to find out where your weight issues come from by tracking your eating behaviors – how much, when and why you eat – for three to five days. “Are you skipping breakfast? Do you snack mid-day? Are you grazing in the fridge after dinner? If so, why?” she says. “Identifying environmental and emotional triggers will help you uncover unhealthy eating patterns.”
With a food diary, most people can quickly identify their main problem areas, she points out. And studies have shown that people who write down their daily eating habits lose more weight than those who don’t. “But they may still need coaching from a nutritionist or dietitian on how to make better choices and set realistic goals,” deKay says.
Follow an established eating plan. Once you’ve identified areas you need to change, it’s often easier to make dietary changes using a clearly defined strategy. There are many to choose from, including Paleo, Atkins, Zone, Mediterranean and South Beach. Do some research and decide which plan is best for you based on your eating preferences.
Customize. Mills-Peninsula primary care physician Lisa Hladik, M.D., suggests choosing components from diet plans that seem balanced and healthy, and adapting them to work for you. “Pick the strategy that is closest to the foods you naturally enjoy so every meal doesn’t feel like work or deprivation,” Dr. Hladik says. “If you love rice and potatoes, don’t attempt the low-carb Atkins diet. If you love chicken and fish, don’t go vegan.”
One of the reasons commercial programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig often work well, she says, is because you get to pick the foods you like. “Remember, it’s not a ‘diet,’ it’s a lifestyle change,” she continues. “So it needs to be sustainable to be successful.”