By Christine Zellers, MPP, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Family & Community Health Sciences
The word diet can mean a way of eating to be healthy and maintain a healthy weight, or it can mean a way of eating that reduces calories or specific foods. A diet that reduces calories or a specific food is generally only done for a short period of time to obtain a certain result. Eating a healthy diet, means a way of life that is consistent and maintainable. A fad diet has certain tell-tale clues that it is a fad and that it will not be easy to maintain for a long period of time. Falling prey to trendy diets can make it hard to maintain a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle. Creating habits that last is the key to overall longevity and disease prevention.
To lose weight and keep it off it is important to realize healthy eating habits are not a short-term fix but rather a way of life. Realize that feeling good is important, not just looking good. Think about the benefits of maintaining a healthy eating pattern like, good blood pressure, good cholesterol and preventing or controlling type II diabetes. Eat to reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease or to get more energy and sleep better. Quality of life now and in the future is the best reason to try to create an eating pattern that prevents disease and makes movement easy for years to come.
The diet industry totals 66 Billion dollars annually in the US, its big business. Avoid the pit falls of the diet industry and know how to identify a fad diet. A tell-tale sign of a fad diet is elimination of a food group. To get all the nutrients needed for best health, all five food groups should be consumed at each meal including diary, vegetables, grains, protein, and fruits. Quick weight loss is another indicator of a fad diet. A promise of more than 1-2 pounds per week of weight loss is not going to be easy to continue long-term. If a diet promotes no need for exercise, watch out because it is a fad. The recommendation from the USDA for movement is 150 minutes per week with two additional days that include weight bearing exercise. Physical activity is an important part of a well-maintained body. If a diet claims portions are not important, it is misleading as well. Overeating, even a good food, can provide too much energy (or calories) for the body to burn. Make sure the eating plan is science-based. The KETO diet has research dating back to the 1920’s but much of the effectiveness of the diet is shown to be for pediatric epilepsy. The USDA is a scientifically based resource that offers eating patterns American’s can maintain, visit MyPlate.gov to get more information.
New Year’s resolutions are often broken because the goal far exceeds the reality of the resolution. To conquer a resolution to be healthier or lose weight, start slow. Remember, not to diet but rather undertake steps to healthy living for life. Always consult a doctor before starting a new eating pattern or exercise. Begin with adding small changes each week, too much at once can be stressful. Try breathing or meditation, take some time during the day to just be still and quiet to reduce stress. Reflect on how great the changes feel like, improved mood, greater flexibility, or heightened energy levels. Find fun ways to move and keep active so that movement is something to look forward to rather than avoid. Get a good night’s sleep, go to bed, and wake up on a regular schedule to establish sleep patterns. Try to stay positive and keep a good outlook, avoid negative self-talk. Making small changes over time will contribute to a better quality of life.