Two dieticians were asked by a functional food site to do more than just offer - eat less, exercise more; steer clear of fast food and french fries. Though Americans have heard these mantras time and again, obesity rates indicate that many of us are failing miserably in maintaining our health. Suzanne Dixon and Dave Ellis, two registered dieticians, presented the following tips as their collective "do it right in 2009 and beyond:"
1- America has a toxic food environment - so unless you are fully committed to healthy eating, you will not pull it off. There are many, many temptations.
2- Get real - it takes hard and daily work to attain and then maintain a healthy weight. And as we get older, it gets harder for most people. You are typically not unique.
3- Reading food labels is not the key - though being nutritionally informed is a good habit - we all know that an apple, fat free milk and carrots are superior choices to most processed foods. We know what's good for us.
4- Don't drink calories - with the exception of a serving of 100% fruit juice and occasional wine - water, unsweetened tea and a serving or two of fat free milk daily should be our primary beverages.
5- Understand balance - the expert dieticians offer that even a vigorous walk around the block a couple of times, will not burn off a fried chicken dinner. We consistently overestimate our exercise and underestimate our calories.
6- Get tuned in - Eating for reasons other than hunger (which most people do - or they identify hunger when it's emotional hunger) contributes to weight problems. Consider getting help if you struggle with this one.
7- If you eat when bored/frustrated/anxious/depressed - then you need help from a dietician. And if those emotions provoke binge eating, then you especially need help from professionals.
8- Choose the right goals - people who decide to lose weight with the goals of better health or increased energy/productivity actually tend to do better than people who just "diet to look better."
9- Eat with regularity - most people do better if they eat 3 balanced meals and 2 small snacks daily. Going more than 3-4 hours without eating can set you up for difficulties.
10- Know that the fit work at it - though some people are blessed, most people who maintain their body wieght and physical abilities really work at it. Stop the pity and start the effort to work towards those goals, realizing that it can take longer than you anticipate.
11- Everyone can get healthier - by engaging in some physical acitivity daily and in choosing wisely when they eat. Even if weight loss is challenging, you can still get healthier.
12- Get to sleep - studies show that less than 7 hours of sleep nightly can increase cortisol production and that can spur hunger.
13- Fast food is addicitive - your brain's pleasure centers are stimulated to crave fast food and highly processed food if you have eaten it with some regularity. It can take a huge effort to reverse those cravings and desires - even years. If you find you are struggling with occasional "treats" you may be the kind of person who has to "avoid entirely."