- If you want to lose weight and be healthier, dieting may not be the best strategy.
- Making some gradual changes in what you eat may lead to better results in the long run.
- If you need a structure for success, a dietitian or eating program may be helpful to get you started.
Whether or not you’ve made a New Year’s resolution, chances are you’ve been thinking about being a little healthier in 2023.
That probably means going on a diet, right? not nessacary.
If you are looking for a temporary weight loss program, the diet may be the answer. But many experts instead suggest a moderation when it comes to eating—because this strategy is a step that can lead to a longer, healthier life.
By improving what you eat, you can lose weight and also avoid the yo-yo effect of weight loss and gain that can come with fad diets. An international study of 14 diets published in 2020 in BMJ British Medical Journal They found that the dieters lost weight after six months, but most regained the weight after a year.
said Mimi Secor, MD, a women’s health nurse practitioner and author “Health and fitness at any age.”
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I want to lose weight and eat healthy. What diet should I choose?
For starters, don’t think of it as a diet. “I coach my clients to replace the word ‘diet’, which is often seen as a temporary solution, with the term ‘healthy eating plan’ because it’s more sustainable,” said Ilana Paddock, a registered dietitian at The Cooper Clinic. Dallas, Texas.
The current popular diet is intermittent fasting, which mostly involves eating only during the 6-8 hours of the day. But a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found There is no relationship between meal timing and weight loss over six years.
However, fewer and smaller meals were associated with weight loss.
“In addition, skipping meals can lead to more hunger and cravings later, leading to overeating and making it difficult to make healthy food choices,” Paddock said. “In general, restrictive types of dietary approaches can lead to similar negative consequences.”
when you look at The best diets of 2023 from US News and World ReportThe top recommendations are “technically not a diet in the way we think of diets as something restrictive,” Gretel Schuyler, editorial director of health at US News, told USA TODAY. “It’s a way of life.”
What are some good diets to consider as better eating plans?
Mediterranean dietFocusing on vegetables, fruits, lean poultry, seafood, whole grains, nuts, and unsaturated fats from extra-virgin olive oil is “a really more adaptable style of eating,” said Schuyler.
“Diets that work well don’t restrict entire food groups or make you feel like you’re missing something. The best way to think of it is as an eating pattern,” Schuyler said.
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Two other top diets recommended in US News and World Report are The DASH Diet – It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop High Blood Pressure – Limit foods high in saturated fats, as well as sweetened beverages, and Flexitarian dieta semi-vegetarian diet that emphasizes non-meat proteins such as beans, peas, or eggs—plus fruits and vegetables—as a way to reduce meat intake.
Unlike the sodium restrictions on the DASH diet, these are “not restrictive and really about focusing on the things we know we should eat: whole foods, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc., and limiting candy and processed foods,” Schueller said.
What are some important factors to consider when choosing a diet or eating plan?
If a diet or eating plan is too restrictive, you are less likely to stick to it. Other important questions to ask before embarking on a new eating strategy include:
- Are any favorite foods not allowed?
- Are all food groups included? What does our cash budget allow?
- What about other family members?
“If you’re cooking for an entire family, but one person is eating differently than the rest of the people at the table, it’s not very sustainable,” Schuyler said. “The more complex a diet becomes, the less likely you are to stick with it long term.”
These diets that rank high on the US News and World Report list can serve as the foundation for a healthy, long-term eating plan. Each suggests limiting unhealthy foods and emphasizes portion control.
“Whatever you choose, it should consist of healthy foods and drinks — and allow for an occasional treat. That way you can stick with it,” Schuyler said.
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I don’t want to diet, but I do want to make some simple changes.
Start with small changes. Drink more water—ideally eight 8-ounce glasses a day—and start logging your food intake using an app like MyFitnessPal, Secor suggests.
“Or maybe you start going to bed 15 minutes earlier or start walking around the block every day,” she said. “Don’t try to change everything at once. You’ll feel overwhelmed and more likely to throw in the towel until next year.”
Pick one or two specific changes to focus on and go from there, Paddock said. Some suggestions:
- Replace white bread or white rice with whole wheat bread or brown rice (these contain more nutrients).
- Choose light popcorn instead of potato chips.
- Buy individual servings of nuts or snacks instead of large containers — or fill small snack bags to control the portion.
- Have fruit on hand instead of always choosing sweets or salty snacks.
- Use smaller plates and bowls so that portions are smaller.
- Eat lean proteins such as chicken or fish — or beans — when you eat red meat.
- After dinner, keep in mind that the kitchen is closed until morning.
“You can think of a baby-steps approach with healthy trade-offs and building one success upon another that not only leads to positive changes, but also motivates,” Paddock said.
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What if I need a stricter regimen?
- Find a registered dietitian. These nutritionists, Paddock said, “can be a valuable tool for designing a plan with you and guiding choices that best fit your needs and lifestyle.” You can find a nutritionist at Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
- Try the program. If you are not an experienced cook, maybe try a program like Weight WatchersAnd feeding system or optavia, which contains foods you can buy and guidelines to help with portions. “Some of these more structured commercial diets may work for[the person]even if it’s only for a limited time to jumpstart a healthy eating pattern,” Schuyler said.
- Get a physical trainer. Food is only part of a healthy lifestyle; Physical activity is another. But Schuyler said exercise is part of a “holistic approach…to the healthy lifestyle you choose.”
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