The new year is here, and many of my patients — and likely many of you — have made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. A lot of you are probably trying fad diets to shed some pounds. I urge you to avoid these diets. They may appeal to you as a simple way to lose weight, but recent studies have shown that such diets are unsustainable in the long-term. They s can also bring about awful side effects including fatigue, nausea, dehydration, headaches, and even chronic illnesses such as heart disease
Scientific literature suggests that lifelong changes in diet and lifestyle might be the best approach to maintaining a healthy weight for the long term. But changing your diet is hard without a structured program. Here are five of my top tips to start transitioning to a healthy lifestyle that will reduce your risk of chronic diseases and slim your waistline:
1. Watch your portions. That goes even for healthy food. For example, a serving of nuts is one-quarter cup. A trick I recommend is putting your healthy snacks in Ziplocs bags — one serving per bags. And use your hand to measure your portions. What do I mean by that?
Here are some rules of “thumb” to use:
• A fist equals 1 Cup (common fruits = 1 fruit serving/2 fists for salad leaves = 1 veggie serving)
• The palm of your hand equals 3 oz. (your meat servings should be this size)
• The tip of your thumb= 1Tbsp (1-2 of these for peanut butter on whole grain toast)
• The tip of your pointer finger= 1 Tsp (oil to use when frying an egg and salad dressing)
• A cupped hand= ½ cup (this is two servings of nuts)
2. Hydrate. You should be drinking water throughout the day. This will curb your appetite and keep all your cells and organs (including your brain) functioning optimally. The amount of water you should drink should equal half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 180 pounds, you should be drinking 90 ounces of water. That’s a lot, I know. Just start increasing it if you fall below that. Add lemon or lime to give it some flavor.
3. Dine out less. The more you cook at home, the more control you have over the health content of your meal. And you’ll save money too. For example, use an air fryer at home instead of buying fried food out. Restaurants tend to serve food that has a higher fat content based on the way it’s prepared. When you do dine out, avoid food descriptions like smothered, creamy, crispy, fried, or au gratin. Restaurants also tend to over salt food; at home, you can use herbs to season your food.
4. Carry healthy snacks with you. A lot of time, poor food choices happen out of convenience. You have errands to run after work but you’re hungry, so you stop at a gas station for a slice of pizza or a candy bar. Keep healthier choices like a piece of fruit or a Kind bar in your purse or car.
5. Stick to lean meat cuts and low-fat dairy. For example, choose 95 percent lean ground beef over 85 percent lean ground beef; choose skinless chicken breasts over chicken thighs; and choose skim milk and low-fat cheese over whole milk and full-fat cheese.
Give these tips a try and I promise you that your health and weight will begin improving for life! And don’t beat yourself up if you have a night of pizza and wings; you’re allowed to indulge every now and then. Just return to your healthy habits the next day!
After all, at Kelly’s Choice, we are REAL people, who promote REAL food, yielding you REAL results.
For more advice about healthy diet and lifestyle choices, visit Kelly’s Choice Nutritional Company.
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