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Eating to live, not living to eat

To achieve weight loss, some of us must relearn how to eat and increase physical activity. When beginning a new lifestyle, take it slowly. Be kind to yourself. You are re-learning lifetime habits. Where to begin?

1. Set a weight loss goal: A 10-15 percent reduction of body weight significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. You will achieve long success by making changes over an extended period. Recommended weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.

2. Go back to school: The problem with dieting is that you are either “on” or “off.” It’s like taking a rifle to a tank battle – chances of winning are slim. Weight may come off during dieting, but when you go back to your former eating habits, not only does the original weight come back, but frequently additional pounds, as well.



Instead, provide your body with nutritious fuel by learning the nutritional and caloric value of foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Choose foods from the entire rainbow, thereby assuring you get the necessary vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (cancer-preventing substances found in colorful foods) that help prevent disease.

Proper portion size – even of nutritious foods – is another key to weight loss. Choose a variety of foods that include complex carbohydrates and lean protein for optimal health.




3. Awareness is a key principle of lifestyle change. Keep a food journal to help you remain conscious about eating and eating patterns.

– Record everything. No exceptions!

– Record the food, amount and calories. Include any taste-testing while you’re making dinner.

– Record immediately -don’t wait. Selective memories work well on food consumption.

– Carry your food journal everywhere. Use a small notepad in your pocket. In a crunch, a spare napkin will do.

4. Make a strong commitment to lifestyle change:

Challenge yourself and strengthen your commitment to a healthier lifestyle by asking yourself these questions each week:

– Is my daily calorie intake appropriate? Is my fat intake less than 30 percent of total calories?

– Is the diet balanced – am I eating the appropriate number of servings from different food groups?

– Is my outlook about weight management and health positive? Do I have patterns that interfere with losing weight?

– Do I get 30 minutes of exercise daily? Can I do more?

– Are there playful activities I can do to help increase my activity and make it more enjoyable?

Changing habits can take time. When the going gets tough, don’t quit. Recommit! Useful links to many health- related resources can be found at http://www.snmh.org, or contact a registered dietitian for further weight loss information at 274-6076.

Source: Laura Seeman, Registered Dietitian, Outpatient Nutrition Therapist at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.


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