Posts Tagged ‘Dieting’

I recently returned from the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE – fence E), the annual meeting for dietitian nutritionists. Along with some 10,000 other members and professionals, I acquired updated information on some of the latest food products and nutrition research. One reminder about weight control came from a speaker in interaction with the audience. I don’t recall the session, but the speaker’s comment reverberated in my brain, “In the long run, weight loss diets can cause greater weight gain.” That’s not the exact quote, but close. How often do we hear about or experience weight loss only to regain pounds and exceed the starting point of the diet?

Our bodies need sufficient calories to accommodate body functions, but when we overindulge and acquire excessive weight, health problems may occur. We often seek remedies through unwise “dieting.” Several older studies confirmed negative results of dieting. Restricting calories increased secretion of the steroid hormone cortisol causing weight gain. Also, monitoring calories increased perceived stress resulting in added weight. Yet, about half of Americans continue to diet. Why?

In her October 2019 article “The ‘Biggest Loser’ returns‒should you watch?” dietitian nutritionist Susan Burke March explored the perils of rapid weight loss. Contestants for the TV show exercised for six to eight hours daily. The starvation diet resulted in failure to meet minimum nutritional needs. The outcome? While participants lost weight during the show over a short period of time, most regained it, and several surpassed their initial weight.

Eat, Food, Remove, Almost Time

What is the message here? Give up? That’s not the solution. We know the dangers of excessive weight. Worldwide projected estimates for diet related expenditures in 2019 expect to reach more than $206 billion even though weight gain seems to occur regardless of the type of weight-loss diet. Extreme diets play havoc with hormones and metabolism causing our bodies to need fewer calories. Our bodies adjust to starvation by lowering our energy needs to a minimal level. When we return to a normal diet with appropriate calories, we tend to gain more weight instead of returning to normal metabolism because our bodies have compensated for lower energy needs.

However there is hope for a healthy weight. Being the biggest loser isn’t the answer, being the biggest winner is. As March said, “Be a winner by making your diet a healthy one.” I have often alluded to this same advice in previous blogs. The perfect diet for us is the one that meets our nutritional needs with adequate calories for appropriate weight. Be a winner.

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With the new year now underway, many resolved, “This will be the year I will lose weight.” If that was your resolution again, how are you doing?  Repeated disappointment to lose weight requires a change in mindset. What do you really want—to lose weight or to be healthy?  Remind yourself it isn’t about losing weight. It’s about getting and keeping a healthy body. Weight is only one aspect of that goal. When you strive for better health through wiser food choices, weight loss will come―without all those weird, expensive, and/or dangerous diets.


So stop! Change that resolution now. Too many of us become discouraged with diets in a few short weeks. We may eat something that isn’t on our new “diet” and decide we are a failure. We aren’t. That’s the problem with all these “eat this, don’t eat that” rules. If you truly need to lose a few pounds, how can you do that without “going on a diet?”

  1. Eat more. That’s right. Too many starve themselves, feel weak and famished, and then try to make up for it by choosing foods or drinks that don’t help weight or how they feel. Intermittent diets have become popular. That is, choosing a time to skip eating. In the right conditions, it may help some people. But for most of us, it’s probably not a good idea.
  2. Look for ways to give up junk foods or extra snacks without missing them. So often we eat foods just because they are there. We aren’t hungry. We just want something to munch. Or we see food and think we have a responsibility to eat it. Not so. When you feel any of these urges, ask yourself if you want it, do you need it, or can you do something else to get your mind off eating.
  3. Stop eating when you aren’t hungry. This may be a continuation of the above. Are you starved for that bedtime snack? Will something bad happen if you take a few sips of water and go to bed without eating again? How about those break times? I know how tempting chocolate can be, but if you must indulge with everyone else, choose just one piece or one cookie you believe will have the fewest calories and walk away. Who will notice (or care) if you pick a bottle of water instead of some sugar-sweetened beverage? Ask yourself, “Should I allow others to dictate what I should and shouldn’t eat?”

Keep in mind that those with diabetes need to eat in sync with medications. When properly regulated, eating extra foods may not be necessary, and if they are, those in the junk food categories aren’t a good idea.

Stop the dieting habit. Many weight-loss diets are dangerous, and few people stick with them for very long. Healthy weight doesn’t depend on any one food. It depends on you making better choices and eating smaller amounts. Try it. What do you have to lose but unneeded weight? Happy new year.

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Have you heard? January 16 – 22, 2011 is Healthy Weight Week. This event celebrates healthy non-diet lifestyles to prevent eating disorders and weight problems. Healthy Weight Week encourages people to improve health habits by eating well, living actively, and feeling good about themselves. This 18th  annual event, directed by Francie M. Berg of the Healthy Weight Network, features two awards: 

  • The Healthy Body Image Award aims at prevention of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. It primarily targets school-aged students and addresses the widespread and difficult to treat problems of anorexia.
  • The “Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day” features the Slim Chance Awards.Winners of these worst  weight-loss promotions and products of 2010 were announced in December 2010.

Worst gimmick: Lapex BCS Lipo Laser promises a 3 ½ to 7 inches loss of fat in 3 weeks without going on a diet. Lipolaser promotes a non-diet, non-invasive, pain-free way to lose inches. It supposedly opens fat cells, right through the skin, and “stuff comes out of the fat cells.” The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) states it is not a laser light but an infrared lamp—so probably harmless. Treatments, on special sale, cost as low as $1,497 and up to $5,000 for the typical nine one-hour sessions. Does it work? Save your money.  

Worst claim:  Ultimate Cleanse promoters claim the body should be detoxified regularly to rid it of wastes and toxins. The FDA points out that the body is naturally self-cleaning. The primary ingredient, cascara segrada, is a powerful laxative banned as an ingredient in over-the-counter drugs in 2002. The product supposedly cleanses the bowel, liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin plus bloodstream, cells, and body tissues. Continued use results in several adverse conditions.

Worst product: HCG supplements resurged from popular 1950s weight-loss methods. HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Promoters claim injections reset the hypothalamus, improve metabolism, and mobilize fat stores. No scientific evidence exists to support these claims. Herbal versions of HCG recommend placing 5 to 10 HCG drops under the tongue several times a day. Interestingly, the program requires a 500 calorie a day diet. Short-term side effects of the program include fatigue, headache, mood swings, depression, and other symptoms.

Most outrageous: Distinction for the most outrageous diet aid went to Basic Research LLC. This company has received many warnings, fines, and ongoing lawsuits from the Federal Trade Commission. The most recent suit involved the “Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control.”

After noting some of the frauds for those hungry to lose extra pounds, consider how you can maintain a healthy weight  plus save money and perhaps your health. Simply make wiser food choices. Shouldn’t every week be a healthy weight week?

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