Does cutting calories top your list of New Year’s resolutions?
If so, good for you for taking the first steps toward creating a healthier lifestyle. Healthy eating and increased physical activity are necessary to lose weight and to maintain a weight that is appropriate for your gender, age and height.
Get rid of the old idea that a diet is something to endure for a month, after which you go back to your old habits. Instead, embrace a healthier lifestyle as a lifetime commitment.
That means a commitment to changing your eating habits so the foods you love are the same foods that are good for you. Then, your meals will become balanced, varied and enjoyable.
When you take the long view, you adjust your normal eating just a little at a time so you gradually achieve the weight that’s healthiest for you. It may be as simple as substituting herbs for butter on your vegetables. Importantly, make each small change a new lifetime habit.
A great place to start is to read food labels at the supermarket and avoid processed, packaged foods such as muffins and cookies. Those can cause your blood sugar to rise and drop, and that leads to more hunger and cravings.
Most food labels provide a list of ingredients, and many contain additional information about the nutritional value of the contents. The nutrients listed often include calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein and other vitamins and minerals.
When you look at any list of ingredients, remember that ingredients are listed in order of their relative weight. The first is the one that makes up the greatest part of the product.
When it comes to healthy eating, you should feel inspired about the benefits you will experience when you improve the foods you eat. As you eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins, you can avoid complications if you already have a health problem and prevent future problems from occurring.
In the short term, you may notice changes when you improve your diet, including more energy, better sleep, improved mood and greater ability to move and exercise. Over time, healthy eating also can resolve some health problems and reduce your risk for others, including less risk for type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduced risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Most experts agree the best way to lose excess weight and keep it off is to avoid fad diets, get plenty of exercise, improve eating habits (and the types of foods you eat) and lose weight gradually rather than quickly.
If you are looking to shape up your diet and health in the new year, tell your doctor about it. They can support you on your journey toward healthy living by helping you plan a safe and effective strategy for losing weight and keeping it off for life.Gary R. Pingrey, D.O., is a family medicine physician at Franciscan Medical Clinic in Gig Harbor and a member of the medical staff at St. Anthony Hospital. Need a doctor? Call the toll-free Franciscan Physician Referral Line at 1-888-825-3227.