The warm days of summer are winding down and the cooler temperatures of fall are upon us. Cooler temperatures often bring on heartier eating and less outdoor activity. Unwanted pounds can mysteriously appear if we’re not paying attention. Weight gain can not only make you feel uncomfortable, it can lead to serious health problems. It’s never too late to start a healthy eating plan to lose the extra pounds for not only the cooler months ahead but for a lifetime.
Dr. James W. Anderson, professor emeritus in the endocrine division at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, says that effective weight management for most individuals requires major long-term lifestyle changes related to eating patterns and physical activity.
A positive first step to losing weight may be to abolish the word “diet” from your vocabulary, Anderson says. Diets are often associated with self-deprivation and drudgery. Talking with your physician about the best approach to weight loss for you is a good idea. What works for one person may not work for another. However, there are a few simple guidelines for healthy eating from which everyone can benefit.
Less but more variety
You are more likely to keep weight off if you lose it slowly. “Most people can lose weight by eating about 500 to 1,000 fewer calories a day than they do now,” Anderson says. A healthy eating plan takes into account your likes and dislikes, and also includes a variety of foods that give you enough calories and nutrients for good health. A balanced diet emphasizes:
• Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products
• Lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans
• Foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, salt, cholesterol, and added sugars
• Snacks such as vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products
Practice these three
You can improve your health and manage your weight through these three actions:
√ Become a fat detective and decrease your intake of calorie-laden fatty foods, snacks, and desserts.
√ Avoid eating between meals. Food is everywhere. Chew gum, take a brief walk, or have low-calorie snacks available to avoid the warm glazed doughnuts your work colleague provided.
√ Plan to increase, gradually if necessary, your physical activity to 60 minutes, six days a week. This could be walking two miles and up 18 flights of stairs in your building. Your health deserves this time commitment.
It doesn’t take an expensive gym membership or special workout clothes to exercise. Anderson recommends physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day to burn extra calories. Start slowly if you’re not used to physical activity. Take a short walk or take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you feel you are ready and your doctor has agreed, try a brisk walk, dance, ride a bike, or swim. The key is to find something you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it.
Diet aid alli
When reducing caloric intake and exercising aren’t enough to bring about weight loss, an FDA-approved diet aid, such as alli, may be helpful. The active ingredient in alli attaches to some of the natural enzymes in the digestive system and prevents absorption of about a quarter of the fat you eat. Undigested fat cannot be absorbed and passes through the body naturally.
According to Anderson, maintaining a healthy weight is not just about looking good, it’s also about feeling good and providing the body the right fuel to function properly.