People are often frustrated either by weight gain or not being able to lose extra weight. Often they want a “quick fix” such as a pill to help them lose weight. The problem with using medications to lose weight is that the habits that caused a person to gain weight in the first place aren’t changed. Watching what you eat and regular physical activity can go a long way in helping someone lose weight and keep it off. Here are some suggestions of things you can do to help control your weight.
Try keeping a food diary for a while. Keeping a food diary means writing down every single thing that you eat or drink during the day (and night!). This means everything, including that cookie you grabbed as you walked by the counter, or the soda that you bought to drink in the car—EVERYTHING! Often people find that they are eating little bits throughout the day that they weren’t even aware of because it didn’t involve sitting down for a meal. Be honest when you start keeping the diary—don’t change your eating habits just because you know you’re going to be writing everything down—at least not yet. You want to figure out where any extra calories are coming from during the day so you know where to make changes.
Try to avoid lots of juice. A lot of people think that juice is healthier than soda, so they drink several glasses a day. While it is true that juice contains vitamins that sodas don’t, it also contains a lot of calories and a whole lot of sugar. If you have a craving for the fruity taste, eat the whole fruit instead. That way you also get fiber that can help you lose weight (see below). Drink water instead, with maybe a little juice mixed in for flavor.
Eat more fiber. Fiber helps you feel full longer so you eat less. It also helps move fat through your digestive system faster, so you absorb less. Fruits, vegetables, and foods labeled “whole grain” contain lots of fiber. It’s the “whole grain” part that’s important to look at on labels. “100% wheat” is not “whole grain”, it’s just flour.
Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals makes your body think it’s going to starve, so your metabolism (how fast you burn calories) slows down, and you’re more likely to gain weight. A lot of experts think that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it gets your metabolism running, but others are starting to believe that if you’re not hungry in the morning, you don’t need to eat it. If you choose to eat breakfast, make healthy choices like oatmeal with fruit. Oatmeal has a lot of fiber and helps lower cholesterol. Many cold cereals have a lot of added sugars, so it’s best to avoid them.
Try to be more physically active. You don’t have to join a gym and take exercise classes. Some easy ways to burn more calories include parking at the back of the lot rather than the space closest to the door, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or walking in place while watching TV. Better yet, turn off the TV and take a walk outside. It’s good to walk fast enough that you feel warmer, but you don’t need to run.
It isn’t easy to lose weight that you’ve gained, but it is possible. It probably took a few years for all those extra pounds to add up, and it’s going to take time to get rid of them. Start slowly, just making one change at a time.
Created by Shauna Leinbach, CNM