According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, and weight-related resolutions top the list. Unfortunately, only about 8 percent achieve any type of resolution, weight-related or not.
If you’ve made (and then broken) the same old weight- or health-oriented resolutions each January, you’re not alone. It might be time to focus on research-proven approaches to get healthier that actually work — without gimmicks, diets that eliminate foods, or buying strange foods and equipment.
Start Well: Eat Breakfast
Start the day right, and it really can make things go better all day. Research has repeatedly shown that people who eat breakfast tend to take in more nutrients (calcium, iron, protein and fiber), are more alert and can concentrate better, and may even have better success with weight management.
To get yourself off to a strong start, think about combining protein, carbohydrates and low-fat dairy. Some possibilities: whole grain cereal and a high protein yogurt, an English muffin with peanut butter, or an egg sandwich with fruit and yogurt.
Eat Rough(age): Make Fiber a Priority
Fiber, found in whole grain wheat, barley, corn and oats, as well as in fruits, vegetables and beans, helps keep things moving easily through the digestive tract. Remember that grain fiber has different nutritional benefits than fruits and vegetables, so you need both.
Fiber is also filling, providing volume with few calories because our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break it down. But fiber can be digested and used for fuel by the 10 trillion bacteria that live in the colon and prevent numerous health conditions.
Get Your Facts Straight: If It Sounds Too Good to be True...
Losing 10 pounds in two weeks only to regain it in eight makes no sense. Whether you’ve tried to go gluten-free, low carb or avoid all white foods, chances are quite high that your efforts didn’t result in long lasting effects. What does work? A balanced eating pattern and an active lifestyle.
There is no one perfect diet, and anyone who says otherwise is typically selling a book or products promising weight loss. Registered dietitian nutritionists can be trusted to provide credible, evidence-based information that can be tailored to your lifestyle and taste preferences. In addition, eating patterns such as those recommended by the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and MyPlate can provide guidance on the types of foods to include in your meals.
Move It: Walk, Dance or Ride Your Way to Health
Unless you use it often (2–3 times per week or more), skip the gym membership. Walk outside, walk the dog, dance in your kitchen, work in the garden or ride your bike to run errands. And, if possible, do it every day with friends for fun, and make it part of your regular lifestyle.
Make It Stick: Schedule and Track Your Progress
Make a schedule of your health goals, and keep track of progress by writing in a food and activity journal or calendar. Write things down; it makes them more likely to happen. Note things like how you feel before and after meals and exercise. You may be surprised by what you learn.
How to Spot a Fad Diet in 30 Seconds or Less
Fad diets come and go and return again. Here are some obvious clues that a diet is a fad rather than a realistic approach for becoming healthy.
- Sounds too good or easy to be true
- Promises rapid weight loss (5–10 pounds a week) or “miracle cures”
- Allows only certain foods or food groups (cutting out others)
- Promotes a product, special herb, vitamin or other compound
- Can only be “followed” temporarily but is not supervised by a doctor
- Hard to imagine or difficult to follow the diet forever
- Doesn’t recommend a form of exercise or says that it’s unnecessary
- Warns that one food or food group will make you seriously ill or worse
- Makes recommendations based on pseudo-science not endorsed by credible organizations or peer reviewed by other scientists
- Cites research that is preliminary, based on animals, has very few subjects, or uses poor methodology
The bottom line: Eat when you are hungry, strive for moderation and move more to feel good.
Tips to Trim Mindless Calories
Put all of your attention on the food and nowhere else.
Eat for hunger
Make sure you are eating because you are hungry and not for other reasons.
You’ll stop eating sooner and register that you’ve had enough.
Eat without guilt
Consider whether the food is an “everyday” food or “sometimes” food and eat accordingly, enjoying every bite
For more info, try these resources:
• US News and World Report Ranking of Best Overall Diets:health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-overall-diets.
• Mediterranean Diet: oldwayspt.org/programs/mediterranean-foods-alliance/what-mediterranean-diet.
• DASH Diet: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/.
• Find a Registered Dietitian: www.eatright.org/programs/rdnfinder/.
• MyPlate: www.choosemyplate.gov.
• Information on diet, health, fiber, gluten and other topics: www.wheatfoods.org.