The News Journal:
Jen Rini, January 25, 2016
Here’s the skinny on losing weight.
It’s easy to turn to fad diets that tout quick results – those promised svelte bikini bodies and eight-packs – but that won’t get your healthy lifestyle where it needs to be.
A “diet” by definition is just a smattering of the types of food one eats, explains Robin Schroyer, a nutritionist with the Central YMCA of Delaware.
If you want to succeed at dropping some pounds, “don’t cut everything out,” she said.
Here’s the thing: being “hangry” is a real thing. Saying goodbye to cookies or pizza for good only moves you closer to the inevitable: a late night Oreo binge or Grotto Pizza coma.
We need carbs to help fuel the brain, but it comes down to choice. Examples of good carbs are legumes and whole grains. The bad ones, when eaten in excess (and they often are), can range from white pasta to enormous sandwiches. “It’s just choosing the better carbohydrate,” Schroyer said.
But figuring out what and how much to eat is difficult. And exercise? Our crazy schedules sometimes work against us on that front.
This year The News Journal’s annual health challenge Take It Off encourages readers to embrace a healthier lifestyle by adjusting how and what they eat and/or making physical activity part of the daily routine. The end goal is weight loss, with an eye toward helping people avoid diabetes or improve their situation.
The challenge, sponsored by Christiana Care Health System, is free. Register at www.delawareonline.com/takeitoff and track your weight for the next 12 weeks, and you could win one of our weekly prizes and be in the running for prizes that include a $1,000 gift card.
The challenge will include several events, including Thursday’s Healthy Eating – Healthy You event at Christiana Hospital; a healthy cooking class in February; Christiana Care’s Dance Your Heart Out event in March; and a News Journal Imagine Delaware event in April focused on diabetes in the state, which many health officials warn is near epidemic proportions, mostly because of weight and poor eating habits.
Now, where to start to tighten your belt? We asked Schroyer and other area fitness and nutrition experts for advice about sustainable weight loss. Here’s what they had to say
First things first: “Try to set an attainable goal,” said Chrissy Shiring, associate executive director of the Central YMCA of Delaware, and then get your house ready to support your efforts.
“Don’t shoot too high or too big,” she said, “because then we have a tendency to just get frustrated and give up,”
When you are looking at any kind of lifestyle change, think about whether the goal is sustainable, adds Emily Hartline, a weight management dietician with Nemours.
“One thing that I tend to think is a red flag is that cutting out major food groups that provide lots of nutrients and a variety of nutrients,” Hartline said. “Are you really limiting yourself in a way that your body might not be able to get all the nutrition that it needs.”
One your decide, follow the lead of those who start the New Year by trying to “declutter” their lives, Shiring said, and hone in on decluttering your kitchen first.
“Go through your cabinets. The holidays are over,” she said. “Get all that extra stuff out of there. Fill it with healthy, easy snacks to grab.”
Make sure you have fruit available and healthy, pre-packed, calorie portioned nuts. Or divide out a large bag of carrots or popcorn in small zip-locked bags.
Start with a low-hanging fruit
Evaluate what you are doing now, Hartline said.
“Think about what you could change first. Pick some small areas for change. Pick a low-hanging fruit, something you could change pretty easily that would give you a confidence boost and allow you to feel good about the changes you made,” she explained.
An example is eliminating sugary drinks. Give yourself a measurable amount of time and see how it goes. Then maybe move to small bursts of exercise, and build up your stamina slowly.
But don’t only add foods to your diet or limit yourself to certain foods because they are healthy. Make sure you enjoy eating them, too.
“If you really hate eating broccoli, don’t decide that every night for dinner you are going to eat broccoli,” she said. “Because if you hate it, it’s going to be a long-term thing. I think that’s the most important thing: making sure you can do it for a long time.”
Make time for meals
Eat your first meal of the day within a half an hour of waking up, Schroyer says. Early morning meals jumpstart the metabolism.
“You want to get your motor running,” she said.
Make time for regular meals throughout the day to avoid overeating.
“It takes about 20 minutes for your body to feel full, satisfied,” explained Alyssa Atanacio, a dietitian with Christiana Care Health System’s Eugene du Pont Preventive Medicine & Rehabilitation Institute.
Snack smart, too. Avoid chips and soda and try not to eat right before you go to bed, Atanacio said.
“Your body is not able to burn off those calories,” she said.
Make snacks high in protein and low in calories. For instance, mix Greek yogurt and honey for a sweet fruit dip or add some ranch flavoring in the yogurt for vegetables, Schroyer advised.
For those on the go, toss granola bars (read the labels to make sure you’re getting what you think you are) or prepackaged veggies into your workbag, too.
Avoid added sugar
Processed foods and breakfast cereals can have a lot of hidden grams of sugar. Many foods do. Check the nutritional label on all of your foods.
Buy a sustainable water bottle and fill it up. Drinking water keeps the mind and body hydrated, Shiring said.
“In the winter we forget about being hydrated because we are not hot,” she said. “But we are still losing water.”
On top of that, being hydrated helps stop us from eating mindlessly.
“We sometimes mistake hunger for thirst,” she said.
Skip fruit flavors
Eat your fruit instead of drinking your fruit in juices or flavorings, says Atanacio.
Fruit drinks lack fiber, Atancio explained.
“So your body has a hard time to sense a feeling of fullness,” she said.
Watch cooking oils
Olive and canola oil are beneficial because they are contain heart-healthy fats, but adding them to foods increases their calorie content.
For example, one tablespoon of olive oil has about 120 calories.
Typically a person needs about four to five servings of fat and oils a day, Atanacio said. A serving is about a teaspoon of oil.
Have Happy Hours in moderation
Drink alcohol in moderation. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks and women no more than one, a day. And don’t forget to count the calories when you’re adding them up.
A serving can be a 5-ounce glass of wine, 1-ounce of hard liquor or a 12-ounce beer and is about 100 to 150 calories, Atanacio said.
Mixed drinks are worse for a dieter because they add calories.
Dine and take out strategically
Ask for dressings and sauces on the side. When you get a dressing, opt for light dressings such as Italian, balsamic vinaigrette or oil and vinegar, not creamy ones.
Also, say bye-bye to fried foods (tear). Choose to have meat or vegetables baked, grilled or sauteed.
If you do stick with a fried entree, remove the carb-and-fat-loaded skin from the protein-filled meat.
Divide your plate
No one food group should be eliminated. Just eat in moderation.
The“plate method” recommended by the American Diabetes Association says about the half the plate should have non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of the plate should contain grains or starchy veggies such as potatoes or squash, and the remaining quarter should have some kind of protein.
“It’s a general guide to healthy eating,” Atanacio said.
Bust a move
Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand, said Anne Balbach, head of personal training at Beyond Fifty a gym for people age 50 and over
“One without the other will get you somewhere, but not really where you want to be,” Balbach said.
Build up stamina and burn calories with a combination of circuit weight training and cardio. For example, run for 10 minutes and then do 10 minutes on a weight machine to work the hamstrings and quads. Then switch to another 10 minutes of cardio.
But, even with a fitness routine, “you can’t continue eating the way you want to,” she said. Technology such as My Fitness Pal can help put perspective on what types of calories you put in your body. The smartphone application breaks out the carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins in food.
Try to get in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, five days a week, Atanacio said.
Swap out recipe ingredients
You can easily cut calories by substituting ingredients in recipes.
For example use tangy Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for tacos and apple sauce in brownies instead of sugar and oil
Choose skim milk in place of heavy cream, Atanacio said. Almond or cashew milk also can be a suitable substitute, but cow’s milk is going to have more protein, she added.
Jen Rini can be reached at (302) 324-2386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @JenRini on Twitter.