By RILEY BLACK
This time of year is usually full of motivation for the average adult due to their New Yearís resolutions. About 41 percent of Americans make some form of resolution for the start of the year and you guessed it, the top resolution is weight loss and self-improvement. Unfortunately, only about 8 percent of those will successfully reach their goals.
I am here to give you some helpful and easy tips to make weight loss and good health permanent!
My first bit of advice for those trying to lose weight this year is donít rely on a fad diet, weight loss products, or a magic pill solution. These consistently donít work and only cost you money in the end. You may have heard of ďfad dietsĒ like the South Beach, Atkins, Paleo or Weight Watchers. The promise of these diets is that you will lose weight quickly without exercise. It is typical when starting diets like these that you may lose a few pounds to start but then plateau or gain weight back after a while because you are not losing fat, you are losing water. This same thing goes for weight loss products like shakes, powders, or weight loss pills. These again, donít promote health for your body because they lack fiber, nutrients and essential vitamins and instead are usually full of additives, sweeteners and other mystery ingredients claiming to promote weight loss.
It is estimated that about 70 percent of weight loss can be achieved by diet modification and the additional 30 percent by exercise.
Because our diets affect so much of our overall health, including our weight, it is important we understand good and bad nutrition habits.
First off, the body needs carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins/minerals and water every day to function so cutting out one or several of these food groups to lose weight quickly is not healthy for your body.
According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AAND), we need to eat a diet mostly consisting of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are breads and pastas made 100 percent of whole wheat flour. Other grains include quinoa, brown and wild rices, and whole oats and bran. The healthiest and most nutritious way to prepare these foods is by cooking and seasoning yourself. Packaged rice or pasta dinners have hidden unhealthy elements such as salts, sugars, preservatives and saturated fats and donít have the good stuff like fiber. A good rule of thumb is: donít eat it if it is out of a box.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the same holds true. Shop the edges of your supermarket not the aisles. This means, spend more time in your produce section selecting fresh green beans and not in the aisle picking the canned ones. Canned foods donít provide the same nutrition as the whole foods that you cook yourself, and are often high in salt and sugar content. Avoid canned fruits and vegetables. However, frozen options can be very healthy and make good substitutes. It is important when selecting frozen fruits and vegetables that you check the label to make sure there isnít any added salt or sugar.
Other easy changes that can make a big impact on your weight and overall health include substituting foods for more nutritious options. If you use sour cream in your cooking, trying using Greek yogurt instead. Pick low sodium chicken or beef stock options, cut out fruit juices and soda and instead drink water and tea.
Meat, in any form and in excess, can have adverse effects on your health and weight loss goals. Even lean meat sources contain fat and cholesterol which are essential for life, but only in moderate amounts. Protein is an essential element in human survival and we need it every day to function. However, we donít always need protein in the form of meat. For your health, try eating meat only one or two nights a week and aim for vegetarian or fish sources for the rest of the week. Great sources of vegetarian protein include legumes (beans), lentils, nuts, broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts. If you do eat meat, eat it sparingly and aim to eat lean meats like chicken or turkey. Watch out for deli meats as these have high sodium content and have even been linked to cancer.
With weight loss, one of the most important factors is not only that you are eating good foods but also that you are eating moderate proportions. Anything in excess isnít good for us so moderate your diet with average size dinners and try not to overeat. To help, eat around the table and not in front of the TV which distracts us from our hunger and satiation cues. To help keep you satisfied between meals, carry healthy, easy snacks like nuts, apples and bananas. Stay away from false health snacks like granola bars, chips and crackers. These products can claim to be healthy, low fat or low calorie but are usually full of salts, sugars and hydrogenated oils to make up for it.
Healthy living shouldnít be expensive and by budgeting and meal planning you can make the most of your shopping trips. For help meal planning and preparing healthy foods, call our local SNAP educator, Annette Galioto, at 406-283-2452. She can provide you free cooking classes, shopping advice and meal planning tips to make your wallet stretch.
In addition to a healthy diet, physical activity is crucial for total body wellness. To be considered active it doesnít mean you need to be a marathon runner. Pick activities that you enjoy, like walking, swimming, dancing, rowing, etc., and start slow and easy. As you build up to more activity you can get more vigorous in your routine.
Fluids help to move toxins out of our bodies and move nutrients into our cells. Water is the essence of life and there really isnít any other substitute. Invest in a water bottle and keep it with you all the time to help increase your intake of water. Add fresh fruit to give it flavor!
We all fall of the wagon and I will even admit to making a McDonaldís run now and then. The key to remember is that one bad meal will not ruin your diet; however, one good meal wonít make it either. Change doesnít have to be radical to make a difference. Simply cutting out a few bad habits may make a world of difference in your weight and health goals but be realistic in the goals you set or else you may set yourself up for failure.
Besides losing weight, these diet changes can have big impacts on your cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It can also prevent type II Diabetes or help to manage it. It is important to keep our bodies in harmony and balance and what we put into it is what we will get out of it.
If you read this and come away with one phrase, let it be this: Eat foods without labels, drink water every day, and move often!
For recipes and tips, visit www.eatright.org or call 406-283-2447.
Riley Black is public health nurse for Lincoln County.