Energy Express

Sick of Dieting? Sick from Dieting?
Read This Now.

By Marilynn Preston

What’s the worst thing you can do if you want to lose weight?

Go on a diet.

Are you surprised? Probably not. Are you relieved? I hope so.

For the first time in recorded history, overeating is a bigger global problem than starvation. In America – home of the 1,500-calorie Slamburger – two out of three adults are overweight or obese, thanks in large part to the spread of cleverly engineered foods and playful drinks that are screwing up everyone’s metabolism.

But this isn’t a column about global obesity. It’s a column about you, and encouraging updated research about why diets and dieters fail, and even better, what it takes for you to succeed.

“Obesity is preventable,” Len Kravitz, Ph.D., bravely declared in the January 2018 edition of Fitness Journal. “Healthy eating is a habit, not a diet.”

Kravitz is a well-respected exercise science researcher based at the University of New Mexico – a 2016 inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame – and I want to share some of his latest findings because first, they make so much sense, and second, they give you an approach to your own weight loss that is sustainable, satisfying and involves a lot less exercise than you think.

I’m highlighting only three of his tastiest messages:

-Media messages confuse dieters. You’re confused, doctors are confused, most all God’s children are confused about what to eat and what not to eat. Who benefits from this confusion? The entire diet industry: their pills, books, plans and products. These don’t help us lose weight, but we buy them anyway. Confusion does that to a person.

-Failure breeds fat. The more times you start a diet and fail, the more shame and dissatisfaction you feel about yourself and your body. This curse of low self-esteem leads to more overeating, and also depression, anxiety and irritability. It is any wonder you hate being around people suffering through a strict diet?

• Food cravings are real. Diets based on forbidden foods push people to eat more, not less. When the diet ends – successful or not – people regress to their previous eating habits … and the pounds come back, plus a few more just to add to the overall sense of failure.

So if diets don’t work to reduce obesity, what does? That’s the billion-dollar question, and Kravitz’s extensive roundup of contemporary research has led him to this smart, sensible conclusion: Make small changes. Cut calories by eating one piece of bread instead of two. Or make simple substitutions, like mustard for mayo.

Small changes – better than diets, better than pills, better than all the traditional dietary interventions – are easier to do and maintain. Choose an olive oil dressing on your salad instead of a creamy one. Switch from a glass of orange juice to a cup of cantaloupe. Split a main course.

“There’s no way of getting around it,” Kravitz explains, “a person who eats and drinks too much is going to gain weight, and a person who seeks to lose weight must limit calorie intake.”

Limiting is way different than dieting. It starts where you are, and builds on small steps that bring a feeling of success, not failure. The small-change strategy that Kravitz writes about is based on years of research and observation by James Hill and others, reported in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Small changes are more realistic to achieve and maintain than large ones,” says Kravitz. The diet industry fails us by focusing on which foods we should eat, instead of how much we are eating and drinking.

Kravitz’s article includes 50 small changes you can make to cut calories. I’ll end with a few of my favorites, but here’s what you need to understand: No one changes because some expert tells you to. You’re in charge. It’s your readiness to change that matters.

If you are ready, try these tricks:

• Have your burgers without the bun. Or just go with half a bun.

• Avoid anything that says “double” or “triple” or “supersize.”

• Swap out fries for veggies; extra cheese for extra lettuce and tomato.

• Name your favorite foods and continue to enjoy them, in smaller portions.

• Can the soda.


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