Like most people, my weight management clients make their food choices based on taste, convenience and force of habit. People can develop an almost sentimental attachment to the food they eat. Unless dictated by medical necessity, only a truly devoted loved one — or people and businesses motivated by monetary considerations — will ask someone to give up the foods they love to achieve weight loss. An effort doomed to failure.
The Difference Between Diets
Diets that attempt changes in a person’s eating behavior with promises of miraculous weight loss enjoy only temporary success. Diets that do not try prematurely to take away a dieter’s security blanket provide a greater opportunity to shed unwanted pounds and keep them off. These diets take into consideration that successfully changing eating behavior occurs gradually; it takes time to adjust to new tastes and for new habits to take hold. The good news — no need to wait for health to benefit from improved eating behavior — weight loss begins now with calorie reduction. Studies show that a person’s health will benefit from as little as a 5- to 10-percent weight loss.
Successful Weight Loss
Reducing calorie consumption reduces body weight, but it provides only part of the solution for successful weight loss and maintenance. Physical activity — keeping the body moving — builds and maintains muscle mass for strength and endurance, and increases calorie burning for faster, healthier weight loss. Routine exercise also provides many health benefits.
What About Cravings?
The body uses nutrients in food to produce the chemicals needed to keep its systems functioning. The brain usually initiates food cravings to replenish nutrients. Cravings can also occur to alter a person’s psychological state — such as an uncontrollable desire to eat chocolate — a well-known mood elevator. To facilitate getting what it needs, the brain initiates food cravings that match a person’s food preferences.
So, It Doesn’t Matter What I Eat?
The type of food consumed has a greater impact on health than it does on weight. However, eliminating foods that hinder rather than help the body function, reduces the risk of serious illness and improves people’s chances of enjoying a long and productive life. Excessive amounts of saturated fats, trans fat, sugary foods and desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages and refined flour products may taste good, but they eventually take their toll on the body’s health. Sorry — what people eat really does matter.
Enjoy your diet, but remember its primary function — to keep you healthy and alive.
Washington State University, “MyCalculators”
Harvard School of Public Health, “Weight Problems Take a Hefty Toll on Body and Mind”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Activity and Health – The Benefits of Physical Activity ”