Controlling Your Weight through Diet Changes

Losing Weight
With summer heat come trips to the beach. Trips to the beach mean trying to fit into last years bathing suit or bikini. Many women find that they would like to lose a few pounds for the summer. There are dozens of commercial weight loss programs that capitalize on this sudden dieting urge. Unfortunately, most of these programs dont work. Why?

Rapid vs. Gradual
Most commercial weight loss programs are poorly designed. They rarely result in permanent weight loss. This is because they tend to focus on rapid weight loss rather than gradual change. If you drastically cut the number of calories that you eat per day, your body will respond by lowering its metabolism. The rate of metabolism is how fast your body burns the calories it needs to maintain daily functions. This slows weight loss.

Many dieters become discouraged and will go off the diet. When you stop the diet, your body will quickly return to its previous weight. This creates a cycle of dieting and not dieting, called yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting causes weight to be gained back quickly and loss with increasing difficulty. Each time a new diet is started, the body slows its metabolism even more.

Dieting Effectively
Effective diets are not temporary eating changes. In order to be successful, a diet must be a permanent change in lifestyle. An effective diet will not restrict calorie intake to less than 1200 calories a day. In a sensible plan, food can be chosen from all of the food groups. Your favorite snacks, including even chocolate, can be a part of your diet, provided that the fat content is minimal and portions are kept small. You should aim to lose about ½ to 1 pound per week. This gradual loss of weight will keep your body healthy, while preventing a change in metabolism from messing with your diet.

What to Eat
Being on a diet does not have to be synonymous with starving. There are plenty of things to eat.

Breads: Whole-grain breads, whole-grain and bran cereals, rice, and pasta.

Vegetables: Dark green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach, collard, and endive), yellow-orange vegetables (such as squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes), cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.

Fruits: Citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit), berries, apples, and pears.

Dairy products: Low-fat (1%) or skin milk, low-fat or nonfat yogurt and cheeses (such as mozzarella, cottage cheese, farmers cheese, and ricotta), sherbet, frozen low-fat yogurt, ice milk.

Meats: Low-fat chicken or turkey (white meat without skin), fresh or frozen fish, lean meat trimmed of all fat, water-packed canned tuna, cooked dry beans and peas, egg whites, and egg substitutes.

The Bottom Line
The most important thing to remember is that if you wish to control your weight, the most effective and long lasting way is through a change in diet and maintaining an exercise program. A balanced diet of all five of the food groups is essential. You also must make sure that you have enough calories to keep your body healthy and to give you enough energy every day. Diet pills can have serious side effects and are rarely effective. Choose a diet that is low in fat (both saturated and unsaturated) and cholesterol. Only use sugar and salt in moderation. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and grains. The occasional treat is OK. Just make sure that you only eat a small amount and that it is relatively low in fat.

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