New Year’s weight loss resolutions! Made with well intentions but typically at a high failure rate. Why? It seems to me that we have clear outcomes (drop pounds) but fuzzy roadmaps on how we are going to get there.
To figure out the roadmap, I would recommend starting by evaluating the food choices or meals. And it’s simple to do! Use the USDA Myplate and compare your (meal) plate to the Myplate for recommended food group intake. List the food groups that you are eating in the correct amounts and pat yourself on the back. Good job! Now list the food groups that are not in the correct amounts. Acknowledge the discrepancies and own it. If there are multiple areas of concern, decide which you want to tackle. This is a very important step and requires you to analyze your environment fully. Consider your motivation and how this change will impact your daily routine. It’s always great to have support with any change you want to make. Do you need to discuss your plan with a spouse, friend, etc? Will they support you or possibly join you with your change challenge? How will this impact your daily schedule? Do you know how to shop, prepare or cook the food group you want to change or add to your diet? If not, the USDA has great resources to assist you (http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/consumers/all-about-food/cooking).
Ok, you are now ready for the next step. Simplify! Simplify! Simplify! Here’s an example. So let’s say you identified you do not have enough fruits and veggies in your diet and you want to start eating more. Great idea! These two food groups will fill you up with few calories. So make a plan of when, what, where and how you are going to eat these foods. Now you are ready to be successful in maintaining a healthy diet and reducing your weight. There are no need for extreme restrictions or supplements. They are not effective and therefore a waste of money! The only way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight.
Good luck on your journey to encourage patients and yourself to eat healthier this year!
Susan Saffel-Shrier, M.S., R.D., C.D., is a registered dietician and certified gerontologist, and currently serves as Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Division of Nutrition at the University of Utah.