Changing Eating Habits
Dieting may conjure up visions of eating little but lettuce and sprouts, but you can enjoy all foods as part of a healthy diet as long as you don't overdo it. To be successful at losing weight, you need to change your lifestyle, not just go on a diet, experts say. This requires cutting back on the number of calories you eat by eating smaller amounts of foods and choosing foods lower in calories. It also means being more physically active.
Consider limiting portion sizes, especially of foods high in calories, such as cookies, cakes and other sweets; fried foods, like fried chicken and french fries; and fats, oils, and spreads. Reducing dietary fat alone, without reducing calories, will not produce weight loss, according to the NHLBI's guidelines on treating overweight and obesity in adults.
Use the Food Guide Pyramid developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and HHS to help you choose a healthful assortment of foods. Include bright-colored (red, yellow, green, and orange) vegetables and fruits, grains (especially whole grains), low-fat or fat-free milk, and fish, lean meat, poultry, or beans. Choose foods naturally high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (such as beans and lentils), and whole grains. The high fiber content of many of these foods may help you to feel full with fewer calories. To be sure that a food is whole grain, check the ingredient list on the food label, the first ingredient should be whole wheat or whole grain.
All calorie sources are not created equal. Carbohydrate and protein have about four calories per gram, but all fats, including oils like olive and canola oil, have more than twice that amount (nine calories per gram).
Keep your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol as low as possible. All of these fats raise LDL (bad cholesterol), which increases your risk for coronary heart disease. Foods high in saturated fats include high-fat dairy products (like cheese, whole milk, cream, butter, and regular ice cream), fatty fresh and processed meats, the skin and fat of poultry, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil. Trans fat can often be found in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils such as vegetable shortenings, some margarines (for example, stick margarines that are hard), crackers, cookies, candies, snack foods, fried foods and baked goods.
If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (no more than one drink a day for women, and no more than two drinks a day for men). Alcoholic beverages supply calories but few nutrients. A 12-ounce regular beer contains about 150 calories, a 5-ounce glass of wine about 100 calories, and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits about 100 calories.
Limit your use of beverages and foods that are high in added sugars, those added to foods in processing or preparation, not the naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruit or milk. Foods high in added sugars provide calories, but may have few of the other beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, that your body needs. A food high in added sugars will list a sugar as the first or second ingredient on the ingredient list. Some examples of added sugars are corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, honey, fruit juice concentrates, and maple syrup. In the United States, foods high in added sugars include non-diet soft drinks, sweetened beverages, including teas, fruit drinks, and fruitades, sweets and candies, and cakes and cookies.
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