Obesity affects many people in our society and brings about a number of medical problems. Diabetes, heart disease and even certain types of cancer are all associated with excess body fat. Whether because a doctor advised it or because they don't like what they see in the mirror, many people want to lose weight.
Some people are successful and never regain the weight they lost, while others play "yo-yo" with their scale for years. Losing weight is not the hard part. The hard part is keeping the weight off!
Eat to survive or survive to eat?
First, you have to have realistic goals. Do you really have to lose weight? Yes, then the key to success is in recognizing your bad habits and changing them. For example, some people eat more when they are stressed or feel lonely. You should confront your problems instead of eating to avoid them. If necessary, seek help. Try to think about yourself in a positive manner.
Having healthy eating habits
In general, you should be suspicious of any diet that makes unrealistic claims, such as losing 10 kilos in one week effortlessly. Realistically, durable weight loss is usually around half to one kilo per week.
You should eat foods from each of these groups each day:
- fruits and vegetables (7 to 10 portions);
- bread and cereals (6 to 8 portions);
- meat / fish / eggs / legumes (2 to 3 portions);
- milk and dairy products (2 portions).
Ref: Food Guide Canada 2007, servings for adults age 50 or less
Popular diets that exclude a whole group of foods, such as the "grapefruit diet", do not work and can be harmful to your health. Meal substitutes used to replace one or two meals a day will result in comparatively rapid weight loss, and are usually relatively well balanced. However, they do not teach better eating habits and are expensive.
Spend more energy: be active!
Long-term successful diets are based on reeducation and exercise. You must first establish what and why you eat to determine which foods you should eat more sparingly. Then you have to integrate physical activity in your new routine. Physical activity is the best way to improve your chances of losing weight and keeping it off. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat... You probably would lose weight only by cutting out high fat foods, but adding physical activity will make you burn even more calories and make it easier to reach your goal. Exercising does not have to mean spending three nights a week at the gym. It may be getting off the bus a few stops early and walking home, walking 15 minutes after lunch, taking a walk to the newspaper stand or taking the steps instead of the elevator.
Healthy foods and eating habits
Should you completely avoid alcohol, doughnuts, cake, candies and fries? No, but you should eat smaller portions, on occasions only. If you avoid them completely, you might become frustrated and give up completely after a few weeks. Instead of not drinking milk at all, choose skimmed milk. Use yogurt instead of sour cream, low-fat instead of regular ice cream. Pour less dressing on your salads. Eat leaner cuts of meat, skinned chicken and more fish. Prefer baked foods to fried ones.
Carbohydrates found in pasta, cereals and bread have been wrongly accused of being fattening. In reality, carbohydrates in combination with fruits and vegetables are the basis for healthy eating.
Eat slowly - a meal should last 25 to 30 minutes. Eat smaller portions. If you find this difficult, use a smaller plate... If you need to snack between meals, eat raw vegetables or drink water. Eat a complete breakfast: bread or cereals, a fruit and dairy product. Go grocery shopping on a full stomach. Don't keep snacks (candies, chips, etc.) in the house so you won't be tempted when you watch tv ... Try to keep your new healthy habits even at the restaurant.
Drugs to lose weight?
Some drugs can decrease the appetite and help lose weight. However, they cause adverse effects, especially to those with heart problems or hypertension. Some weight loss clinics use a vast number of products to promote weight loss: diuretics, vitamin supplements and appetite-suppressants. At the most, these products may help someone pursue his goals. But ultimately, only one's will to change and perseverance will ensure long-lasting results.