By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES
Ever wonder why there are so many different eating styles… and each one has fans who swear it is the BEST? Well, the truth is that different ones work for different people. There is no one best way that works for everyone. The best eating style is one you know you can stick with! While a balanced, healthy eating plan is one that ideally you can follow for the rest of your life, we recognize that many people are looking for a more structured plan.
As you evaluate the pros and cons of different approaches, keep these principles for healthy weight loss in mind. Also, talk with your healthcare providers and dietitian, as they can be very helpful in figuring out all the options available for sustainable weight loss.
Principles for healthy weight loss:
- Focus on eating a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy, nuts, healthy fats and other high fiber, minimally processed foods.
- Avoid added sugars and limit refined carbohydrates (such as products made with white flour such as bread, pasta, breakfast cereals and baked goods). Limit alcohol and other calorie-laden beverages.
- Focus on gradual weight loss, not to exceed 1-2 pounds a week. A structured weight loss program will usually involve nutrition classes, an opportunity to exercise, group support and medical supervision – all offered over a period of at least 8 weeks. Longer programs are typically more effective.
- Include regular exercise – both aerobic (like walking or biking) and strength training (using resistance bands); aiming for 6-7 days a week, 60-90 minutes a day.
- Incorporate mindful eating principles. Anything that helps you savor the flavors and eat more slowly is ideal. Also, try to minimize distraction and reduce food cues in your surroundings.
- Have a plan for ongoing support and to move you from the jump start phase to a long term maintenance phase.
As you review different meal plan options, use this as a guide to help you choose:
Things to look for:
- All foods can fit, in moderation.
- A way of eating you could stick with for a lifetime.
- Recommends only moderate weight loss goals – no more than 1 kg (or 2 pounds) per week.
- Includes input from an experienced and credentialed healthcare professionals.
Things to avoid:
- Completely omits one or more food groups (carbohydrates, fat, etc.)
- Promises fast results with no effort.
- Requires you to buy special products or supplements; expensive.
- Involves periodic fasting or low calorie levels (less than 1200/day).
- Has no input from nutrition or medical professionals.
- Sketchy claims.
All eating patterns fall along a continuum: those that you can follow for a lifetime, and those that are only intended for a short-term jumpstart. (Think of meal patterns or plans intended for use over your lifetime – and on the other end of the spectrum, “diets” which are more drastic, intended for short term use, and not sustainable.)
Some people use something called the “Do One Thing” (DOT) strategy, which can make a huge difference. It might be to omit sugar sweetened beverages or to stop eating lunch at fast food restaurants. Small changes can really add up over time. Also, research shows that weight loss is more effective and long-lasting when it is part of a program that involves ongoing support and continues for at least 8-10 weeks. The longer the better. Support can be live or online. Join our Facebook support group by clicking here.
Finding a doctor who specializes in helping people reach a healthier weight can make a huge difference on your health journey. To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.
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This article was sponsored by Novo Nordisk Canada. All content is created independently by My Weight – What To Know with no influence from Novo Nordisk.