For the past few years, I really haven’t had any restrictions when it comes to my nutrition. I basically eat what I love. However, now I am paying the price. Weight gain, high blood pressure and the amount of money spent on clothing that fits is just ridiculous. It’s time I start focusing on nutrition and weight management and living a healthier lifestyle.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Christina Baca, R.D. from the Center for Healthy Living through Kaiser Permanente regarding nutrition and weight management. The first thing I asked her was about was fad diets and their benefits. I have had friends tell me about avoiding carbohydrates and sugar, and more specifically, the Adkins, Ketogenic, and liquid diets. All of them seemed to help achieve their goal for the length of the time they were on their diet, but once my friends had stopped, the weight returned. Ms. Baca shared that the crazier the diet, the more likely it will not work. She does not recommend any fad diets because they come and go, and tend to have the same result. As a matter of fact, before you start any “fad diet” check with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease about the myths and get some helpful tips to start achieving your goals.
The diet that Ms. Baca does recommend is a whole food diet. For best results, the food we eat should be “real food” with minimal processing and in it’s whole form. Additional benefits come from focusing on a plant based nutrition, fruits, vegetables and a even plant based protein.
Where to start:
Getting started on any weight management program seems daunting and I never know where to start. Ms. Baca shared that the best way to start is with portion control. She recommends using smaller, 9-inch plates. This way you won’t feel deprived. Also, focus on the “Healthy Plate” method – divide plate in 4 portions:
- ¼ lean protein: skinless chicken, fish, lean beef or pork, eggs or even tofu
- ¼ healthy starches: whole grains, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bread, corn tortilla, quinoa barley in addition to corn, beans, sweet potato
- ½ non-starchy vegetables.
For those striving to lose weight:
- Know the calculations – To lose 1 pound, you need to burn approximately 3,500 calories. The exact number you need to burn per calorie is based on your height, weight, age, etc. Rule of thumb is that if you take away 500 calories on a daily basis, in one week, you should lose a pound.
- Keep a journal – Is there a specific number of calories you should target daily? If you don’t know your actual number, start with the average of reducing your calories daily and keep track of food eaten, how your feeling, and monthly measurement numbers. You’ll start seeing those numbers changing in the right direction.
- Don’t get discouraged – Since bodies are not machines, they do not react the same way.
- Eat less, move more – By decreasing your consumption by 250 calories, and increase your activity of burning 250 calories, this becomes a more achievable goal.
- Stay away from foods that are not satisfying – You could argue that cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and sugary snacks and sweets are satisfying, and I’d totally agree with you. However, have you noticed that because of the fantastic taste, you don’t stop? The flavor entices and encourages you to eat more, I don’t ever stop at that first bite because I can’t let it go to waste. Once I’ve devoured it, I always feel sluggish and guilty. By avoiding these sugary temptations altogether, I won’t feel guilty and I’ll actually be more satisfied because of my will power.
For those looking to gain weight?
- Increase calories – The healthiest way to gain weight is to increase calorie consumption with 3 meals a day and 2-3 healthy snacks.
- Add in extra healthy fats like avocados, butter, nuts, olive oil. Extra protein from peanut butter and protein shakes.
Herbal Supplements, are they necessary?
If you are eating a healthy diet, you probably won’t need herbal supplements or probiotics. However, if you aren’t eating healthy, they could help. The focus should be on creating a healthy gut with healthy bacteria from eating the right foods and a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables and plant based foods.
Where to get guidance and support:
Kaiser offers several types of classes including:
- Chronic Conditions – Classes on nutrition with conditions such as pre-diabetic, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.
- Weight Conditions – There are two 16 week courses that help change eating behaviors that have accumulated over years These programs are offered at a fee.
Additional recommended resources (websites and apps):
- Nutrition.gov – Weight Management: https://www.nutrition.gov/subject/weight-management/faqs
- Kaiser Permanente nutrition and wellness: https://www.kphealthyme.com/Healthy-Eating-Active-Living-Programs
- Healthy Plates: https://www.kphealthyme.com/documents/HealthyPlate.aspx
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/myths-nutrition-physical-activity
- My Fitness Pal: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/
Additional Tips and Tricks:
- Be careful about calories you drink. Try to drink only calorie free beverages or stick with water or infused water.
- Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. If you wait and eat on the fly, your chances of success goes down.
- Maintain stress levels. Many people overeat due to stress. Use techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and confronting stressful issues. Manage stress to curb bad eating habits.
- Creat go-to-snacks for when you are not feeling well and are craving comfort foods.
- When eating out, plan ahead. Visit restaurant’s website for an online menu and decide what you will order based on calorie count so there is no guessing when you get there.
- Make sure that when you are making changes towards a healthy diet you need to enjoy it. Do your research and find new recipes.
After speaking with Ms. Baca from the Center for Healthy Living through Kaiser Permanente, I am ready to start. I feel more equipped to make a change in my eating habits for the better, starting off small to reach my goals.
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