Whether you’ve made New Year’s resolutions or not, you may have thought about getting healthier in 2023.
This probably means going on a diet, doesn’t it? Not necessarily.
If you’re looking for a temporary program to lose weight, diet may be the answer. But instead many experts suggest an attitude adjustment when it comes to eating — because this strategy is one step that can lead to a healthier, longer life.
By improving what you eat, you can lose weight and avoid the yo-yo effect of weight loss that comes with fad diets. An international study of 14 diets published in 2020 in the British medical journal BMJ found that dieters lost weight after six months, but most regained the weight after a year.
“Unfortunately, when people reach their goals and stop the program, most regain the weight and then some,” said Mimi Secor, a nurse practitioner who specializes in women’s health and “healthy diets.” and is the author of Fit at Any Age”.
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I want to lose weight and eat healthier. Which diet should I choose?
For starters, don’t think of it as a diet. “I coach my clients to replace the word ‘diet,’ which is often seen as a temporary solution, with the term ‘healthy eating plan,’ because it is more sustainable,” says registered dietitian at Cooper Clinic. said expert nutritionist Elana Paddock. Dallas, Texas.
One currently popular diet is intermittent fasting, which usually involves eating only during 6–8 hours of the day. But a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found no link between meal timing and weight loss over a six-year period.
However, fewer and smaller meals were associated with weight loss.
“Plus, skipping meals can lead to greater hunger and cravings later, making it harder to stop driving and make healthier food choices,” said Paddock. “In general, restrictive-type dietary approaches can produce similar negative consequences.”
When you look at US News & World Report’s 2023 Best Diets, the top recommendations “are not technically diets in the way that we think of diets as something restrictive,” said Gretel Schueller, managing editor of health at US News USA. told Today. “They’re a lifestyle approach.”
What are some good diets to consider as a plan to eat better?
The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes unsaturated fats from vegetables, fruits, lean poultry, seafood, whole grains, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil, “is really more of an eating style and it’s really adaptable,” Schueller said. Told.
“Diets that do well don’t restrict entire food groups or make you feel like you’re missing out on something. A better way to think of them is as patterns of eating,” Schueller said.
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The two other top diets recommended on U.S. News & World Report’s list are the DASH diet — which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — which limits foods high in saturated fat as well as sugary beverages, and The flexitarian diet focuses on a semi-vegetarian diet. On non-meat proteins such as beans, peas or eggs – plus fruits and vegetables – as a way to reduce meat intake.
In addition to the sodium restrictions for the DASH diet, these aren’t restrictive and are really about focusing on the things we know we should be eating: whole foods, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and so on. and limiting our candy and processed foods,” Schueller said.
What are some important factors to consider when choosing a diet or eating plan?
If a diet or eating plan is too restrictive, you’re less likely to stick with it. Other important questions to ask before starting a new eating strategy include:
- Are any favorite foods not allowed?
- Are all food groups included? What does our monetary budget allow?
- What about other family members?
“If you’re cooking for an entire family, but one person is eating differently than everyone else at the table, that’s not very sustainable,” Schueller said. “The more complicated the diet gets, the less likely you are to stick with it long term.”
Diets that rank high on U.S. News & World Report’s list can serve as the basis for a long-term healthy eating plan. Each suggests limiting unhealthy foods and emphasizing portion control.
“Whatever you choose, include healthy foods and drinks — and allow yourself an occasional treat. That way you can stick to it,” Schuler said.
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I don’t want to go on a diet, but I do want to make some simple changes.
Start with small changes. Drink more water — ideally eight 8-ounce glasses daily — and start recording your food intake with apps like MyFitnessPal, Secor.
“Or maybe start going to bed 15 minutes earlier or start walking around the block every day,” she said. “Don’t try to change everything at once. You’ll just get overwhelmed and will be more likely to throw in the towel by next year.”
Pick one or two specific variations to focus on and go from there, Paddock said. some suggestions:
- Replace white bread or white rice with whole wheat bread or brown rice (these have more nutrients).
- Opt for light popcorn instead of potato chips.
- Buy individual portions of nuts or snacks instead of large containers — or fill small snack bags for portion control.
- Always keep fruits with you instead of opting for sweets or salty snacks.
- Use smaller plates and bowls so portions are smaller.
- Eat lean protein, such as chicken or fish — or beans — after you’ve eaten red meat.
- After dinner, consider the kitchen closed until morning.
“You can consider a small step approach with healthy swapping and building one success upon another, which not only leads to positive change, but is also motivating,” Paddock said.
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What if I need a more strict regimen?
- Find a registered dietitian. These nutritionists “can be a valuable tool in working with you to design a plan and navigate options that best suit your needs and lifestyle,” Paddock said. You can find a nutritionist on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
- Try a program. If you’re not an experienced cook, maybe try a program like Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem or Optavia, which have foods you can buy and guidelines to help with portions. “Some of these more structured commercial diets may work for[the]individual, even if it is just for a limited period of time to jumpstart a healthier eating pattern,” Schuller said.
- Get a physical trainer. Eating is only part of a healthy lifestyle; Physical activity is another. But exercise is part of the “holistic approach … of the healthy lifestyle you’re choosing,” Schueller said.
Follow Mike Snyder on Twitter: @mikesnider,