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Resolution: Go on a diet and lose weight?
By Julie C.H. Brake   View more articles by this author
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January 05

It’s the beginning of 2010, and many people make resolutions to start the new year.  With the obesity epidemic raging in the United States, as well as weight gain from holiday eating, a very common resolution is to go on a diet and/or lose weight.  The flaw in this resolution is that it does not create a long-term outcome.  It is a decision to try to stop eating unhealthy foods and shed excess pounds, but it does not involve maintenance of healthy eating habits or a healthy weight.  This leads to what is called “yo-yo dieting” – dieting with weight loss followed by returning to previous eating patterns and regaining weight.  It can also lead to overly restricting food intake to the point of not being able to stop losing weight, even after a healthy weight is achieved.

So let’s change that resolution from “Go on a diet and lose weight!” to “Eat healthier and maintain a healthy weight!”  It is okay to include a specific weight loss goal, just keep in mind that any weight within the healthy range should be considered acceptable and successful.  If you struggle with how to eat healthier, here are five good guidelines:

  1. Limit fast food.  Even if you’re choosing something “healthy,” you’re more likely to get sodas or fries if you’re stopping at a fast food joint.
  2. Drink mostly water.  Eight glasses of water daily plus some skim milk or 100% juice will give you plenty of fluids without empty calories.
  3. Eat your fruits and veggies.  Adults should have at least 3 servings of veggies and 2 servings of fruit daily, and often the recommendation is more.  If your fruit and vegetable intake is too low, you will be hungry for other foods because your body wants the nutrition.  You will end up eating extra grains, protein, or fat instead.
  4. Watch portion sizes.  Start with a small portion and get more if you are hungry.  You will eat a larger amount if it is on your plate.
  5. Limit added fats and salt.  Use low-fat, oil-based salad dressings.  Salt your food lightly while cooking but stay away from salt shakers at the table.  Try to avoid foods that are already high in fat or sodium.


To attain and maintain a healthy weight, include physical activity for 30-60 minutes at least five days per week while following the above eating guidelines.  Pay attention to the body’s signs of hunger and fullness: Eat when hungry, and stop when satisfied.  Using these tips will change habits and behaviors for long-term success.

For more personalized advice, seek out a Registered Dietitian in your area by going to the American Dietetic Association website at www.eatright.org.  An individualized eating plan will provide a balanced approach for more specific healthy eating guidelines, as well as incorporating personal weight goals.

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