How to Start a Diet: The 4 Steps
You know you want to lose weight so you feel better physically and mentally, but you don't quite know how to put a plan in action.
Relax. It's time to stop stressing and to start losing.
Like any project in life, you need a workable game plan to lose weight and keep it off. But before you even draw up your plan, you need to be in the right frame of mind.
A good friend of mine, who happens to be a top weight loss psychologist, is fond of saying: "You can't change your weight until you change your mind."
What he means by that is you are more likely to stumble and fall if your mind isn't totally wrapped around a healthy new lifestyle -- the kind of lifestyle needed to lose weight and improve your health.
Here are the four steps to starting a diet that will work for you:
1. Take a pledge.
This pledge can be something as simple as a written note, signed by you and stating "I WILL lose weight this time and I WILL feel better. I am doing this because I want to ________ (fill in the blank with as many reasons as you can think of). And I WILL lose the weight in a safe manner. My starting weight is ______; by ________, I will drop ____ pounds. My goal weight is _______ and I WILL reach it by __________."
Write up a pledge like this, keeping it positive and specific. There's nothing that spells dieting doom than an open-ended dictate such as "I want to lose weight." Post your Pledge on the fridge or bathroom mirror so you will see it several times a day. It helps reinforce what you are doing... and why!
2. House cleaning.
No, we're not talking about dusting and vacuuming. We're talking about going through your pantry, fridge and cupboards and tossing the packaged goods that do no good to your body or weight. Fresh fruits and veggies can stay; so too can the junk-free yogurts and cheeses. All high-sugar, high-sodium treats and snacks -- the kinds with hydrogenated oils -- must go!
3. The write stuff.
Start a food journal and keep track of every bite you eat. Thinking you are too old or too busy to keep a diary? Think again. Studies have shown that dieters who kept track of their food lost twice the weight as those who didn't. Write on, slimmer!
4. Seek out support.
When it comes to effective weight loss, you shouldn't go it alone. There is safety in numbers. And it sure helps to have someone to turn to when those cravings rear their ugly head... and they will. Where to turn for support? Friends and family members are good first choices. So too are co-workers and members of your church or civic organizations you might belong to. We can't say enough about online support... support like that found right here at Diet.com.
Follow this advice and you've set yourself to have a fighting chance at weight loss.
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March 23, 2015
Cheating On A Diet: Avoid The Tailspin!
Whether it's your first time trying to lose weight or if you're an experienced calorie-counter, there is always the temptation to cheat.
Waking up to the smell of bacon, driving past the local McDonald's, or even something as trivial as a commercial for Popeye's new chicken and a biscuit combo can set off a craving that breaks your willpower and has you reaching for the car keys or moves those once steady legs to the fridge.
Here are some thoughts on how prevent a tail-spin.
Keep things in perspective
Remember that nobody is perfect! A small slip in your diet can actually prevent a total breakdown or food binge down the road and striving for perfection in your weight loss program will only hurt your progress in the long run.
The book, The Secret is Out, puts it best when it says, "the dieter who strives for good health has drive, while perfectionist dieter is driven." The perfectionist dieter will set their goals high and struggle trying to accomplish them due to self-recrimination following any little slip along the way, whereas healthy dieters will also set the bar high but have far less frustration trying to get there due to there ability to keep things in perspective.
No matter how many cookies you pass up at the grocery store, or how many holidays or parties you make it through without overindulging, chances are at some point you're going to give in. An important thing to understand is that your craving, or need to cheat, is all in your head and not a real physiologic need. Nobody needs the high-fat, salty, greasy or sugar-ridden foods they crave. Even though cravings are sure to pop up from time to time, there are several ways to reduce the actuality of a cheat occurring, and, even more importantly, there are more ways to get back on track immediately afterwards.
How do I get back on track?
Cheating doesn't mean failure! The biggest mistake people make is thinking that cheating is equivalent to failure. It is important to keep your goals in mind and be patient with your weight loss.
The extra pounds you're trying to lose didn't accumulate overnight so understand it will take time to reach your weight and overall health goals. If you're trying to lose 20 pounds, slipping up and putting 2 pounds back on after losing 10 doesn't mean you failed - it just slowed you down. Don't focus on the 2-pound weight gain, but instead look at the big picture and focus on the weight you've lost.
Two-steps forward and one step back is still a step in the right direction. The trick is to reduce your steps backwards in the future. Forgive the indiscretion, but don't forget it! Consider the situation, feelings, or reasons surrounding the occasion and come up with some strategies to avoid the same thing from happening again.
Vacations, sporting events, weekends, and parties are easy places to lose control of your diet; however, avoiding these occasions makes you miss out on fun times and leads to additional feelings of deprivation. Sometimes actually planning for an occasion where you will not follow your program (within reason of course!) will help you eliminate cravings in anticipation of that event and keep you from abandoning your weight loss efforts afterword.
Instead of playing the hermit card and staying in your exclusive dieting shell, plan ahead and create a plan on how to bounce back afterword or reduce the unhealthiness of a situation. Bringing your own healthier food or side dish to a party or cookout is an easy way to reduce calories.
As for a sporting event, eating a healthy meal before the game with fill your stomach and help fight the temptation for the foot-long "frank" and bucket of cotton candy. Just remember to mark down the occasion ahead of time to make sure you aren't cheating too often. Take some time in advance to plan how you are going to bounce back or come up with a strategy to better control the unhealthy situation.
Doctors Roizen and Oz, authors of the You On a Diet, cleverly explain how to bounce back from a cheat. They use the analogy of a GPS on a trip to explain how you should think on a diet. They write: "[If you make a wrong turn on a trip,] the GPS doesn't berate you, doesn't scold you... Instead, all it says, very politely is this: "At the next available moment, make an authorized U-turn."
This idea of getting back on track using a "U-turn" is not only clever, but is an extremely easy, lighthearted way to keep you from beating yourself up after cheating.
Attitude is everything!
Keep a positive attitude about your diet. Weight loss is a journey so don't let one mistake derail you. Keep your goals in mind, remember that nobody's perfect, and that giving up on yourself and your weight loss efforts will get you nowhere on your path to better health.
When a cheat occurs don't get depressed - just make a "U-turn" and get back on track. Even though the cheat may slow you down, don't let it put you in reverse! Remember the ultimate goal is a healthier you.
Lisa M. Davis, Ph.D., PA-C, C.N.S., L.D.N. is Director of Research and Development for Medifast. She holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University with a focus in Obesity Research, and she is currently the Director of Research and Development for the Medifast Program, a leading portion-controlled clinically proven weight loss program and co-author of the book, Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health. Click here for more information.
November 3, 2014
Mmm, Mmm Good: My Favorite Gluten-Free Soup
Itís turning a wee bit chillier in the Northeast and my thoughts are starting to turn towards soup to keep me warm. Homemade gluten-free soup is easy to make and a great way to experiment with some of the gluten-free whole grains.
Amaranth is one of my favorite grains to use in soups. Actually, amaranth isnít really a grain but an herb harvested for its seeds.
Amaranth seed is tannish-brown in color and very small ó about the size of a poppy seed. It gives soups a nice thick mouth feel. From a nutritional standpoint, amaranth seed is a tasty way to increase the iron and fiber content of your soups.
Amaranth seed can be found in natural foods stores. It also can be mail ordered, including from Nu-World Amaranth (www.nuworldamaranth.com).
In the Fall and Winter I like to serve soup for dinner. The recipe below is one of my favorites. It is from my book The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (McGraw-Hill, 2008).
Gluten-free rice chips go great with this soup. I am partial to Lundberg Family Farms brand.
Tomato Vegetable Soup with Amaranth Seed
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced into ľĒ crescents
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 19-ounce can dark red kidney beans
2 cups gluten-free chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup uncooked amaranth seed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Red pepper flakes, optional
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, peas, corn and kidney beans. Add the broth, water and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Mix in the amaranth seed. Add the garlic powder, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for approximately 1 hour.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Tricia Thompson, M.S., RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (McGraw-Hill) and co-author of The Complete Idiotís Guide to Gluten-Free Eating (Penguin Group). For more information, visit www.glutenfreedietitian.com.
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September 20, 2010