According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ANY DIET that limits calorie intake to 1500 calories per day will result in weight loss. However, this groundbreaking report emphasizes that only a diet that is moderate in fat and high in complex carbohydrates will help you keep weight off permanently. In addition, this moderate fat, high carbohydrate diet — which is what we serves up in our daily meal plans–is the only proven way to produce long term health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels and reducing cancer risks.
This U.S. Department of Agriculture report frowns at unorthodox but yet popular weight loss programs such as the high protein Atkins diet and other similar dietary regimes. While high protein diets seem to produce a significant weight loss in a quick amount of time such diets produce a greater loss of body water than of fat. Other evidence against these high protein diets include the fact that there are no controlled, randomized studies which support the loss of body fat even over the long haul. One other strike against them: there is no evidence that such diets help to reduce blood cholesterol or improve blood sugar levels.
Carrying excess body weight is a significant risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic health conditions. In addition to daily eating a moderate fat, high complex carbohydrate diet, regular exercise and social support are critical adjuncts in keeping weight off.
Fighting family fat
1 in 3 adults, and 1 in 5 kids are overweight. Despite widespread efforts to treat this epidemic, these spreads continue to widen at an alarming rate. While there’s no doubt some of us are genetically destined to carry around a little extra baggage, many of us tip the scales because we eat too much and move too little. We eat on the go, “super size” our food portions, and spend too much time in front of our televisions and computer screens. If you and your family struggle with weight, don’t despair. There are many healthy steps you can take to win your fight against fat.
1. Eat at home more often. Can’t remember the last time you and your family sat down together for a meal? Plan to prepare a great tasting and healthy dinner one night each week. Involve your kids by letting them create the menu, shop for ingredients, or make a dish themselves.
2. Prepare for snack attacks. If you and your kids are always hungry for something after school or work, or late at night, have healthy snack options on hand. Fresh fruit, low fat microwave popcorn, low fat cheese and crackers, and low fat ice cream are good choices.
3. Plan indulgences. Going to a birthday party or other special event does not have to end your healthy eating efforts. To prevent overeating, have a snack beforehand. Try to focus more on the company, not on the food. If you overdo it, start fresh the next day or meal.
4. Get fit together. Take a walk, go on a hike, or ride your bikes outside. In bad weather, reorganize a closet, house clean, or play hide and seek. Spending less time on your couch and more time on the move will give you energy and will give you quality time with your family.
5. Think long-term. Weight management is a life-long process, not a quick fix. If you focus on making small, gradual and realistic changes in your food choices and activities, you’ll improve your odds for achieving and maintaining a healthier body weight.
Eating on the go can be daunting if you’re watching your weight, especially when the pickings include high calorie/high fat foods such as Danish pastries, croissants, muffins, and donuts. If you keep just a few staple items in your pantry or refrigerator at home or at the office, you can successfully put together a healthy and satisfying breakfast. Below are several foods and beverages grouped by category. To build a healthy, low calorie/low fat and nutritious breakfast, choose 1 item from each category for a total of 300-400 calories. If you want to double a serving of a specific food or choose 2 items from a single category, choose items from only 3 categories (instead of 4). Breads/Starches
· 2 slices toast- best choices: whole wheat, bran, oat or multigrain
· 1-1/2 cups high fiber, low fat, low sugar cereal
· 1 medium banana
· 1/2 cup applesauce or 1 apple
· 1 cup (8 ounces) orange juice
· 2 tablespoons of raisins or 3-4 pieces dried fruit
· 1 cup (8 ounces) skim or 1% milk
· 1 cup (8 ounces) low fat plain or vanilla yogurt
· 1 slice low fat cheese
· 1 slice low fat cheese
· 1 tablespoon peanut butter
· 6-10 nuts
· 1 tablespoon cream cheese (can mix with 1 tablespoon jelly which contains little fat)
· 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
Too much sugar (especially the kind added to many processed foods and beverages) can sabotage your family’s efforts to eat well and stay trim. Intake of added sugar is on the rise and represents an estimated 12-20 percent of the calories we consume each day. Candy, non-diet sodas, juices, cakes and cookies often come to mind when we think of sugar. But other foods that we think of as healthy, including yogurt and applesauce, are often laced with extra sugar.
While skipping sweets altogether is not realistic, there are several ways you and your family can satisfy your sweet teeth, spare your waistlines, and eat healthier:
1. Become a sugar sleuth. Read the ingredient list on food packages and look for the sugar. Other names for sugar include white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, and crystal dextrose. The higher up on the list, the more sugar in the product.
2. Get the facts. While the Nutrition Facts label on food packages lists sugar in grams, it doesn’t say how much is natural and how much is added. Nevertheless, use grams of sugar to compare similar items such as cereal — have your kids compare your family favorites, and opt for those with less sugar more often.
3. Go natural. Many foods that naturally contain sugar, including fruit and milk, are also rich in vitamins, minerals and other key nutrients. On the other hand, many products high in added sugar offer calories and not much else. To get the most bangs for your nutritional buck, choose more foods and beverages with natural sugar or less added sugar. For example, plain skim milk is a better choice than chocolate skim milk, and fresh fruit beats out canned fruit.
4. Stick to your sugar budget. Each teaspoon of sugar has roughly 4 grams. The USDA recommends no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from added sugar. For 1600 calories, that’s 6 tsp, or 24 grams a day. To satisfy a sugar craving without caving in, choose fresh fruit in season, a sucking candy, or a small lollipop. Save sugary snacks and non-diet sodas for special occasions.
Dieting? Don’t skip breakfast!