New Year’s resolution: Just say no to fad diets

Lose weight the old-fashioned way: nutrition and exercise

1/1/2014
BY ROSE RUSSELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
There's no replacing exercise when it comes to losing weight.
There's no replacing exercise when it comes to losing weight.

The season’s festivities will be over soon and most of us will try to drop all those pounds gained in recent weeks.

Many will tackle the challenge with a fad diet, which produces fast results. But that’s a problem because the outcome is not likely to last. Instead, the slow sensible approach may take longer but it’s preferred because the results can be sustained.

“People think about losing weight, but you have to take that from thinking to doing, so take a planned approach to accomplish goals for the new year,” said Nathan Drendel, wellness dietitian with ProMedica.

“Instead of saying I want to lose 10 or 15 pounds, make plans to do that, but crash or fad diets will give rewards early, but long-term, it’s poor.”

Crash diets aside, Mr. Drendel also says to realize that everyone is different. What works for one may not work for another. For example, some do better eating two or three meals a day instead of grazing, which is eating several small meals throughout the day.

And though breakfast has long been heralded as the most important meal of the day, it’s not valuable if it’s a sugar-filled cereal instead of lean protein and healthy dairy products. And if you’re on the run, grabbing something from a fast food restaurant may be easy, but it’s hard on dieting. Going to a restaurant where the options are on a menu allows one to make better choices.

The dawning of the new year is a great time to “become smart about food,” too, Mr. Drendel said.

“In our society, we have come to eating in a passive sense: sitting and eating without realizing what food is composed of. Lean meat is protein, breads are carbs and grains,” he said.

So rather than remove all grains or going completely low fat, Mr. Drendel said maximize what foods are eaten. For instance, choose the stronger cheeses because their taste is stronger.

Set goals, but be realistic, he said, and establish a time frame, but don’t be discouraged if you miss the goal. Aiming to drop 30 pounds in a month is not realistic, but losing one to two pounds a week is adequate, he said. The way to success is to proceed slowly and steadily. Fad diets may allow a person to drop 20 pounds quickly, but when his old eating habits return, with them come the pounds.

“Sometimes slow and steady can discourage people, but slow and steady is the way to go,” he said.

“Also, typically in January, we have the notion that we have to be 100 percent all the time,” he added. “Indulge once in a while and get back and and don’t dwell on the over indulgence.”

Some think dieting means eating salads all the time. That’s not what Mr. Drendel suggests.

“I say enjoy foods 15 percent of the time and clean foods and more nutritious foods 85 percent of the time,” he said. “If you go 100 percent nutritious, then there will be times when you over indulge. Indulge sometimes, but not too excess, and get back on track and aim for the long-term goals.”

Keeping track of foods eaten is also beneficial. A written record or log is one way, and making good use of smart phone apps is another.

“If you track, you hate writing down that you ate 10 cookies, so a food log is kind of someone watching over you and you are less prone to eat poorly and you realize too that you are eating a lot of fat or carbs and you’ll want to eat less of that,” he said.

Don’t overlook exercising.

“You don’t want to go crazy right away. This happens a lot, people say they will clean out their pantry of bad foods and join the gym and exercise every day of the week,” he observed. So exercise but take the sensible approach.

Don’t get stagnant in your pursuit of being healthy and focus only on losing pounds. Mr. Drendel also said the motivation to become healthier is important. It could be the desire for an improved cardio system, to have less joint pain, to reduce the amount of medicine one takes, or another worthy goal.

“Have something to shoot for. Instead of having a view of wanting to be skinny, you want to be healthy and fit,” he said.

The new year’s pursuit must be a lifestyle choice and change, not a resolution. A resolution forbids one from having a delectably sweet dessert. A lifestyle choice allows it, so long as the goal is to get back on track.

“It’s a new year and a new you; focus on that,” he said. “It can’t be a resolution. That’s what you throw out the window.”

Contact Rose Russell @theblade.com or 419-724-6178.