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Happy New Year and happy resolution time.
Yep, it's that time again and most everyone makes some sort of resolution for the new year. The two most common are losing weight and stopping smoking. There's tons of advertising now directed at both and for good reason. Research shows that by picking a date, any date, the chance of success is higher. The new year is a good time but an anniversary or someone's birthday works just as well.
Many of my patients resolve to lose weight. This year I'm trying to convince my patients to make two changes in their resolutions. The first is to not focus on weight loss as the key change but to simply work at eating better. The second is to not make all the changes at once. Research shows that gradual, small changes in lifestyle are the ones that have the most effect and last the longest.
So here's the recommendation for January 2007: Eat better. That's it. Don't make the goal “losing 20 pounds” or “getting into those size 6 slacks.” Just eat better.
Start by avoiding fast food. This is the single easiest way to eat better and certainly to lose weight. This means a little planning. Simply by having a quick healthy breakfast and by taking lunch to work one can save hundreds of calories. Since weight loss is only a matter of 250 - 350 calories per day for most people, this is a really effective strategy. The best part is eliminating the highly processed foods that go into the fast food on the market. But what to replace it with?
Replacing egg and meat breakfasts with a whole grain breakfast of quick breads or cereal has been shown to help with weight control and lower cholesterol. Likewise, that Big Mac for lunch has 40% more fat and calories than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Why PB&J? Because the monounsaturated fats that are in peanuts are so good for you. Couple this with 7 grams of quality fiber in the whole wheat bread and your mom was right -- PB&J is almost the perfect meal.
The second part of the resolution for January is to make an effort to eat more whole grains. This is one of the cornerstones of a healthy Mediterranean type diet. Here's some easy choices:
|If you're eating:||Replace with:|
|White bread||Whole wheat bread
Choose breads with as much fiber as possible
|Potatoes||Sweet potatoes or yams|
|White rice||Brown rice|
|White rice||Wild rice|
|Sugary cereal||Whole grain cereal
Choose Oatmeal, Shredded Wheat, 100% Bran or Bran Flakes, Raisin Bran
|Bagel||Whole wheat bagel|
|Bagel or English muffin||Bran muffin|
|English muffin||Bran or whole wheat muffin|
The key to long term healthy lifestyle (including weight loss) is not a “diet” but simply better food.
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy 2007!
January 8, 2007