Thursday, November 13, 2008

Health Care and Diet

Do you watch what you eat? A significant number of Americans are helping to make the U.S. win first place for "Fattest Country on the Planet." So far, we are leading for the gold medal. There are two eternal truths about diets according to Forbes.com: One, if properly followed they will result in weight loss; and two, most people will cheat. Only an iron will, an in-house nutritionist or numbed taste buds can guarantee a successful diet. But this isn't just a question of discipline. It's also boredom, timing and preconditioning. For example, an athlete accustomed to consuming large amounts of food will find it hard to reduce his or her caloric intake when no longer in training.

Even if the foods are tasty--the Atkins diet actually encourages people to eat bacon and butter--people will hunger for the forbidden as reported by Forbes.com. The reason is that many diets are too restrictive and are not designed to be sustained over time. For example, go to a spa, drink lots of water, go for hikes, do yoga, eat 1,000 calories a day and lose weight. Within a short time of coming home, though, the weight that had been lost, like the prodigal son, has now returned. The key to losing weight is not through quick fixes and fancy spas, no matter how much we may enjoy them, but rather it's taking a more sensible and long-term approach that balances diet with lifestyle.

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight or at least eat more healthfully. Several Web sites offer tips and tools for getting there according to the New York Times:
1.) 3FatChicks.com--This web site began as a personal source of diet support for sisters Suzanne, Jennifer and Amy and has now grown into a community of over 70,000 registered members. It has the typical diet-site resources and tools, but the main appeal is the forum for dieters to share stories and find support.
2.) CookingLight.com--A great site for finding healthy and delicious foods that won’t make you feel like you’re on a diet. You’ll find recipes, nutrition information and advice on cooking techniques.
3.) Dr.Gourmet.com--New Orleans physician Timothy S. Harlan, also known as Dr. Gourmet, has created free diet software that helps you plan more healthful meals. He calls it the Quality Calorie Diet Plan to reflect his belief that it’s the quality of the calories we eat that counts the most. The site creates meal plans and even offers ways to use leftovers later in the week. It includes food and exercise diaries as well as goal-tracking features, and a place for users to analyze their own recipes.
4.) SouthBeachDiet.com--This diet gained popularity as an alternative to the strict low-carb regimen of Atkins, with an emphasis on “good carbs” like high-fiber vegetables and whole grains. It also offers a free week trial, followed by a $5 a week membership fee.
5.) WeightWatchers.com--Although the site is offering a one-week free trial to it’s online plan, you’ll have to pay $65 for a three month subscription if you stick with it. While it’s true that most people who diet end up gaining back their weight, much of what Weight Watchers claims is backed by science.
6.) ABetterFoodPyramid.com--Harvard nutritionists say their revamped food pyramid is based on the latest science and is “unaffected by businesses and organizations with a stake in its messages.” It starts with exercise and encourages adding more plant-based foods and cutting back on “American staples” like red meat, refined grains, potatoes and sugary drinks.

According to Forbes.com, few nutritionists would dispute that an organic diet is beneficial to health--not only is it more nutrient-dense, but also it is free of chemicals and additives--but there is one problem. Although many people consider organic to be synonymous with guilt-free, it doesn't mean organic food won't cause weight gain. It's a common misconception that food allowed in any diet can be eaten in abundance, when on the contrary, eating too much of anything, organic or not, is a surefire way to get fat.

According the Ladies Home Network, the USDA and its Human Nutrition Research Centers have recently launched a new initiative to address what the USDA calls the "long-neglected need for rigorous research on popular diets." Many of these diets have never been tested for efficacy or safety. In a preliminary review, the USDA categorized popular diets into three groups:
--High-fat, low-carbohydrate diets. Such diets include the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets that have seen a recent return to popularity (Dr. Atkins, New Diet Revolution, Protein Power, Life Without Bread).
--Moderate-fat diets. These include diets that are high in carbohydrates and moderate in protein, but that limit fat to 20%-30% of calories. Such diets are widely advocated by major governmental and health organizations (Dash Diet, USDA pyramid, Weight Watchers).
--Low-fat and very low-fat diets. These diets call for a very high intake of carbohydrates and a very low protein intake; some are vegetarian (Dr. Ornish; The New Pritikin Program; Eat More, Weigh Less).
The USDA report observes that any of these approaches helps people lose weight mainly by way of calorie restriction, not by the inclusion or exclusion of a particular type of nutrient. The report also concludes that the healthiest diets for long-term use are those that include the widest array of food groups.

WebMD reports about the danger in fad diets. A Fad Diet is one that is more of a "quick fix" that is not going to lead to improved health, and that can't be pursued on a long-term basis. There are several ways to recognize a fad diet. A fad diet:
--Doesn't include the variety of foods necessary for good health and/or doesn't teach good eating habits.
--Claims you can "trick" the body's metabolism into wasting calories or energy.
--Makes dramatic claims for fast and easy weight loss.

Going on a diet is a way to start losing weight. However, if you are significantly overweight or obese, you should consult your doctor before starting any program designed to help lose weight. Some diets can actually hurt your physical metabolism if not done correctly, and you should always keep in mind portion control any time you eat. Losing a consistent amount of weight over time is the best way to diet. Also, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle along with an exercise plan that will augment your success with your diet. Changing your eating habits from poor to good will definitely go a long way to help keep the weight off. Diets can be beneficial, but they must be used in conjunction with a complete health regimen to be effective on a long term basis.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

2 comments:

Weight Loss said...

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