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Written by Gina Cousino
Facts are facts. By losing just 5-10% of our body weight, our health improves. But most people have much loftier goals, dreaming about what they once weighed in college or when they were just married.
Second, as we age, our body composition changes and our metabolism slows due to a series of bodily processes, including normal hormonal changes, decreased activity levels, muscle loss, and more.
About 99% of my potential clients communicate that their primary goal is to lose weight. While my method will certainly help them lose weight, I cannot in good conscience help people lose weight without teaching them a healthy eating pattern, which in turn will help them reduce their risk of heart disease and other lifestyle ailments that add years of disability and shorten our lives.
While the traditional diet has always been about restricting calories and eliminating favorite foods, we all know from personal experience that it does not lead to sustainable weight loss.
With this “all or nothing” mentality, I am bound and determined to try and make change happen. With the holiday season approaching, most won’t be trying to lose weight, and assume they’ll gain weight, with all the eating opportunities coming their way.
They might try to exercise more, but the truth is, few of us can use more than a few hundred calories with an hour of exercise, and a pumpkin latte from your favorite coffee shop will fill those burned calories back up in a fraction of that time.
Guiding individuals to a healthy eating pattern allows them to lose weight, if necessary, and improve their quality of life.
It also allows them to continue to enjoy the foods they “can’t live without”, but this can’t happen without proper nutritional education regarding which foods we need to prioritize throughout the day, and strategies on how to self-control the foods that keep bogging us down. .
This is not easy for a nutritionist and chef. So, let’s talk for a moment about what a healthy eating pattern is.
The USDA suggests including a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, and chickpeas), fat-free or low-fat dairy products, seafood, poultry, and meat, as well as eggs, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
For most people with diverse dietary preferences, these guidelines hit the mark. Add foods that are restricted in added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium; This is a logical and practical guide to cutting calories, if losing weight is one of your goals, and improving your health.
So, what can you eat? Almost anything if you allow the above guidelines to lead the way. A daily scoop of ice cream is high in calories, saturated fat, and added sugar, so consider eating less of it and/or replacing it most days with a bowl of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt topped with your favorite fruit, with a handful of chopped walnuts. And a drizzle of honey.
The same can be said for your crunchy, high-fat, high-sodium snack that you eat straight out of the bag every afternoon. Consider limiting your portion size, eating only on occasion, or maybe not this week, and swapping it in for some wholegrain crackers and your favorite cheese slices.
Simply moving towards more whole food choices, and including more plants in every meal and snack, can be your guide to a healthy eating pattern that will change your life in a positive way.
Gina Cousino, a local nutritionist who specializes in weight loss and health gain, is a trained chef and fitness professional, and has an MS in integrative and functional nutrition. It offers its readers a free 50-minute “preventive check-up” session to help them better advocate for their health with their medical providers. Please email [email protected] to set up that session. Feel free to find out more about her at mamagslifestyle.com, too.
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