Top 10 Best Practices for Eating

January often means time to make some New Year’s Resolutions. Countless Americans will no doubt wake up tomorrow and resolve to do things like lose weight, get in shape and eat healthier. These are among the top resolutions made every year.

To help those of you who decide this is the year to lose weight and be healthier, I have come up with a Top 10 List. Here is my Top 10 list of things you can do to improve your health and weight in 2010.

10. Eat more fiber. A high fiber diet may help lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugars and aid in weight loss. Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are great sources of fiber. As a general guide, women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber a day and men should shoot for 38 grams a day. If you have a low fiber intake right now, increase this gradually.

9. Eat more fruits and vegetables. These not only contain fiber, but also have many beneficial vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (disease fighting compounds). Plus, since most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, they can fill you up but not out. Resolve to try some new ones this year too.

8. Get adequate sleep. Studies show that individuals getting too little sleep are more at risk for weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart disease. Most adults need 7-8 hours a night of sleep. I personally would like even more!!

7. Eat breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day and can be a key to weight loss. People that skip breakfast usually end up replacing the calories later in the day, even binging at times. Try to eat something within 2 hours of waking to get your metabolism and your day going. If you are not a fan of breakfast foods then try eating a sandwich or even a slice of leftover pizza to get your day started.

6. Don’t completely deprive yourself of the foods that you love. Deprivation can eventually lead to binging, overeating and guilt. Allow yourself to eat what you want, when you want, just be sure to do so in moderation. Over time, this practice will ultimately lead to more moderate and nutritious eating habits.

5. Reduce your daily caloric intake. In order to lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than your body needs. Remember that 3,500 calories equals one pound of body fat. Consuming 500 fewer calories than your body needs each day could result in a weight loss of 1 pound a week. You can visit https://choosemyplate.gov to get a general idea of how many calories you need each day.

4. Hold yourself accountable . Accountability is essential for weight loss success. This can include regularly weighing yourself, setting goals and keeping track of what you eat. Food diaries are especially important strategies for weight loss. In fact, a study done by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research showed that participants who kept food journals lost almost double the weight of those that did not keep a journal.

3. Enlist support. Join forces with friends, co-workers or family members and work towards a healthier weight and lifestyle together. Weight loss challenges are always popular this time of year. The HealthPark will be offering “The Biggest Loser” contest again starting January. The support of others can certainly help improve your chances of success.

2. Join a weight loss program. There is nothing at all wrong with admitting that you need the help of a professional. Often a weight loss program led by professionals can offer you the support and structure you need to be successful. We will be starting a new weight loss program here at the HealthPark in January called LIFE, Lose It Forever, which will offer education, exercise, coaching and support. For individuals who have large amounts of weight to lose, we also offer the HealthOne program.

1. Get moving! Exercise is an essential component to any weight loss program and may well be the number one key to maintaining the loss. Don’t let the cold weather hamper your efforts. Join the gym, sign up for an exercise class, get some sessions with a personal trainer or purchase an exercise video you can use at home. The bottom line is to just get moving as activity has many benefits to your body and your health.

The National Weight Control Registry is a study of close to 5,000 individuals who have succeeded at long term weight loss. Members of the registry have lost an average of 66 pounds and have kept it off for over 5 years. Some of the key strategies these “successful losers” have used include eating breakfast, following a low-calorie, low-fat diet, tracking what they eat, weighing regularly and exercising 60-90 minutes a day.

I hope you have a very healthy and Happy New Year!

Read other articles by Beth

Meet Our Dietitian

At Owensboro Health, you’ll get nutrition counseling from a registered nutritionist — an expert in medical nutrition therapy. Beth Cecil, RDN, LD (right), is certified in food allergy management and is a Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Management, so you can trust her to care for your or your loved one’s specialized needs.